The Source Restaurant
Photo: Ed Ruscha 1972
Sometimes I walk the neighborhood looking for older structures that are still standing. In a city that likes to tear everything down, I’m forever searching for reminders of the prior century…
I’m actually amazed the old SOURCE Restaurant is still standing. It’s now Cabo Cantina located at 8301 Sunset Blvd. It was owned by Jim Baker, who’s quirky, bohemian eatery became the originator of the spiritualized vegetarian health food craze long before tempeh, quinoa, and vegan were household names. The SOURCE opened in 1969 at Sunset and Sweetzer serving veggie burgers and other healthy fare to hippies, musicians and counterculture types who hung out on the strip. Baker, who was a wealthy former US Marine who fought in WWII, drove a Rolls-Royce and called himself Father Yod. He had previously run the Old World and Aware Inn restaurants not too far from the SOURCE.
The Old World. (This building at Sunset and Holloway is still a restaurant today called The State)
Baker had taken his new spot from an old biker bar called "The Strip Combers" and renamed it the SOURCE. It was an instant hit. During its peak it was grossing close to $10 thousand dollars a day!
Baker also w
The Source became popular with all kinds of celebrities and served “vibrationally pure” cuisine to the likes of John Lennon and Marlon Brando. My mother took me to the SOURCE a few times growing up. It’s the first time I ever remember having avocado on a sandwich on whole wheat with a side of magic mushrooms! My mother always had the "Awake Salad".
Their old parking lot, that used to feature music billboards back in the day, is long gone.
The Source often held outdoor concerts in their parking lot
The Source is also where Woody Allen gets dumped by Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall” while ordering a plate of alfalfa sprouts and a plate of mashed yeast!
This scene from "Annie Hall" also shows the old Standard Hotel in the background when it was the Golden Crest
The SOURCE is also captured on celluloid in the films “Shampoo” and “Alex in Wonderland”. Three films that brilliantly capture the bohemian lifestyle of Los Angeles during the late 60s and 70s.Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn at the SOURCE in the 1975 film, SHAMPOO
One of the most fascinating documentaries ever made is about Jim Baker & his radical utopian way of living called THE SOURCE FAMILY. (Click here to watch in on Amazon Prime). And just like the poster says, "IT'S FAR FUCKIN' OUT!"
Baker was looked up to as a spiritual leader to a cult of gorgeous followers who all lived together and became the darlings of Sunset Strip. It’s more then just a doc on the hippie-dippy lifestyle…it’s a deep dive into the hedonistic principles of Hollywood's favorite cult leader during the sexual revolution. The entire story is a serious TRIP! Baker even committed murder in 1963, and pretty much got away with it.
The Family lived communally under the spiritual guidance of Father Yod and Baker does get bonus 'cult leader' points for being a positive influence on his devotees, unlike other cult leaders such as Manson. Baker's tribe were young hard working, intelligent individuals who just enjoyed getting it on with their bearded loving God from time to time. Sadly, he loses points for believing a little too strongly in his own divinity.
All of these thoughts entered my mind as I walked past the old structure last night. Back in the day it seems to fit the scale of the Strip, but today it’s completely dwarfed by oversized developments. I can't begin to figure out how it has survived all these years. Although, the mystical vibe is gone, I've always been happy it's still there.
Alison Martino is a writer, television producer and personality, and L.A. pop culture historian. She founded the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles in 2010.
Martino muses on L.A’s. past and present on Twitter and Instagram and also writes articles about the history of L.A for Los Angeles Magazine and appears on weekly show called the SO CAL SCENE airing on Spectrum News 1