Du-Par's Replaces Hamburger Hamlet: You Say Goodbye, and I Say Hello

New Du-Par's opens, and we are second through the front door

Saturday, January 4, 2014 | 3:03 pm

And, just like that, it’s Du-Par’s. The iconic Hamburger Hamlet on Lake Avenue shut its doors last night at 11 p.m., and re-opened its doors late this morning as the newest Du-Par’s restaurant.

We sat down to a hearty breakfast with W.W. (William Wallace) “Biff ” Naylor, who told us the story: “I got a call from the landlord about two weeks ago telling me about Hamburger Hamlet’s bankruptcy,” he said, “and they asked if we would be be interested in the space. And the owner of the restaurant is a good friend of mine, so I called him and asked if it would be all right if I negotiated for the space, and he agreed, so we were able to make it happen quickly.”

Owner W. W. "Biff" Naylor (L) and manager Guillermo Mireles (R) at the new Du-Par's on Lake Avenue.

Mr. Naylor’s family originally owned a chain of Tiny Naylor’s restaurants all over Southern California, including one at Sunset and La Brea, which they sold in the mid-80′s. Biff’s dad was “Tiny,” and Dad also opened up a chain of restaurants called “Biff’s” in 1948. The family bought the Du-Par’s chain in 2004.

“When my dad started,” said Naylor, “He was a farmer, and he had the idea of  a fresh ‘farm to table’ restaurant, and so I chuckle when I hear chefs today describe their restaurants that way, as though they invented it.”

Following the successful negotiations, Naylor then quickly got on the phone, called in a crew from Las Vegas to come in and help train, as well as a Las Vegas manager. “The bankruptcy judge set it all up, so that we could take over right away,  and so fortunately, no one would lose any working days,” said Naylor.

After working all night,  the kitchen was packed this morning with workers and trainers; in fact,  the new manager had to find the keys to the back door. (Mr. Naylor himself let us in.).

The busy kitchen at Du-Par's this morning.

Customers soon began to fill the restaurant. The transition was so swift that the restaurant, at the last minute, found itself with no menus. “We had holders, but no menus,” said Naylor. “We had to print new ones out, and put them together this morning.”

The first to sit down were Daniel Lee, his wife, Dawn, and their infant son, Rhys. “It’s really good,” said Dawn, over a teeming table of pancakes, eggs, hash browns, sausages, juice and coffee.

We were second.

My own waitress, Maria Abdulahi, was beaming as she took my order for fresh-squeezed orange juice. “Ooh, my first one.” She returned, laughing, 15 minutes later. “That took seven oranges!”

My breakfast was french toast, sausage, coffee and the juice, all delicious. In fact, Du-Pars bakes its own Brioche for the french toast, Naylor told us.

The new Du-Pars joins a small group of 24-hour restaurants in the area, including Denny’s. By the way, the name”Du-Par’s” comes from the original 1938 founders Messrs. Dunn and Parsons.

And yes, they’re open right now.

Du-Par’s is at 214 S. Lake Ave. Pasadena. (626) 449-8520. www.du-pars.com


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