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Here's to your health

October 31, 2001

Molly Shore

MAGNOLIA PARK -- When Kathryn and Edward "Barney" Matheson opened Full

O' Life Foods in 1959, the couple was well ahead of the curve on health

food trends.

Forty-two years later, their pioneering efforts in nutrition have

become the standard for many people who live and eat healthy.

Before health food chain markets became popular, customers arrived at

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Full O' Life from all over the San Fernando Valley, even as far away as

Thousand Oaks, recalled 80-year-old Kathryn Matheson, the family

matriarch who oversees the daily operation of the business since Barney's

death 10 years ago.

The market and restaurant, 2515 W. Magnolia Blvd. near Buena Vista

Street, looks the same today as it did when it opened, Matheson said.

"The only thing that has changed was that we [stocked] more products

through the years," Matheson said.

Today, Matheson works side by side with daughters Patti Comstock, 43,

and Cindy Moon, 41. But there's no doubt who's in charge.

"Mom's the overall boss," Patti emphasized.

Cindy manages the restaurant and runs the office. Patti works in the

market, and her husband, Clint, a naturopathic doctor, runs the vitamin

department and offers nutritional counseling.

Another family member, brother James, whose dental practice is down

the street from the market, worked there when he was a teenager.

"He was only 16, and he ran the whole store when we went to Europe,"

Matheson said. "Our customers still remember him."

One of the reasons customers return to Full O' Life year after year is

the restaurant's food. The homemade soups, entrees and desserts have

remained consistently good.

Matheson credits this to her head chef, Jeanne Dabbadie, who has been

with her for 30 years.

"She does all the cooking and baking, starting at 5 in the morning,"

Matheson said.

Rebecca Kagan, who works nearby, has been shopping at the market and

eating at the restaurant for 10 years.

"Sometimes if I don't know what I want, I get the grilled cheese with

tomato," she said, adding that everything on the menu is delicious,

especially the pea soup.

Customers have requested that Dabbadie write a cookbook, but Dabbadie,

who learned to cook in her native France, replied that would not be

possible.

"I never measure anything," Dabbadie said.

Although no future generations of the family plan to take over the

business, Matheson said that Moon's 19-year-old son Chris would be a

welcome addition.

"I've told Chris any time he's interested, I'll give him the whole

store," she said.

For more information, call the restaurant at 845-7411 or the market at

845-8343.

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