The Bear Pit, Mission Hills, California

Recently I was watching the 1961 comedy Bachelor In Paradise, starring Bob Hope as an international playboy writer (A.J.Niles) who moves in to a suburban house in the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles to write a book about how Americans live. It’s a pretty good movie and it’s particularly fun to watch for the scenes in mid-century suburbia (especially the house interiors), filmed on location in Woodland Hills and the around Los Angeles. In one scene Niles goes to a barbecue restaurant called The Pig Pit, that was in a great mid-century modern style. Well, I don’t know if that place was a studio invention, but in the San Fernando Valley there is a great little BBQ joint called The Bear Pit Bar-B-Q that has been open since the late 1940s. The food is good, the decor has original elements like wagon wheel lamps and old beer signs, and the neon sign is pretty amazing, with working animated neon arrows. Do you think The Bear Pit inspired the movie version? The next time you’re heading along the I-5 why don’t you take a quick detour to The Bear Pit and think about it over some BBQ ribs?

A.J. Niles and realtor Rosemary Howard (played by Lana Turner) visit a tiki bar in the movie. I don’t know if the bar was made for the movie or if the scene was shot in an existing tiki bar. Here’s the movie trailer with part of the tiki bar scene. How do you like those drink garnishes? Practically a jungle in a glass!

The Bear Pit
10825 Sepulveda Boulevard, Mission Hills, CA 91345
(818) 365-2509
Open Sun-Thurs 11:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-10pm