Treasures of the Valley » Mike lawler

Goodbye Dominick’s, and Hello Antiques Market

Mike Lawler is the president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley. Reach him at
Mike Lawler is the president of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley. Reach him at

It’s with great sadness and shock that our community learned that Dominick’s Pizza at Foothill and Ramsdell, a CV institution for almost 50 years, has closed. It was opened in 1956 by the Garofano family and sold to the Russo family in 1970. La Crescenta “old-timer” Bill Costello shared some of their early history, the Garofano years, with me.

Dominick Garofano, an Italian immigrant, learned his cooking skills in the army of all places! After WWII, he and his wife Marie ventured to California, where Dominick got a job at the popular Hollywood Italian restaurant Casa D’Mor. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Mario Lanza were regulars. With some restaurant experience under his belt, Dominick and Marie opened the first “Dominick’s,” a “Happy Days” style drive-in restaurant on Los Feliz.

By the mid-50s they decided they’d like to open Dominick’s as a sit-down place near where they lived in the growing community of La Crescenta. They bought a lot at Ramsdell and Foothill, carved out of the grape vineyards that dominated all four corners of that intersection. Win’s Burgers was already there on their new lot, but soon moved. Interestingly, that building was moved a half-block east down Foothill, and today exists as Senior Nacho.

Dominick’s opened in the summer of 1956 and was a hit from its opening day. That first night the line of customers stretched west on Foothill across Ramsdell and halfway down the next block! Dominick came up with the “See it made!” slogan for their sign, and he proudly installed a window to the kitchen so his customers could watch him toss and spin the pizza dough. Dominick and Marie were a team, with Dominick in the kitchen and Marie at the cash register.

At one point they decided that to create a truly Italian atmosphere in the dining room – the customers should be serenaded. And of course, who better to sing for the crowd than their 10-year-old daughter Nancy? She sang her heart out, accompanying herself on a giant accordion hung around her neck. That must have been priceless!

The Garofano family created a family atmosphere at Dominick’s that continued under the ownership of the Russo family. Dominick’s was an unofficial community center with Little League team dinners, school fundraisers and community meetings held there on a regular basis. Anyone who has spent any time at all in La Crescenta has a Dominick’s memory. It will be missed, and we mourn its passing.

Even as we say good-bye to Dominick’s, we gain a new feature on Foothill Boulevard – the Foothill Crafts and Collectables Market. A couple of months ago, the Montrose Harvest Market ended the Thieves’ Market part of the Harvest Market in favor of more craft-oriented vendors, and in the bargain raised the booth price for vendors. That spurred several vendors to get together and start a new market that will concentrate on antiques.

On Saturday morning, April 21, tents will go up on the corner of Foothill and Briggs where vendors will sell such items as used books, vintage linens and tablecloths, antique crystal, china and small furniture. As well, community groups, such as the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley, will be there. It will operate on an every other Saturday basis through June. They still have spots available, and if you’d like to sell there, call (818) 230-5858, or visit them on Facebook.

This market will be a charity event with a portion of the profits to go to “The Firehouse,” a youth house just down Foothill at St. Luke’s Episcopal. The Firehouse provides a safe place for local teens to hang out in off-school hours where they can play video games, listen to music, and if they absolutely have to, do homework.

The Firehouse depends on the community to donate snacks for these hungry teens, and Reverend Beverly Craig of the La Crescenta Church of Religious Science has answered the call. She’s the official sponsor of the Foothill Antiques Market, and she had assigned a portion of the proceeds to buy food for the Firehouse!

Thanks Reverend Craig!

Mike Lawler is the president of the Historical Society of the
Crescenta Valley.
Reach him at