Los Angelenos: Does anybody remember Stern's Barbecue?

I was in LA years ago. During my time there, I had the pleasure to eat at Stern’s Barbecue in Culver City. The meal was great, and the barbecue sauce was superb.

A quick check of the 'Net tells me that Stern’s is long out of business. So, a few questions:

– When did it go out of business?
– Why did it go out of business? (It was so good, I have to believe something happened, other than the food.)
– Where can I get the recipe for that barbecue sauce?

Thanks in advance!

Stern’s was founded by my great-grandfather Isidor Stern in 1922, and after his passing run by his sons Eddie, Max, and finally when Max died in the early 70’s by Max’s son Hal Stern. Hal made some controversial changes in personnel and the menu and opened a second location. The new Stern’s had some problems, and Hal was not a restauranteur at heart. Much to the dismay of generations of customers he closed up shop and relocated to Arizona to practice real estate and tend to his horses. Hal still resides in Flagstaff. He’s been asked many times over the years for recipes, particularly Stern’s sauce but Hal has declined, saying he doesn’t think they’d be done justice. Personally, I can still taste those ribs and miss terribly those wonderful Sunday dinners with my Uncle Max.

Where was it? I grew up in Culver City (behind the Fox Hills Mall) and am drawing a complete blank. I lived there from about ‘74 – ’88.

Washington Blvd. iIRC

Here’s the site as of today. As I recall it was a First Federal bank during the 80’s.

Thank you, jmudrick! Yes, one of your photos is exactly the place that I remember, and the menu is too (though as I recall, the prices were a little higher when I ate there). And like you, I can still taste that sauce and those ribs.

I’m sorry to hear that Hal wasn’t a restaurateur, and won’t release the recipe. Stern’s BBQ was a great place, and I’ve never had such terrific BBQ before or since.

Thanks again for the info!

You’re welcome. Of course that menu was from 1965.

My uncle reminds me that Stern’s did continue to operate on Washington for some time after Hal sold the business. Following a fire critical parts of the cooking facilities could not be rebuilt under the applicable building codes and thus the restaurant did not reopen.

I lived on Clarington at Palms from 1987 to 2003. Sterns must have been gone by that time.

In the summer of 1988, I was once again in LA and thought I’d stop by Stern’s for another meal. Nope; the building was there, but the business was closed.

I loved Stern’s, especially their hot (oven heat, not spice) bbq sauce. It was brownish, not red, and was with chunky with chopped and shredded meat from the bbq’ed briskets I assume. I can taste it now!!! They had awesome house made beans and French rolls, too. That was a dinner for special occasions at my house as a kid…sliced brisket, beans, cole slaw and rolls. Once all the meat was gone, I’d pull some of the bread out of the center of a roll, stuff it with beans and have a bean po-boy. Those were the days. They went out of business in 1983 I believe, as my GF and I got some brisket, sauce and rolls to go after they announce a closing date. I think the GF must have flirted with the counter guy, as she returned with about 4 lbs of brisket for the price of 1 lb. A sad day for meat eaters in L.A. As mentioned before, the recipe for the sauce is a Holy Grail of bbq fans everywhere, so far, no luck…dang it.

Good to know there’s another fan of Stern’s with us here at the SDMB, 7echo. Welcome! Stick around; we’ll get that sauce recipe yet!

I wanted to go again many years ago but found it GONE! I checked here again today to see if there was any change.
As a kid I stayed with my grandparents in Inglewood during the summers in the 50’s and 60’s. There was not a summer that we didn’t go at least once. I remember it fondly and well. The golden years aren’t quite so golden with so many fondly remembered places gone.

I remember Stern’s well although I haven’t thought about it in years. Apparently it went out of business shortly after I left town.

So, YOU’RE the cause! :smiley:

I was born and raised near Venice and La Cienega and am another one who would love to track down the sauce recipe. As has been pretty well established, it probably ain’t gonna happen. Apparently a significant component was trimmings from the previous day’s meats. Having made my peace that the recipe will never be shared, I also very fondly remember the beans and potato salad (often ordering two servings of one or the other). Anybody have a handle on those?

Interesting thread here with some hints

And here

Interesting site. I note with interest that one of the messages from Margie Stern to Phaedrus, the operator of that website, says the following:

Although that message is over two years old, I’m hoping the delay is in getting the recipe just right and that we’ll see a Stern’s sauce for sale at some point.

I’ve created a Stern’s Fans page at Facebook. I invite you all to share whatever you’d like about The Barbecue there.