CHASEN'S IS THE GREATEST RESTAURANT HOLLYWOOD EVER HAD
I SPENT DECADES OF MY LIFE HERE. I WENT AT LEAST TWICE A MONTH WITH MY PARENTS, AND ALSO HAD EVERY BIRTHDAY HERE UNTIL IT CLOSED, WHICH, BY THE WAY, WAS THE NIGHT AFTER MY BIRTHDAY IN 1995.
When I went with my parents, who'd been coming since the 40s when it was on the Sunset Strip serving just chili, the red carpet was rolled out for them. When I got my column in the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, it was rolled out for me. I enjoyed earning it in my own right.
( I will, of course, never forget my 30th birthday. I had the bright idea to have my divorced mother and father and their spouses ALL at dinner. Big mistake. Could barely digest my food.)
I loved Tommy, Ronnie and John. When the closing was announced, I made a weekly reservation to be there until the last night. I worked a deal with John. I needed his help You see, I was determined to have a complete Chasen's service for four by the time it closed. Indeed, I have the full complement of plates, silverware, napkins--even the sugar and creamers. God Bless You, John. And I use them!
Chasen's was family. I was a little child, but I do remember Dave and Maude. I was there when stars who were real stars dined there. It was thrilling. It was like a private club that only success could get you into, and even THAT success was measured by where you sat and who was your captain. I never cared whether I was in the room on the right or the left, as long as it was the front room. And, it always was.
I was so at home there, that when BEVERLY HILLS 213 asked me to be on their cover to celebrate my first novel, I asked that it be shot in one of my favorite booths. I think, in terms of career, that was the happiest and proudest I've ever been.
There will never be another Steak Diane like theirs, or a Banana Shortcake, or Creamed Spinach. I don't care what trendy restaurant is hot right now. When they last 60 years, I may be impressed.
|On the last night I had all the Maitre'ds, captains, waiters, and busboys sign it|
|Looking toward a private room in the bar room|
|Paul Williams--my favorite architect|
|Just another night with Eddie and Elizabeth|
|The Reagans and the Bill Holdens|
|Thank you, Bristol Farms, for leaving up the facade and having a "Chasen's Room"|
FROM LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE--the usual history for those who don't know.
If you moved to Los Angeles after 1995, you may not know about Chasen’s—although the restaurant had the stuff Hollywood legends are made of. Located at 9039 Beverly Boulevard near Beverly Hills, Chasen’s opened in December 1936 and quickly became the culinary hangout of Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Lana Turner, and Groucho Marx. Jimmy Stewart held his bachelor party here, Howard Hughes was seen constantly on the house phone, Alfred Hitchcock routinely fell asleep at his table. After Johnny Carson won his third Emmy in as many years, he took all of the show’s insiders for a celebratory dinner at Chasen’s. Donna Summer wrote her hit “She Works Hard For the Money” on toilet paper in the bathroom—that was Chasen’s for you.
The restaurant, which was run by Maude Chasen and her husband Dave until his death in 1973, focused on hearty American/Continental cuisine and became as famous for its colossal seafood platters, hobo steak, a buffet that offered beluga caviar, and delicious cheese toast appetizers as its clientele. When Elizabeth Taylor was filming Cleopatra in Rome she craved their chili so much that she reportedly had her studio pay big bucks to have it shipped to Italy twice a month. For years the recipe remained a closely guarded secret, David Chasen was rumored to come the restaurant every Sunday to privately cook up a batch for the week.