Ito and Minoru Matoba opened the Atomic Cafe in 1946. For the next forty years they served teriyaki dinners, chow mein, and chop suey alongside in-house creations like the mysterious Hamburger Gacha to an ever-changing downtown crowd. When the Matoba’s daughter Nancy took over the jukebox and the front of the house in the late 70s, the Atomic– for most of its run at 1st and Alameda– became the L.A. punk scene’s after-hours headquarters. Little Tokyo old-timers rubbed elbows with members of X and The Germs as the restaurant filled with songs by Roy Rogers, Yuzo Kayama, Henry Mancini, and The Weirdos. The jukebox became as famous as the food and by the 1980s listings for pork chop suey and a side of kamaboko were printed atop faded 45s by the B-52s and The Selecter. In 2009, “Atomic Nancy” stopped by Dublab to spin a set of some of her favorites from the legendary jukebox. Click above to listen. 

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