A Brief History of Food Delivery in Los Angeles

Think Uber Eats is a logistical marvel? Please. Chasen’s delivered its signature chili to Liz Taylor—in Rome
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Long before Postmates and DoorDash came to town, the L.A. restaurant delivery scene was mostly limited to pizza joints and Thai and Chinese restaurants. Delivery radiuses were tiny, too, so you were pretty much stuck with what was closest to you.

The city’s long history of delivery traces its origins to the 1920s, when the Chinese restaurant Kin-Chu Cafe became one of the first to start moving the moo shu pork out the door. The owner published a newspaper ad proclaiming it was the only place on the West Coast that delivered “real” Chinese food—late into the night, until 1 a.m.

In the 1950s, Hollywood hot spot Casa D’Amore was a trailblazer in offering free pizza delivery, as long as the customer met the minimum purchase requirement of $2.50.

At Chasen’s, the legendary Hollywood haunt, celebrity fans of its prized chili went to extremes to get it delivered. Owner Dave Chasen, ever attuned to the whims of his A-List clientele, was more than happy to accommodate. The restaurant shipped chili by plane every two weeks to a jonesing Elizabeth Taylor in Rome while she was filming Cleopatra. Chasen’s also delivered to Clark Gable while he was hospitalized; rumor has it that the chili was the last thing the actor ate before he died in 1960.

Webcentric delivery arrived in the 1990s with Pizza Hut’s PizzaNet, where the first online pizza order was placed: a large pepperoni with mushrooms and extra cheese. Starting in the 2010s, the delivery space was inundated with the app-based Caviar, Uber Eats, and the rest, rendering a trek across town when you have a craving a thing of the past.


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