The Queens Arms Restaurant: Dining Fit for a King

The landmark 1960s-'70s establishment, housed in an ornate castle, was popular for its themed waiters, period decor and lavish Sunday brunches.

The Queens Arms was a spectacular, Disneyland-like sight along Ventura Boulevard between Hayvenhurst and Libbit avenues. It was opened in 1956 by co-owners Chris and John Skoby.

Skoby's Drive In in Burbank was the duo's first restaurant, and the Queens Arms, their fourth. I spoke with Lou Skoby, my friend since junior high, about the origin and success of the Queens Arms.

His father, Chris Skoby, had planned the restaurant based on his visits to Europe during the 1940s, when he fell in love with the architecture. He found a designer who was active in the film industry.

"The main interior designer of the Queens Arms was Martin Obzina, who was a top art director for Alfred Hitchcock on many of his films," Lou Skoby said.

From my own childhood visits to the restaurant, I vividly recall it looking like the inside of the Addams family house.

There was a full-size knight in armor in the foyer and elaborate Renaissance-themed murals on the walls. I could picture a court jester coming in to perform for us when viewing these murals, but often had to settle for my Uncle Jack's latest comedy shtick.

"The most popular dish was the Flaming Sword, a brochette of beef, which was served on an actual sword and set ablaze tableside," said Skoby.

Many celebrities dined at the Queens Arms during its heyday, including Encino residents Dick Van Dyke and Steve Allen. Allen once spoke at an anti-nuclear rally at the restaurant, and many protesters picketed outside.

Many top-notch entertainers performed in the Queens Arms lounge during the restaurant's halcyon period. I went to see Gary Lewis of Gary Lewis and the Playboys perform there in 1974. Hearing hits like "This Diamond Ring" and "Green Grass" performed live in my own neighborhood was quite a thrill for this 14-year-old, sipping a Shirley Temple and trying to look cool in a clip-on tie.

As the Brady Bunch-inspired 1970s decade rolled on, the Queens Arms fell on harder times.

"Before Proposition 13, property tax was very high," said Skoby. "Also the unions were very tough to deal with and the large staff of the restaurant was costly."

So, in 1975 the Queens Arms closed its drawbridge for the final time, but actually lived on, for a short time, as the Spaghetti Castle, a family-oriented restaurant with cheaper fare that never really took off.

The Queens Arms site on Ventura, now occupied by a market, was taken over for several years by Terry York Chevrolet, which was next door on the corner of Hayvenhurst for many years.

I remember seeing the spires of the castle towers behind the houses on Moorpark Street to the north and seeing the restaurant lit up at night whenever my family would drive by.

Lou Skoby and some of our buddies went to lunch at the Queens Arms after our Mulholland Junior High School graduation in June 1975. I remember having Rouqefort dressing on my salad, tossed at the table, for the first time. The restaurant made being a '60s Encino kid really special for me.

Susan Spillman September 28, 2011 at 01:15 PM
I had totally forgotten about this place. I really enjoy your blasts from the pasts. Your memory is way better than mine.
cathy scheibe September 28, 2011 at 01:56 PM
I remember celebrating my sixteenth birthday at the Queen's Arms. My parents took me there for a special dinner with my two best friends, Kerry Moore and Charlsie Aranaga. It was so much fun.
Hal Lifson September 28, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Thanks Susan! The Encino of the 1960s and '70s was a special place, especially for a kid. So many great things to do and experience. No ipods, laptops, or X Box. A much simpler time and yet, full of excitement. Vehicle of choice: Schwinn Sting Ray. Next week: Sonny and Cher's '60s Encino home! Check out my Sherman Oaks Patch articles if you like this one. Take care, Hal
Hal Lifson September 28, 2011 at 03:00 PM
The Queens Arms was a very special place to so many. I was fortunate enough to know the owner's son, Lou Skoby and got a "backstage tour" there one night!
Gene Brown September 28, 2011 at 06:20 PM
I remember the Queen's Arms very well. Your picture is of the King's Arms in Toluca Lake, which I also remember from the '60's and '70's.
Barry Litzer September 28, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Saw "Gary Lewis and the Playboys" there several times over a month span.
Lois Nolen September 29, 2011 at 03:16 PM
I loved the Queen's Arms, a large group of us that used to work at then "Aratex", also know as "Work Wear" used to go there for lunch at least once a week. It was wonderful. I'm recalling other great places there on the boulevard. Samoa House, Montys, Encino Bowl and the Fireside.
Jane Blitz September 30, 2011 at 08:04 PM
I had my Bat Mitzva party at the Queen's Arms! I remember my parents taking us there for dinner on special occasions. They had something called "strawberry whip" which I remember as being wonderful!
Cristina Anagnos February 13, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Thank you Hal Lifson for such a great article about my father and uncle's restaurant! What a wonderful piece of family history to share with my husband and boys, who never got to meet my dad. My favorite memory is having the banana fritters for Sunday brunch. Cristina Skoby Anagnos
sabrina smith April 22, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Does anyone know of the receipe for Strawberry Whip? It was amaazing!!! How I miss the old days, of the Valley!! I'm still here btw! :)
Hal Lifson April 22, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Hi Sabrina Don't recall the recipe but remember Strawberry Whip N Chill dessert quite fondly! Check out my web site HalLifson.com and if you click into Patch section, you will see a lot of my articles there. Keep in touch, Hal
Laura Sapia February 21, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Thanks for the great article, Hal! I had just been talking with my siblings and friends about Queen's Arms and other places in the valley, so it was a real treat to find your article with pictures and all! I will check out your website. Have you seen the San Fernando Relics page on Facebook? It is a great page for reminiscing about great valley memories. Do you remember the cool old restaurant from the 60's called Buffalo Bill's on Reseda Blvd? It was equally enchanting - with a huge statue of Buffalo BIll out front and a big western style room with dining tables inside of stage coaches and jail cells! SFV Relics has a picture of that on their page. Best, Laura
Gary Hertzberg March 03, 2013 at 05:48 AM
I do remember going to the Queens Arms as a 12 year old. After dinner the wait staff brought around a dessert cart with cakes, pies and pasteries. My father said that we would pass on dessert, but I could not help myself and ordered a chocolate covered eclair. for my impertinence I got a severe tongue lashing all the way home in the car.
Wendy Phillips March 25, 2013 at 10:47 PM
I was born and raised in Encino, and there was no better restaurant than the Queens Arms ~ it was always my family's favorite place. I, too, went there for my Birmingham High graduation in 1974. I still live in the Valley and can't believe how much it's changed. I also remember Love's BBQ, the Ice Skating Rink (now a self-storage facility) on Ventura between White Oak and Reseda, and the in-ground, trampolines although I can't exactly remember where that was ~ I want to say closer to Tampa?
Louis Skoby March 26, 2013 at 01:23 AM
I haven't had a chocolate eclair as good EVER again in my life ( compared to the ones at the Queen's Arms)! Great story, Lou Skoby
Cher Minas Orlick May 02, 2013 at 04:15 PM
I really enjoyed everyone's comments on Encino and the queens arms restaurant. Great memories!! Still live near Encino and go their often and see the great changes although nothing was better than the old days!
Jim Rowe September 30, 2013 at 12:11 AM
LOVE THIS!!! The QA was a Great place to take your date in the 60's .... I always ordered the Marco Polo for two .....$20 Service was unreal - Two waiters & a "water boy" .. really impressed the girls ..... Miss it & The Pump Room, White Horse Inn, Heart's, Pig & Whistle, The Samoa House, etc ---- Encino isn't the same without them ... Thanks Lou - (Jim Rowe-Reseda High - 1958)


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