There are designers who specialize in making new buildings look old — fabricating that used and loved look before any actual customers arrive. Their tools include distressed wood, scratched steel and pre-aged Naugahyde, for an instant patina of decades.
You can admire such artistry at many establishments around L.A., or visit the café at Full O’ Life Natural Foods in Burbank for the real thing. The lunch counter facing the steel and glass cabinet of pies and baked goods is not a simulation. Nor are the pies, or everything else served at Full O’ Life. The store has specialized in organic and healthy foods since 1959.
I had been told the café was vegetarian, and brought a vegan as one of my dining companions. He found plenty to choose from, but so did the omnivores at the table. Greek-style lamb over brown rice tempted me, as did a grilled BBQ tofu sandwich (not because I like tofu much, but because an establishment that has served it for 50 years might know how to make it interesting). At our server’s suggestion I ordered a turkey reuben instead, while my companions had a soup and salad combo and the vegetarian pad Thai.