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 Aware In 

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


As the Hell's Angels rode on, dozens of devoted hippies moved in. Father Yod was also who also fronted an experimental psychedelic rock band. 

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. 
Photo credit: Isis Aquarian


A rare glimpse inside the Source

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. 





And if the documentary isn't enough for you, read the book written by Family Source member, Isis Aquarian. Click here to get it on Amazon. It's a fascinating read. 


Jim Baker and Isis Aquarian who was never far from his side

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A menu from the Source, a popular Sunset Strip restaurant from the late 1960s to the '70s. (Isis Aquarian/Source Archives )

"He experimented when The Source first opened. It was kind of raw and vegan, and it really wasn't going over very well. He had to switch over to vegetarian, which was dairy. We did have about six or seven items that were cooked with rice and tofu and the tomato sauces and stuff," Aquarian says.

The revised Source menu, featuring vegetable salads, fruit salads, lentil soup, cheesecake and the "best fresh juices on the planet" (including smoothies and lemon slushies) began attracting some of L.A.'s hippest swingers. 

"There was a short renaissance period there where it really was very magical," Aquarian says.


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. 

    
CABO CANTINA 

Fortunately, I got to go to the SOURCE before it closed. It was one of the only establishments on the strip that had a huge outdoor dirt parking lot up against the Hollywood Hills. That parking lot is long gone. And from the looks of the Cantina it appears to be closed, but let's hope the structure keeps on trucking for years to come.  

Now I'm craving mashed yeast! 




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


Alison's book of unpublished photos of L.A.'s past is also currently in production. 


Comments

  1. Hi Alison,
    It’s always interesting to read about our restaurant and lifestyle from back in the day. Articles pop up periodically about us…it certainly was an interesting time. Thanks for writing this one…I think it’s the most recent.
    Elena Michaels
    aka Electra Aquarian from The Source 🌼

    ReplyDelete

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