Inn Style

Walk through the doors of the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks, and you will find it much the same today as the day it opened—from the cozy, pin-cushion booths to the antique cash register at the bar to the comfort-food-filled menu. “The old-fashioned pot roast, potato pancakes and barbecue ribs are still on the menu, made from the same recipe as they were in 1947. They’re still very popular,” shares veteran head waitress, Pat Saxon.

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    Erika Thomas | Photographs courtesy of Sophia Brodetsky

Walk through the doors of the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks, and you will find it much the same today as the day it opened—from the cozy, pin-cushion booths to the antique cash register at the bar to the comfort-food-filled menu. “The old-fashioned pot roast, potato pancakes and barbecue ribs are still on the menu, made from the same recipe as they were in 1947. They’re still very popular,” shares veteran head waitress, Pat Saxon.

That throwback vibe is exactly what drew owner, Sophia Brodetsky, and her husband, Boris, to purchase the restaurant in 1998. “It had a charm and a kind of romance about it that you just don’t see anymore,” Sophia recalls.

Originally called Jim Otto’s Valley Inn, the restaurant was built by Otto and his older brother in 1947. The two men also owned the nearby swanky Pink Pig supper club on Sepulveda.

“W.C. Fields and Cary Grant were fans of the Valley Inn in the early years,” notes Pat. “During the 1950s and ‘60s, it was Shirley MacLaine, Betty White, Julie London and many of the TV Western actors—you name them. They’d all come in.”

“It had a charm and a kind of romance about it that you just don’t see anymore.”

Actor and comedian George Gobel and “Route 66” singer Bobby Troup (who often performed there) were also Valley Inn fixtures. Pat says, “In those days, after the restaurant would close down for the night, George would invite Bobby, the staff and even a few patrons back to his home in the nearby hills of Encino. He had a game room with a bar, pinball machine and a pool table. We’d play games and listen to music all night long. It was a blast,” she says.

For Los Angeles Lakers sports announcer Chick Hearn and UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, the Valley Inn “was practically a second home,” according to the waitress. The Brodetskys even named one of the dining rooms after Wooden when he died in 2010. “We value the history and tradition of this place, and so do our customers,” Sophia explains.

 The Valley Inn today.

The owners have always wanted to  keep the Valley Inn true to its roots. That was something of a challenge when they bought it 14 years ago. “It had changed hands several times over the years, us being the fifth owners. By the time we bought it, it was in desperate need of repairs,” Sophia recalls.

Through the much-needed renovations, the Brodetskys have been careful to make minor cosmetic changes only when necessary. “All of the booths, tables and chairs—although refurbished—are the original ones from 1947. 

Their preservationist approach seems to be working. “The older customers still come here, because it reminds them of the old days, and the younger ones want to experience what it used to be like.” Sophia believes her restaurant is last of its era in the Valley. “It’s the only one left,” she quips.

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