LOS ANGELES — With Major League Baseball delaying spring training and the start of the regular season due to the ongoing standoff between the league and the players union over salary discrepancies, restaurants and bars near Dodger Stadium have been bracing for a hit on their businesses.
One such restaurant, Philippe the Original, is a staple for Angelenos who have been going to the current location since 1951, with its famous French dip sandwiches being at the forefront of everyone’s minds when arriving there.
Andrew Binder has been in a management role at Philippe’s since 2010, but he has been around the restaurant his entire life. He is the fourth generation in his family to become a manager. The restaurant has been in his family since 1920 and has been passed from father to son each time.
“We moved to this location in 1951, and it was a huge stroke of luck being able to be in between Dodger Stadium and Union Station,” said Binder.
However, in the last couple of years, the restaurant has had to make drastic moves while trying to navigate through the ongoing pandemic.
“The transition to takeout only wasn’t easy, but we adjusted as necessary,” said Binder. “I know that it is frustrating to our customers. We are a destination restaurant, and we have people driving from far to come in. I don’t see the same smile on their faces till they sit down to eat. But we’re still taking baby steps through all of this.”
The pandemic isn’t the only reason for the lack of foot traffic. Having fewer Dodgers fans coming in before or after games was a punch in the gut to many business owners who had already seen drops in revenue over the past few years.
“One thing that added insult to injury was the Dodgers winning the World Series and not having any fans or even a parade,” said Binder.
Within the past three years, the city of Los Angeles has welcomed three championships between all three of their major professional sports teams, including the Lakers, Dodgers and Rams. Even so, many businesses in the Los Angeles area have struggled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Through all the hurdles the business faced, adjustments and simply being patient, according to Binder, the restaurant was lucky enough to have the support from customers buying takeout in order to sustain the business.
After making it through the pandemic with limitations on dining, MLB’s decision to carry out the lockout is yet another hurdle that these local restaurants are going to have to face.
“All businesses around here are going to be affected by it,” he said. “We want as many home games as possible, and we are always excited by the foot traffic. The lockout and losing home games is detrimental to businesses who rely on the season for a portion of the business.”
The Dodgers and Philippe’s have been linked since the beginning of both of their stints in Los Angeles. The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, only seven years after the restaurant opened its doors at its current location.
Philippe’s had always benefited from being between both Union Station and Dodger Stadium, and it became a tradition among many families to grab a sandwich before the game.
“I like to think of our fans and Dodger fans to be one and the same,” said Binder. “We live and die by the Dodgers, and we love every home game.
“I am also a big-time Dodger fan, so at times, I try to separate being a fan and running the business, but most of the time, me being a fan and the business align,” said Binder.
During Binder’s time in the restaurant, Philippe’s has been a place that has allowed many current and former Dodgers players to come and eat as well as promote their various charities, such as the Justin Turner Foundation.
As the lockout continues with seemingly no end in sight, Binder had a few thoughts about what both sides need to do.
“Get it together!” he said.