Love Takes a Ride at Twoheys Restaurant

As the iconic restaurant prepares for a move to South Pasadena, it looks back with love, one last time

Published : Monday, August 20, 2018 | 5:32 AM

(Updated) Love takes many iconic forms. For so many, it is the image of Cupid, the goddess of love, and his quiver of arrows. For others, hearts and flowers symbolize eternal union.

For Fred and Margaret Padilla, it’s the face of Little Stinko, the face of Twohey’s restaurant, the stalwart diner started in Pasadena in 1943 before it moved to its current and now-closing location a block south of city limits in Alhambra.

Amidst the long hair, platform shoes, disco and bell bottoms of the 70s, lovebirds Fred and Margaret could often be found making goo-goo eyes at each other over a milkshake and onion rings at Twohey’s, with Little Stinko’s face beaming down beatifically over their everlasting love.

Now, just before the restaurant makes the move from Alhambra to South Pasadena, the Padillas will renew their wedding vows Wednesday, August 22, in the Rose Room, with family and friends at the landmark Twohey’s Restaurant Alhambra, in celebration of their 43rd wedding anniversary.

The restaurant has been operating at its present location in Alhambra since 1951. The couple wanted to commemorate their special anniversary at a place they frequently visited when they first dated.

As Fred recalled last week, “I grew up in Alhambra and went to school up at Fairmont School. It was over in South San Gabriel, but I remember driving up to Twoheys with my friends afterwards, and having hamburgers when they had the car hops out there. This is in the late 50′s and early 60′s, and my friends and I enjoyed going out there, into the 60′s.”

Then, Fred met Margaret in 1974, when she was about to become a teacher at Don Bosco Tech. But she had reservations about it at first.

St. Paul’s, the school where she had previously taught, was a co-ed school, and Bosco Tech, was and is still, an all-boys school. Margaret and her girlfriend, who was also a teacher, were reconsidering their decision, and getting ready to leave the teacher orientation meeting.

“I said to myself, ‘I better go back to St Paul’s’,’ Margaret remembered, “but the distance was too far. I had driven it for 12 years. I lived in Los Angeles. And then when I was about ready to get up and leave, who walks in?”

This wouldn’t be a love story, dear readers, if it wasn’t Fred walking in at that moment.

“Fred was wearing his smock, and it was flying,” laughed Margaret, “and he was coming into the meeting, and then he sat down next to me and asked me what I was doing there.”

“And I said, ‘I’m here and I’m ready to leave.’ said Margaret. “But he was so nice and gracious. I said to myself, ‘Well, I’ll sit through this meeting.’”

“Then lunchtime came, and he said, ‘Hey, let’s go to lunch in the faculty room.’ And that’s how it all began. We got married on August 9th, 1975, and we’ve been married 43 years.”

“So naturally, we thought, ‘It would be a good thing to have a renewal of vows there at Twoheys,’ said Margaret. “And really, it was going to be kind of funny. Now, it’s not a joke. We’re serious.”

And this is where Twoheys comes back into the story.

Said Margaret, ‘On one of our first dates, he said, ‘I want you to see where I used to come with my high school buddies from Don Bosco, after school.’

“And so we went up to Twohey’s and I thought, wow, this is neat. We sat at the counter and I had a chocolate sundae. It was very good. And you looked around, and it was a very nostalgic type of restaurant. It kind of went back to the fifties,” she said. “I graduated high school in 1957, and from college in 1961.

“And of course,” she continued, “I liked the counter where they have an bubblegum machine and candy and all sorts of things. So every time we eat there, I go out with four pieces of bubble gum, one in my mouth before I leave the place!”

There apparently isn’t a lot about Twohey’s that Margaret doesn’t love.

“I love seeing the nostalgia, all the cars on the wall, those old model cars, some of them I rode in when I was driving them,” she told Pasadena Now last week.

“Just the whole atmosphere, their pictures, going back to the Rose Parade, and different activities in the area. It’s just a neat restaurant. Service is good, food is excellent, but the nostalgia is what kept us going back to. So I liked it. I hate to see it close,” she said.

Fear not, Margaret. Twoheys is moving, not closing. Right after Fred and Margaret renew their vows, and then hit the road in Fred’s original 1958 Chevy.

Oh yes, the Chevy, which will be parked outside the restaurant, ready to rock.

“It was my Dad’s and he bought it new, and I’ve kept it up all this time,” Fred said, proudly.

And Margaret chimed in, just as proudly. “He even drove it up to Berkeley, and he had it there when he went to school there. It still looks brand new!,” Now that’s love.

Meanwhile, Twoheys came back to Pasadena last November, with Twoheys Tavern, an upscale contemporary restaurant on East Foothill Boulevard, when it appeared they would be closing the Alhambra location forever, a victim of skyrocketing rents.

But like any good love story, this one has a happy ending. Twoheys will open up in South Pasadena in their new location at 442 Fair Oaks Avenue next month, after 67 years in Alhambra.

“It has a lot of memories there for us and the community in Alhambra, and also the surrounding area,” said owner Jim Christos, “but we are on to greener pastures, as they say.”

According to Christos, the restaurant negotiated with its landlord for “a very long time to make a deal, but nothing came of it.”

Thus, said Christo, “We decided to continue the name and the legacy of the landmark at the South Pasadena location. It is an appropriate location, it’s only about a mile, very close to where we are.

“A lot of people at South Pasadena are very excited to have us there,” he continued, “and we’re looking forward to moving on and keeping the Twohey’s name and the restaurant, in serving our loyal customers for hopefully a very long time.”

Twohey’s new location shouldn’t be difficult to find. Look for the sparkling ‘58 Chevy parked out front.

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