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Never thought I’d be speaking up for Denny’s. But Armando Bueno the maître d’ here and I are shaking our heads in their lobby and wondering aloud: why?

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Why are they going to tear up this beautiful old building?

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“This architect, Jonathan Segal, wants to put up a modern apartment complex here where we are,” he says. “But people love this old pink building! And we don’t want to leave.”

This is the Denny’s in the old Fat City-China Camp eateries at the corner of Pacific Highway and Hawthorn Street (2137 Pacific Highway). People like Nat King Cole and Shelly Winters used to turn up here, back in the day.

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It's a beautiful pile of pink stucco loaded with walkways and plants and patios, with echoes of Fat City/China Camp days still ringing.

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And round the back, actual machinery from mining days. The art deco-Chinese-pioneering thing it has going is enough for most of us. It's our history.

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But the purists and the developers say 1941 isn’t old enough to get a historic designation. That’s 70 years! What's it got to be, 1491?

Latest is that they’ll save a chunk and move it from its nice garden-feeling place to a cramped corner site. Guess we should be thankful for that. But no more the China Camp feel.

Sigh. The king o’ the block will become its little curiosity corner.

“And we’ll still lose our jobs,” says Armando. "I hear this Denny's will be closing around December."

Think I’ll head in and blow ten bucks on a late brekkie: that meat-lover’s scramble ($9.49). Gotta get it while you can.

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