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Atomic Café, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

Atomic Cafe

Photo by Bibbe Hansen, 2013, from Wikimedia Commons

Located at 422 East First Street in the downtown Los Angeles Little Tokyo District (southwest corner of Alameda and First Streets), the diner was opened by Ito and Minoru Matoba in 1946 and reflected the early post-World War II period pop-culture obsession with the newly emerging atomic age. In 1977, after daughter “Atomic Nancy” Sekizawa began managing the café, she covered the walls with Punk Rock posters and fliers and turned it into a hangout for punk rock fans and musicians. It laid claim to having the only punk rock jukebox in Los Angeles. The café took on an eclectic blend of Japanese and Punk culture.

Atomic Cafe, Little Tokyo

Atomic Café in Little Tokyo, 1980s. Graphical image.

The café closed in 1989 and the brick building that housed it went on to be used by the eateries Troy Café (1990-1995) and Señor Fish (1995-2014). The building was demolished in 2015 to make way for the underground Little Tokyo/Arts Distrist Station as part of the Regional Connector Transit Corridor, to be opened in 2022.

Former location of Atomic Cafe, 2009

Former location of Atomic Café at corner of Alameda and First Streets, 2009 (then Señor Fish restaurant). Photo from Google Maps, Copyright 2009 Google.

Read more about the Atomic Café in a KCET article by Yosuke Kitazawa.