Credit to Author: Drew Schwartz| Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2020 19:59:34 +0000
After Bethany Cosentino wrapped up the tour for 2015's California Nights, she was "creatively paralyzed." For the first time since 2009, when she started Best Coast with Bobb Bruno, she couldn't write a song. She spent her days barricaded inside her house, binge-watching Vanderpump Rules and drinking wine alone on her couch. She worried that she might never be able to write again.
Desperate to break out of that funk, she locked herself in a closet, forced herself to work on a song, and managed to get something down on paper. It was a vision of what she wanted her life to look like: a life in which she was happy, clear-eyed, and, most importantly, sober. That song, "Everything Has Changed," wound up becoming the cornerstone of Best Coast's new album, Always Tomorrow, out February 21. For the most part, Cosentino is finally living the life she envisioned: She quit drinking in November of 2017, and she's been sober ever since.
If you had asked her about her favorite spot in her hometown of Los Angeles a few years ago, she might have told you about the karaoke bar in her neighborhood, or some dive in Atwater, but these days, she's frequenting places that are a little more wholesome. Her favorite is Foxy's Restaurant, a diner in Glendale that's been open since the 60s, and hasn't changed much since.
For the first installment of VICE's new series I Know a Place, wherein musicians we dig share their favorite local haunts, we asked Cosentino to give us a guide to Foxy's, and tell us why—more than any other spot in the bustling, restaurant-saturated city of LA—a kooky little diner next to a cheap motel is her go-to haunt.
VICE: How long have you been going to Foxy's, and how did you first discover it?
Bethany Cosentino: In the seventh grade, I had a science teacher named Ms. Chamberlain. She was really cool, and kind of grungy, and had really cool style. Everyone used to talk about how during the summer, she worked at this restaurant called Foxy's. She was, like, the cool, hot teacher, so everyone was like, "Foxy Ms. Chamberlain works at Foxy's during the summer!" So I always knew about it. It's in the town I grew up in. I go to this ridiculous outdoor mall a lot in Glendale called The Americana, and it's across the street from there. I saw it one day and I was like, "Oh fuck, that's the place Ms. Chamberlain used to work at!" So I started going, and it's, like, the coolest place ever.
I would say it probably hasn't been updated since the 60s. The front of the building is an A-frame, and it has this big fireplace that's metal, and weird—it has this chain-mail style curtain over the fireplace. It's very bizarre. So when you first walk in it just looks like a poorly decorated establishment: There's just cheesy, bad diner-restaurant style stuff. There's one of those classic bad restaurant decor things where it's a wine-holder, and it's a man, and he's leaning back, so it looks like it's this guy leaning backwards drinking a whole bottle of wine. There's a classic wicker basket filled with shitty lollipops. And then you look to either side and all the sudden you see this beautiful old wood, and these crazy fireplaces, and these old vinyl booths, and every table has its own toaster, which is really cool. When you first walk in, you're a little bit like, What is this? And then you look to either side and it's just a very classic, 60s-inspired, cool-looking wood diner.
What do you like so much about it?
I love a diner. I didn't have that growing up—in Los Angeles we have diners, but they're not the same as they are on the East Coast. I find Foxy's to have that vibe of just a classic diner experience. I like that you find that in the middle of this city that's been redeveloped, where across the street there's this crazy mall with these condos that are super expensive. It's nice that there's just this piece of history dead-center in the middle of Glendale. I've seen Glendale change a lot over the years, but it's very clear that Foxy's has not.
Don't get me wrong, the whole city hasn't been renovated and redeveloped, but there is a lot of stuff that gets torn down and changed. It's really cool when there are these old landmark places that have been there for so many years and they never get updated, and that's one of those places. I feel like I'm this weird Glendale tour guide sometimes, and I'm always trying to make people think Glendale is cool, because people in LA are sometimes like, "Glendale?" And I'm like, "Yeah, shut up, it's the best." So it is sort of one of those places where if you're visiting, or if you're a friend who's never been, I'm taking you. I want you to experience the toaster-at-the-table energy.
What kind of people hang out there?
It's funny, because it's such a mixture. You see a lot of classic older diner people, who are there having their breakfast and refilling their coffee and all that. And then you see really hip people. Sometimes I'll be there and I'm like, Where did that person come from? And then you see a lot of families. That's something I really like about the diner experience in America: There's just so many different types of people that frequent it. It's not a cool, hip restaurant. I like that diners have this vibe of, like, it's for everybody.
What are the servers like?
There's one server there that I'm obsessed with. She's an older woman, she has very big white hair, and she wears it in this big curl up on top of her head. My classic thing to order there is just a grilled cheese, and every time I order it—I go there pretty often—she always tells me, "Just so you know, our grilled cheese has tomato and avocado in it." And I'm like, "I know. You tell me that every time I come here." I love that she tells it to me every time, that she doesn't remember me. And she's usually always the server that I get. There's her, and then there's some younger people. The manager is this really cool boss lady that wears a suit all the time, which is so random, because it's a diner.
What's your go-to order?
I'm a big grilled cheese person. They actually have a really good cream of mushroom soup that they make in-house. I assumed it was going to be like Campbell's condensed milk soup or whatever, and when it came it was so good. It has different types of mushrooms in it—there were portobello mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms. It's actually one of the best cream of mushroom soups I've ever had. And then I always do iced tea. I love iced tea, and I love that there's endless free refills.
For breakfast, I'll usually get a veggie omelette with toast. They have toasters at the table: If you get a booth, you have your own toaster. I have gluten intolerance, but it's one of those places where I'll just fucking eat it anyway. I'll take my digestive enzymes and be like, "Fuck it, I have a toaster at my table, of course I'm going to eat bread." It's so cool. The other really funny thing is the toasters are really shitty. They're like Kenmore, cheap-ass toasters. The toaster doesn't pop back up; you kind of have to push the knob to get the toast to come up. I straight up watch people in this restaurant sticking their forks in these toasters trying to get the toast out. And I'm just like, Someone's gonna get fucked up here one day. It's gonna be bad. So I have oftentimes wanted to micromanage and be like, "You guys need to figure out your toaster situation, because your toast doesn't pop back up, and people are putting themselves in danger."
What was one of your favorite experiences there?
The time I went there for my birthday. I was just with two close friends. I was having a karaoke birthday party at a bar kind of nearby. We were sitting next to a table that was a whole family with this little girl celebrating her birthday, and they sang her "Happy Birthday," and I was like, "It's my birthday too!" and she was like, "Happy birthday!"' It was just really sweet. When I'm in diners, I feel wholesome. It's this sweet sort of innocence that I feel like I used to experience when I was a kid and we would go to Denny's or something.
How often do you go?
I go probably three times a month. I live super close to it, so I'll use it as a place to tell somebody, if we're going to meet up, just meet me at Foxy's. I try to go pretty regularly, but as my schedule picks up, I don't get to go as much as I'd like. It is one of those places where I feel like it's inner-circle for me. I do a lot of close friend things there. I wouldn't take someone there that I didn't really, really like.
What about Foxy's feels classically LA to you—that it could only exist in LA, or that it feels emblematic of what LA is?
It's very classic. Some of my favorite places are the places that haven't really been touched, they haven't been renovated. And the only real things that change are the scenery around them. Glendale is a perfect example of that. It has changed so much since I was a kid growing up here, and everything around it is brand new and shiny. I love that it's just old-school LA. It reminds me of shit that you would see in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. That vibe of places that don't really exist—I mean, they still exist—but they're few and far between at this point.
Another reason I really like it is it doesn't feel like you're in LA when you're in there. It feels almost like a diner somewhere in the mountains, or cabin in the woods-esque. It kind of feels like you're in Big Bear. But then you step outside and you're across the street from one of the biggest, most famous outdoor malls in Los Angeles. I like that it's a momentary escape from the busyness of the city, but you haven't really escaped it at all.
How devastated would you be if Foxy's closed?
I'd be really bummed. It's usually pretty poppin', it's pretty crowded, it's pretty much a Glendale staple—but I wouldn't be surprised. Shit just goes left and right here, to put up a new fuckin' condo or a new meditation juice store. I'm just like, We have enough of those! But I would be really sad. It's one of those places where if I ever hear it's closing down, I'll be the person that starts the Change.org: "We Can't Let This Place Go, It's a Glendale Legacy."
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.