About Our History
The history of the Red Lion Tavern is shrouded in some mystery, but there are some things we do know:
1959: The Red Lion Tavern is established in its existing location on Glendale Boulevard by Ted Mandekic and Edward Pagliano, then-owners of the famous Cole's Pacific Electric Buffet in downtown Los Angeles. During that period, the Red Lion Tavern was an "Olde English" pub with darts and other pub games in a "Game Room" on the upper level, and was decked out in red leather and dark woods. Despite its British ancestry, perhaps the Red Lion was destined to become a German tavern; it's reported that even back then, it was known for its selection of draft beer on tap, including Dortmunder Ritter Brau! Mandekic and Pagliano continued to own and operate the tavern until 1963.
1963: The Red Lion officially took on its German theme under new ownership. The new owner's German wife reportedly taught her home-style of German cooking to the head chef, serving as the basis for many of the delicious recipes still in use today. During this time, the tavern only had a downstairs bar, and the kitchen was literally a closet! Sometime in 1960-1979 the upstairs ("middle") bar was completed, which included a pool table. At this point, the existing beer garden area was the parking lot.
1970's and 1980's: The Red Lion operated until about 1979-1980, when it closed due to mysterious circumstances. In 1981, Uwe Backen bought the bar and took on Hans Loderich as a partner. Between 1981 and 1983, the upstairs ("middle") bar and "cellar" was remodeled and expanded into its modern design. In those days, dinner entrees ranged from $2.95 to $8.95, and Manfred Mueller, a guitarist, provided music 3 nights per week. Backen and Loderich ran the Red Lion together until sometime between 1987-89, when Loderich passed away.
1990-2000: Around 1991, Walter Hohls joined Uwe Backen as a partner. During 1995-1996, the existing upper level beer garden was constructed.
2003: Former owner Uwe Backen passed away.
2004: Aidas Mattis and family, who are long-time patrons and friends of the Red Lion Tavern, purchased the establishment from Walter Hohls. The Mattis family continues to operate this neighborhood landmark.
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- Dosti, Rose. "Meaty Meals at Red Lion". Los Angeles Times, May 12, 1983.
- "History Of Los Angeles Bars, Dives, Pubs, Saloons & Taverns", www.latimemachines.com
- Ryon, Art. "The Texas-Eye View of Things". Los Angeles Times, January 8, 1962.
- Winchell, Joan. "Around Town with Joan Winchell". Los Angeles Times, October 1, 1961.