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The Proud Bird at LAX To Close after 57 Years A Retro Roadmap Special Report

Posted on: October 10, 2013

UPDATE January 2014: It is with heavy heart that I let you know that Retro Roadmap Reporter Keith V paid a return visit to the Proud Bird after they said they were going to remain open on weekends for another year, and he’s extremely disappointed at how things have changed. Please note this while making your plans to visit.

Keith Reports:

As much as it hurts me to say this–The Proud Bird should have closed their doors for good back in December 2013 as originally planned. Although they will always be a cool place to visit thanks to their unique decor and amazing view, The Proud Bird is no longer worth eating at. Cut backs or not you can’t go from serving four star food to low grade slop and expect people to stay. I thank the manager for comping our entire meal but free bad food with poor service is still bad food and crap service.R.I.P. Proud Bird. Although you may still live, you are dead to me.


Retro Roadmap Readers – Mod Betty is proud to announce she’s got some able assistance in reporting from The Other Coast – longtime pal and fellow old-soul, Mr. Keith Valcourt of Los Angeles, California!

Keith Valcourt - Our L.A. Retro Roadmap Reporter!

Keith Writes:
I live for retro. Be it music, culture, fashion or food, it is my joy. My wife and I moved to Los Angeles from New York in 1998 and since then we have committed ourselves to searching out the best in down home retro restaurants, old tyme shops and and historical hang-outs. Vowing never ever to eat at anything that is part of a chain or run by a corporate giant. (Except Ikea. Those damn meatballs are addictive.) So imagine how thrilled I was when Mod Betty asked me to write about some of my favorite throwback spots here in sunny California. I hope you will visit each and every one and enjoy them as much as we do.

He has graciously taken time out of his busy Hollywood schedule to add some legendary Los Angeles places to the Retro Roadmap, and what better place to start than with The Proud Bird, which is CLOSING this December 21,  after 57 years in business. Go there now!

And now, without further ado…

THE PROUD BIRD: Where Taste Takes Flight.” by Keith Valcourt

First up is the Proud Bird, a must for fans of aviation ranging from the veteran flight jockeys to kids fascinated by Disney’s recent “Planes” movie. Located within a five minute drive of LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), this joint first opened its doors in 1957 and has hosted countless weddings, conventions, parties, proms and hundreds of thousands of happy diners in its five plus decades in business.
The Sign Proud Bird - LAX Los Angeles, CA
The decor is your basic banquet hall beige table and chairs with white linens. Not much to look at. But once you gaze up at the walls and giant windows you realize this place is a living breathing museum to the history of flight and aviation. Thousands of vintage black and white photographs cover three of the four interior walls. Broken down into sections like “Innovators” and “Early Flight.” Not to mention the sections about air battle in every single war and conflict and spaces dedicated to each airplane company.
The Proud Bird - LAX Los Angeles, CA
The fourth wall in the main dining rooms is two levels of ceiling to floor clear glass windows that allow you to gaze upon the outside garden that features several historical full size planes. And if you want action? No problem. The Proud Bird sits just mere feet away from LAX’s active runways. I counted no less than 65 flights landing and taking off during my one hour lunch. You can even listen to live air traffic feeds from the airport’s control tower with table side headphones.

The Proud Bird - LAX Los Angeles, CA

Apart from the main dinning room, The Proud Bird has a giant free standing banquet hall and several smaller rooms for private events. Each dedicated and named after aviation giants of the past. The “Tuskegee Airman” room has a lovely outdoor patio. While the “Churchill Room” is fittingly dark and stogie like its namesake. My 5 year old son and I were welcome to roam freely room to room exploring each and ever one, soaking in the unique ambiance.
Churchill Room The Proud Bird - LAX Los Angeles, CA

But I know you’re asking “Um, how’s the grub?” A-Maz-Ing. I had the Prime Rib Sandwich, that comes complete with tasty fries and your choice of horseradish (creamy or raw) all for just $13.00. The meat was melt in your mouth tender and the bread freshly made. I already mentioned the fries—Tasty.
Good Eats The Proud Bird - LAX Los Angeles, CA
My wife loved the harvest salad with raspberry vinegrarette ($8.00) and French Onion Soup (Just $4.50.) Our children had the all inclusive kids meals ($8.00) which included a drink and mini ice cream sundae. All in all a must visit for anyone who love kitsch, travel, planes and great food.

There were only two negative points to bring up.

First, the place charges a “Living Wage” of 15% that gets added to your total bill. This is not a tip or gratuity (it says so on the bill) but rather a way for the restaurant to pay their staff fair wages without paying them with their money. You still have to tip. This combined with taxes being calculated on your bill AFTER the 15% suddenly makes a $46.00 lunch cost closer to $70.00.

The other bad thing is after 57 years in business The Proud Bird restaurant is only open for weekends now, for the next year, and her future is uncertain.

LAX owns the land and no matter what, they have told the Bird’s owners that they have to be out and gone by then. LAX has other plans for the land. Maybe a strip mall with a CVS. Not enough of those around. So much like other Los Angeles landmarks– The Brown Derby, Tail Of The Pup and Billingsley’s (Valley Location) this piece of history will be torn down. Rumor is the larger catering hall may still exist for events. I can only hope everyone will flock to visit The Proud Bird before it gets grounded for good at the end of the year. I will be going back as much as possible. Over and out.