In 1905, Los Angeles's Pacific Electric Railroad picked Piedad Yorba, the great-granddaughter of pioneer Spanish rancher Jose Antonio Yorba, to run an Old California restaurant in a 19th-century adobe at the end of its Glendale trolley line. The restaurant, Casa Verdugo, became wildly popular. It was a must-see spot for Southern California visitors, and a town grew up around it, taking the restaurant's name. When the PE tried to get rid of Piedad Yorba five years later, for once a railroad met its match. With the help of the restaurant's fans, she fought back and won despite the immense political and economic clout California railroads had at the time. In Casa Verdugo, she had created a style of restaurant that was really about a romantic and sensual vision of the good life——colorful setting, exotic food, the scent of flowers, sweet music in a foreign language, all in an atmosphere of unhurried leisure——that would be revived in the 1950s during the Polynesian restaurant craze.
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