Go East, young Cattleman’s


A post here about restaurants that had formerly occupied a building on eastern Foothill Boulevard in La Verne, inspired by a question by reader Tom Gay, brought a note of (intended) correction from reader Tom Meader.

Meader wrote: “Cattleman’s Wharf was on the west end of La Verne. Currently the 99 Cent store is in the approximate location. Nowhere near what was at that time Liberty Ford.”

Meader is mostly right, partly wrong. Cattleman’s did spend most of its life in western La Verne, but it evidently did move to the Ford property in eastern La Verne for a brief period before closing, according to Eric Scherer of the Planning Department.

Cattleman’s began at 1504 Foothill Blvd., near Wheeler Avenue, in a building fashioned like a lighthouse, with beams and pulleys, as if the cattle boat had just pulled up at the dock. Everybody into the kitchen! The menu cover gives a date of 1975; click on the thumbnail version for a larger view.

In the early 1980s, Cattleman’s seems to have moved to the Ford property before vanishing, according to Planning Department files. So Cattleman’s Wharf existed in both locations, making both Toms correct. I love splitting the difference. Everyone’s happy (or unhappy).

The Cattleman’s lighthouse later housed the La Verne Cattle Co., as seen in the photo below, and Toppers, a restaurant that morphed into a night club and was shut down in the late 1980s. The building was demolished in the 1990s and the site became a Pep Boys and a 99 Cents Only store.


Undated photo of the La Verne Cattle Co., courtesy La Verne Planning Department

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  • Dee

    Wasn’t Cattleman’s Wharf the one where you could go down a slide from the restaurant/bar area down to the dance floor? My mother-in-law always went down the slide. I took the stairs…but I don’t drink. LOL

  • Derek Christensen

    Shortly after it opened (at the Original, first location on the south-side of Foothill), my parents brought me there for dinner. As best I recall, they had valet parking.

    It was the first restaurant I had been to where the bar/lounge had sawdust on the floor. The waitstaff were dressed in costume as “characters,” similar to “Bobby McGee’s Conglomeration” restaurant chain, or “Jack Rabbit Slim’s,” the first restaurant scene from the movie “Pulp Fiction.”

  • James

    What Dee said about going down the slide, there was a Cattleman’s Wharf in Hacienda Heights area just south of the Hacienda Ave. exit of the 60 freeway, same type of building and the slide part. I think it’s still there as some sort of coffee shop?

  • Derek Christensen
  • Phound

    Oh God, i have bad memories of Cattleman’s Wharf in Hacienda Heights. I was a waiter there in the late ’70’s. We all had to wear various costumes to give the place a “festive” feel. There were a dozen different decors in the restaurant too. The owner and manager were not very nice, kind of dour and mercurial taskmasters, as I recall. I made good tips though.

    • davidallen909

      The “backstage” perspective is often very different from the customer perspective, and neat to hear. Posts here about Michael J’s and the skimpy outfits the servers had to wear are funny.

  • Scott Vanatter

    I was a waiter at the Hacienda Heights location from 1976-79. My costumes included, George Washington, Farmer John, and an NFL Referee. Danny Anderson dressed up as a clown.

  • Steve Young

    After Cattleman’s Wharf – at some time in the late 70’s, the location became “The Clam Digger” and then “Ribs and Bibs”.

    I worked there during both.

    The place finally closed after they began hosting boxing matches in the basement bar and somebody died.

    At least that’s how I recall it!

  • Marla V Croy

    Bud Holmes, the owner and creator of the Cattleman’s Warf restaurants, was also the creator and owner of the Tin Lizzy restaurant in Glendora back in the early 70’s and the American Restaurant in La Verne. The American Restaurant was a family restaurant based on his Cattleman’s Warf restaurants. But it failed within two years and he changed it into a Cattleman’s Warf restaurant. It was great fun working there.