Colombo’s: the Melting Pot of Eagle Rock

This is a story I did for the Highland Park News.

Colorado Boulevard has the spot for good food, friendly smiles and amazing entertainment. Colombo’s bar and restaurant, open 7 days a week, has been around since 1954. It has become an Eagle Rock institution. Regular Mary Duffy-Petersen says, “It’s almost like a party every Friday night.” Autumn Hays, who works in Glendale, comes in with her co-workers for lunch several times a week. She says her favorite night is Monday. There is a lot of excitement about coming in to Colombo’s any time.

It is true; Colombo’s has great food. The original owner Sam Colombo is the one who developed their hand-rolled lasagna recipe, along with the other Sicilian-inspired Italian dishes. Chef Raul Villasenor has been serving the people’s favorites for 16 years. But Colombo’s is more than just food.

When entering the restaurant, the smoky-mirrored walls and romantic gold-framed paintings on the wall invite pleasant relaxation. The red overstuffed upholstery and crisp white tablecloths bring to mind the glamour of Hollywood. Pretty beaded lamps light the booths, and management makes sure to put fresh flowers on every table.

The evenings are filled with music—jazz music. Every night features a talented line-up. As manager Vic Parrino said, “One of the things we are trying to offer is entertainment that you don’t have to pay for. We don’t have a cover…We hope people will be willing to drive a little farther than they would otherwise just for dinner.”

They have live music every night of the week. On Thursdays, the Fiaumara Armbrewster Quartet takes the floor. Friday and Saturday nights Linda Lopez tickles the ivories. Eric Exstrand’s trio plays Sunday and Monday, and Wednesday is the performer wildcard, featuring various local talent.

Customers love to hear the band play, and often join right in. Linda Lopez has a steady stream of vocalists coming to the mike stand at the piano. Eric Exstrand leads his band in a jam session, with all kinds of drop-in musicians joining. As one patron said: “You don’t have to be a great singer. You don’t even have to be a good singer. Everybody’s part of the party at Colombo’s.”

For those who might not be swept away into the music, or those who just want a place to talk and laugh with friends, the bar has a lot to offer. Separate from the dining area, it is a place to belly up and socialize. Tony the bartender is generous with the liquor; he makes a mean key lime martini. The TV at the end plays sports, and the painting of a lounging female nude behind the bar reminds everyone to get flirty.

Mrs. Ann Colombo still comes to the restaurant every day. When her husband Sam passed on about 5 years ago, nephew Vic Parrino took over the business. He is proud to be part of it: “It’s a tradition my aunt and uncle worked very hard to establish. There aren’t a lot of family owned businesses.” His pride is evident in the way things are done.

When Vic came to Colombo’s he brought Yolanda Nagueira in to assist. She is the one who started the entertainment line up. She made a lot of nice touches to the décor, and her friendly smile really lights up the place. More than one person can tell how Vic and Yolanda have done great things at Colombo’s.

Colombo’s is located at 1833 Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock. They are open 7 days a week. Monday through Friday, they are open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. On Saturdays, they open at noon and close at 11 p.m., and Sundays they are open from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.