Monday, November 09, 2009

Cook's Corner

The O.C. Gazette recently ran an article about Cook's Corner. I thought I might expand a little on the subject here.
In his 2006 book, Orange County Place Names, A to Z, historian Phil Brigandi writes, “Andrew Jackson Cook settled here in the 1880s, and gave his name to the area. In the 1930s, his son, Jack Cook, started a lunch counter and bar at the junction of El Toro Road and Live Oak Canyon Road. Today, it is a popular watering hole for motorcyclists and other canyon travelers.”
Andrew J. Cook was born in Missouri on May 9, 1846 to Hyram and Roseana Cook. Voter records show him having a fair complexion and blue eyes. In 1850 he lived in Tomlinson, Arkansas. In 1870 he lived in Los Nietos in Los Angeles County. He married Mary Ann Barker in Downey, California on Oct. 12, 1871. He and Mary (shown in the photo above), and their many children lived in Phoenix, Arizona prior to moving Orange County. Andrew died April 20, 1905 here in Orange County.
The photo above (courtesy the Orange County Archives) shows Cook's Corner during the flood of 1969.
In his 1976 book, A Boys’ Book of Bear Stories (Not for Boys): A Grizzly Introduction to the Santa Ana Mountains, historian and longtime Holy Jim Canyon resident Jim Sleeper wrote, “Distinguished equally for its excellent cuisine and quaint décor, this roadside rest stands as the gate house to the Santa Ana Mountains. For nearly 30 years the author has found Cook’s Corner a wellspring of inspiration for distilling the truth about these mountains.”
The photo above shows the place in 1970.
The website by the current owners of Cook’s Corner claims that, “...Andrew Jackson Cook... got about 190 acres of Aliso Canyon in a land trade in 1884. In 1926, his son, Earl Jack "E.J." Cook converted a cabin into a restaurant for miners and local ranchers. After Prohibition ended in 1933, alcohol begain being sold, and Cook's Corner became a full-fledged bar. In 1946, Cook bought an old mess hall from the Santa Ana Army Air Base and the tavern was born. In 1970, a Santa Ana motorcycle accessories owner purchased it and Cook's Corner was molded into what it represents today…an old-fashioned roadhouse. Cook's (as it is normally referred) is still as rugged-looking as a World War II-era-mess-hall-turned-biker-bar should look.”


Doug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Oh - I really want to go there - the menu looks great and I love that it is out away from everything. Can someone make a run out there to take photo's and overnight me a hot pastrami? said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

Very timely! The cycling group I ride with on weekends is planing to ride up the Aliso Creek bike trail to Cooks Corner for Sunday Bunch this coming weekend!

Link to our ride calendar for the ride to Cooks Corner

Anonymous, you asked for photos of how it looks today...

(photos from a recent ride to cooks)

Doug said...

As a youth, my dad would often take my to our families ranch in Live Oak Canyon, to help clear brush & cut firewood. The ranch seamed like such a long ways from our home in Garden Grove. I always knew we were close to the ranch, when we past Cook's Corner and started up the grade. I remember only a couple of times my dad & I went into the establishment. Once I order, when I was about 7, I ordered buttermilk (yuck) and chips.
My dad had told me that historically someone in our family had married a Cook. Since or family was firmly against the sale and consumption of alcohol, this did not go over too well. He referred to the Cooks as our shirttail relatives.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the photo's DregerClock.

Julie Hibbard said...

I learned to shoot pool at Cook's Corner when I was about 10. My grandmother and her boyfriend would take me and my sisters there for lunch. It was SOOOO far away from our home at El Toro and Muirlands!! :)

Melbourne Hotels said...

Such a historical place to reminisce. Thanks for the photos.

Lee Fredrickson said...

My dad and I used to go camping and fishing up in O'Neill Park in the mid 60's while he was a Marine at MCAS-El Toro. My Dad would always stop at Cook's Corner for a couple of cold ones to wet his whistle before continuing up the road to the park. I would get treated to a couple of Cokes, and play the old pinball machines that were inside. One game I remember was a bowling game - there were one sided wooden pins hanging from the top of the game, and the player slid a weighted metal disk towards the pins. The disk would hit sensors embedded into the wooden "lane" of the game and the corresponding pins above would fold back and the player would score. It's difficult to describe, but I sure loved that game, and only saw it at Cook's Corner.

Steve S. said...

Lee Fredrickson,

I remember the pin-ball game that you speak of. I loved playing that game! That's if it was ever free to play.

My Dad would stop at Cook's Corner to get himself a beer or two, and my brother, sister and me would all order strawberry soda's. I don't know where they bought these strawberry soda's from, but we loved them. This was back in the mid-sixties.

And yes, like others had commented, it did seem like a really long drive to Cook's since we lived in Laguna.

It makes me happy to see that Cook's is still there!