One advantage the San Fernando Valley has over much of the rest of Los Angeles is space. Owners have room to breathe, to grow and build a place as they see fit, without running up against some other competing business or office building.
Owner David Tallichet took to Van Nuys to open his World War-recreating restaurant 94th Aero Squadron back in 1973, when land was even cheaper in the heart of the Valley. Tallichet found some space right next to today’s Van Nuys Airport, which at the time was the Van Nuys Air National Guard Base. The airport was founded in the 1920s and purchased by the Air Force in 1942 during the height of World War II.
Tallichet’s plan was always to bring a sense of the European theater to his restaurant. A World War II Army vet himself, the owner was keen to stylize a kind of French farmhouse, with bits and pieces of the war left strewn about just so. There’s the old American Jeeps out on the lawn, the layers of photographs and memorabilia along the walls, and the private event space room meant to fully recreate a bombed-out barn.
It’s an oddly macabre backdrop for corporate events and weddings, but with warm string lights and a roaring fire, the war-torn private room manages to find some peace. Add in the soft landing of personal aircraft from the runway just steps beyond, and it’s easy to understand why Tallichet chose this plot of land against all the others in the wide San Fernando Valley.
Today’s 94th Aero Squadron is a mellow affair, with live weekend music and buyouts for old-timers and nostalgic types looking to throw an event. The place is filled with history that spans generations still, though the menu is classic American contemporary with cocktails, burgers and steaks, and the like. There’s another 94th Aero Squadron restaurant down in San Diego as well, but for charm and circumstance it’s hard to outdo the original, tucked right up against the Van Nuys Airport.
94th Aero Squadron Restaurant
16320 Raymer St.
Van Nuys, CA
Update: A previous version of this article listed the theme as World War II, though many of the details reflect World War I.