Monday, September 14, 2009
musso's - part 3

Here goes my third and last post about Musso's......Ahhhhh, The Counter.....This is the opposite view of the counter from the back of the restaurant looking towards the front windows facing Hollywood Blvd. Behind are the doors to The Kitchen. The huge kitchen where a lot of the cooking magic takes place, though some of the 'magic' takes place, cooking-wise right there behind the counter.When you sit at the counter and watch the way these Wizards-Of-The Short-Order make the Truly Famous Musso "Flannel Cakes"...Oh, Oh, Oh! I'm Swooning....My Dear Friend Seemah was just talking about these Flannel Cakes the other day---their "thinness"....and the fact that THAT is what makes them so incredibly different from any other restaurant---the almost paper-thin quality of these pancakes, and she was talking about going there in the late 1940's, early 1950's.---and, my dears, Musso's is STILL making them the same exact way.....Well, I think that is quite extraordinary, don't you?Here they are, above.....I think you can see the thinness. How many restaurants can say that they have been making a particular dish for years and years and years...and it is still made with the same perfection as it has been for at least 60 years---and more than likely for the entire 90-NINETY-90 years of Musso's existence. Not many. And certainly not many here in Los Angeles. Moving right along......below we can see one of the Waiters talking to the 'short order' Counter Chef....And another one walking down the aisle towards the Kitchen---getting ready for the onslaught. And don't those chairs look comfortable? I don't remember when I was last in any Restaurant that had Counter Chairs so very inviting....maybe never!And below......when you enter from the parking lot which most people do....this is what you see. Right next to the awning entryway is a small sign.....this let's you know that that particular parking space is reserved only for the owner of Musso's........To get into Musso's from the parking lot you go through that doorway at the end of the awning and down a short but very steep set of stairs.....and as you are walking down those stairs, to your left you can see the very large kitchen where so much great cooking happens......Over the years I have had any number of lunches and dinner with friends there at Musso's, some of whom happened to have achieved success in films and on television. How many meals have I had here since 1961? Who knows. But I bet it is about 100.....Back in the day, Robert and Sondra Blake were good friends. And I use to see them fairly regularly.....One night sometime in the mid to late 1970's, we had dinner together there at Musso's.....It was after Robert's great success in the film "IN COLD BLOOD", and in the TV show "Baretta", and long long long-before his infamous trial some decades later. They were of course still married to each other back then and to my eyes, happily so...We always had a lot of fun and shared lots of mutual interests. I had met Robert and Sondra back in 1962 when my dear Sammy did "PT 109" with Robert. Then Robert became a member of Theatre West around 1964.....People forget what a really talented actor he is, or was.....And Sondra is a WONDERFUL WONDERFUL actress and after their marriage ended I was still in touch with Sondra, and then she became a member of Theatre West and almost did a play of mine in 1989---Robert had left TW a long time before that....Anyway, back to Musso's.....the table we sat at was the big booth I mentioned in my first post about this wonderful restaurant---the one right in the front where the window is looking out on Hollywood Blvd.......Here below is a very interesting picture of that table from sometime earlier this year....
This picture was taken for a story on "Mad Men" in a major magazine and there were lots of other pictures of the actors at other tables ('Mad Men' had used Musso's as a location in Season Two, I think---it was sitting in for a New York Restaurant...)....Above, these are some of the Writer's of 'Mad Men' and they just happened to be all the women writer's....They are at that special over sized front booth. Why would I remember sitting their with Robert and Sondra? Well, it's because I can remember just about every time I have sat there over all these many years, and most of the time we were a small group---two or three. It is unique, you see. There is no other booth that size in the whole restaurant......
Jack Nicholson was an early member of Theatre West, too. He was there around the same time as Robert. I will never forget one of the major pieces of work he did at TW. It was a play by the incredibly talented writer, Charles Eastman. The cast---among others---was Jack N., Brett Somers and Paul Winfield...! It was pretty extraordinary.....Back then, a lot of us hung out together, especially after Workshop Nights....It was fun and a way to blow of steam. Nobody was ready to go home after Workshop, especially if it was a very exciting night of work, and there were many, in those early days. Jack was a big part of that---in fact, I remember one night Betty G. and Jack and I went back to Betty's house after the Golden Bull closed at 2 AM.....We talked all through the night and when Jack and I got ready to leave, it was daylight. So, one lunchtime sometime in the mid-1970's I was having lunch with a young friend of mine at Musso's and Jack came by the table and sat next to me for a little bit...It was so great to see him once again....My friend was kind of blown away---really really impressed! (lol) Jack was there for a 'business lunch' but he took the time to squeeze in next to me at one of those little tables for two...(Pretty good squeezing, too, I might add....) and just kind of reminisce....Believe it or not, I haven't seen him since.....

One Lunchtime around 1990-91, I had a lovely lunch with the very talented Sharon Gless.....Barney Rosenzweig, her Producer-Husband, is a very old friend of mine. We met back in 1965 and have remained friends for all these years. When Sharon and Barney got married, I performed the ceremony, which was such a sweet thing to be able to do. They were married in the garden of her house in Malibu. It was a beautiful day and a really lovely Wedding if I do say so myself. What made it so lovely was the 'realness' of it. Barney's three daughters from his first marriage stood up for him. And Sharon's brother brought her down the aisle....It was a real family affair. As for my lunch with her at Musso's, I think it was so we could get to know each other better, which we did. And she is 'the best'......And interestingly, she has been coming to Musso & Frank since she was a little girl. Her grandfather, Neil S. McCarthy, was an important Entertainment Lawyer in the early days of Hollywood, who represented people like Howard Hughes, Cecil B. DeMille and Louis B. Mayer, among many others in the Film Industry here in Hollywood. And often, if there was some kind of family celebration, this is where Sharon's whole family would come to share a meal together. And sometimes her Grandpa would just bring her here by herself---a special treat for a little girl.. To me, Sharon and her family are the perfect example of how the three generations in one family have been enjoying the wonderful hospitality of Musso & Frank over all these years--one generation passing it down to the next, and keeping it alive.Many people think and feel that there is no history here in Hollywood and that there are no Longevity-Of-Relationships. Well, that is just not true. I think Sharon's family is just one of many many many family's who have a history of partaking of these kinds of great treasures here in our city at places like Musso & Frank, and these 'family's' have been passing these traditions down from one generation to the next. Places like The Beverly Hills Hotel, and The Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and The Bel Air Hotel.....And that is why this restaurant---this Musso & Frank Restaurant, is still here......And it doesn't hurt that they own the building! And here above is how the front of Musso & Frank's looks right now.....I think it is time for the city to Honor Musso's, once again, on this, their 90th Birthday year....! A true Los Angeles treasure that hopefully will be cherished for at least another 90 years.....! Happy Birthday Musso & Frank......!

More To Come.......

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Those pancakes look divine. They looked delicate and of course mouth-watering. Musso is indeed a must see restaurant and I am really going to take a tour there soon. Reading this just blasts me to the past!

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 12:55:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

There really is something to be said about the continuity of restaurants that makes people feel so at home. There is not much of that here at all.
Now I see why you love "Burn Notice" too! I did not know that you had officiated at their wedding.
This is another one of your great posts that make us, your readers sit back and say, "Wow."
Seriously. Wow.

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 2:44:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I love restaurants with counters. There's something about eating at the counter which makes the food taste better.


Monday, September 14, 2009 at 5:25:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I love the way you write about this Hollywood tradition. You have such clear memories of all the wonderful people who have accompanied you to this restaurant over the years, and I'll be willing to bet that you even remember what you ate on each occasion! It's quite an achievement to provide a successful restaurant business for 90 years, especially in LA where fashions change almost daily! Perhaps one day I'll be able to sample those ultra-thim pancakes, they look fabulous!

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 6:22:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Great tribute to Musso's. I think you're so correct about prevalent traditions and long-lasting relationships being present. Agree they certainly don't seem to be written about much as many probably don't seek out the publicity. So many readers, certain writers and publishers, other media seem only interested in seeking out those who have something go wrong in their life as worthy news to promote -- as if all the rest of us, including them, don't experience difficult times in our lives and might appreciate a little privacy on the matter.

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 6:52:00 AM PDT 

Blogger PI
had this to say:

What a post! Full of goodies!
Apparently Robert Blake use to be in 'Our Gang ' which as a child I loved but I only really remember Spanky and the freckled one.
If I had the good fortune to visit Musso's I would linger as long as I dared on the stairs as big professional kitchens have always fascinated me. They are so exciting and theatrical. Did you ever see Arnold Weskers' 'The Kitchen,? Great play.
As for being squeezed by the great Jack and dining with Sharon I'm GREEN.
Thanks for that Naomi.

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 8:27:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Ok I have to ask you know Jack Nicolson I think I spelled it right in person??????? The man that played in The Shining for Stephan King???? Wow... Amazing.. that place looks so yummy. I am picky on what I eat and what you have mentioned looks so good... Yummy...

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 10:00:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Love reading your trips down memory lane Naomi! I love thin pancakes too!

I still can't get over you knowing Carroll O'Connor. He was one of my faves and I still mourn his passing.

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 11:15:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I am fortunate to be the 4th generation owner of Musso and Frank's. Just wanted to say it was a pleasure reading your blog and knowing we have such loyal customers. Feel free to ask for me the next time you come in. Thanks to you, your family, and your friends for helping us remain a part of Hollywood. :)

-Jordan Jones

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 2:55:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

This blog should get some sort of "National Treasure" Designation. So should you.

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 3:04:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Impressive that they have kept up the quality of their business to so many years. Hard to do with changing tastes each decade. Can definitely see why it would work as with Mad Men. Also impressive that you snuggled with the "Shark".
Guess you can tell I am impressed.

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 3:25:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Naomi, for the love of all that's holy, PLEASE write a book. It would be criminal for all these great stories of old Hollywood to be lost, and I don't trust the internet to preserve them! Am enjoying them so much.

Any chance Musso's might part with their flannel cake recipe? I am jonesing for pancakes right now.

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 6:16:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Such special memories you carry in that heart of yours, my dear. I love how you bring them to life for us, for me.

I love large booths and I love counter sitting. :) And I love skinny pancakes. If the pancakes are skinny, then so will I be, yes? :)

It's funny how some people come in and then out of our lives... like Jack, for you, I guess. Yet others stay awhile. Relationships are interesting.

Aren't you loving this cooler weather we're having?

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 7:10:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

this has been another of your wonderful story telling episodes of your life! You are so good at putting your photo's both new and old together and making a story come to life Naomi.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 4:37:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

That place is a national treasure, isn't it? I don't envy much, but I do envy that you knew Jack Nicholson. I'd sure love to sit in a booth with him!! LOL

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 6:20:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

That first picture of the long counter in tight quarters reminds me of Chick & Ruth's Deli in Annapolis, MD.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 8:37:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Very nice post and loved the pictures. I miss the old drug stores with their counters, the girls from the office and myself use to eat there every payday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 4:48:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a great memory there Naomi and I can imagine this to be a cozy place for everyone to hang out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 5:23:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh Naomi...send Jack over to Singapore, I'll buy him dinner heheheh.. :D

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 5:23:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

That was a wonderful tour. I love to hear about the normal stuff that Hollywood actors do and I'll never see Jack Nicholson again without thinking of him squeezing on over to visit you at your table!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 6:39:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

You were a part of the magic that made that restaurant what it was...and what it still is today! Wow! This was an incredible trip down Memory Lane and I'm so glad you invited us along for the ride. Thank you.

I had to stop at the part where Jack Nicholson SQUEEZED in next to you at a table for two because I tried to live vicariously through you for that moment. ;) You know how much I adore Jack Nicholson. No one in or out of Hollywood appears to be more charming and sure of himself than that man. Even today he's still got it.

Btw, I need to find a restaurant that serves ultra-thin pancakes ("flannel cakes") or learn how to make them. They look fantastic!

Once again, thanks for sharing the beautiful and historical Musso's with us in words and pictures. Nice job, Naomi! :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 6:59:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful place Naomi! I agree with someone who said that you should write a book!! You have such wonderful memories and your memory is so good!

Looks like you had a comment from one of the owners! Perhaps you could go there again at a time when there are very few people there?? If there ever is such a time?? That would be awesome if you could!

I have never heard of flannel cakes but they look yummy!

If I ever make it to LA I MUST eat at Musso's!! I sure have enjoyed reading all about it. With so many items on their menu it'd probably take me an hour to decide what I wanted!! LOL!!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 7:58:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

oh my N did you ever have a boring day!!!! I am just in awe ... love reading about so many of the actors who I so admired, love Sharon, always thought she looked so down to earth!! I hope this note finds you well!! from another LI girl!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 10:38:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

what a great read! i've been under the weather for a few days, so it's been a grand morning catching up with everyone. i haven't been in musso and frank's in years, but the next time i'm out in la, i am sooooo going to drop in! xoxoxo

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 4:55:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Really Musso's looks a wonderful place! You did a great reportage and a nice tribute, Naomi!
Love pancakes and Musso's pancakes look delicious!
Love also the decor, just beautiful! And Wow! You meet Jack Nicholson!!!

Have a nice day my dear!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 7:39:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

All of my town's supper clubs except two- are gone... I spent many enjoyable hours in those dens of iniquity, and the chain restaurants have no soul.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 7:51:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I have enjoyed your series of posts about "Musso's"
Such an enjoyable read, but then all your posts are fun to read. So much history in that old restaurant...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 8:50:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Another great article with memories that made me smile. I'm so glad you share your history as I'm living vicariously through your life because I don't know anyone famous or any place as well.

Thanks so much

Dorothy from grammology

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 6:33:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Here in the UK pancakes are usually that thin too. I have to say I prefer them too. They taste less heavy.

I love all your trips down memory lane!

Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 3:35:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I love this post- and how fab to know Jack N during the 70's - so debonair... you continue to inspire with your posts and eloquent strolls through the pathways of your past.... again, I have read your for the past few years - quite avidly- and only now comment.

You paint a vision of Los Angeles I so wish to visit. Though my more recent sojourns have been utterly charming and delightful- and I imagine, when I write of them in the years to come- with far less skill than you- they may provide some entertainment.

thanks for writing one of my favorite reads

Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:24:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Let me just say that if you and I were having lunch or dinner and Jack Nicholson came over to visit you I would be blown away too! How cool...I love your life and stories!

Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 10:11:00 AM PDT 

Anonymous Kevin Raftery
had this to say:

Isn't it a wonderful thing to have a personal history with an establishment like Musso and Frank.
In Floral Park, New York, where I grew up, there is a wonderful restaurant called Koenig's. My parents started going there in the mid 1950's after they moved out to Long Island from the Bronx. Over the years, we have celebrated weddings, confirmations, promotions and even funerals there.
I can remember one day my Mother and I going to pick my Dad up at the elevated Long Island Rail Road station which is directly across from Koenig's...the restaurant sits on a quiet corner of town in the back off of busy Tulip Ave. It was during a snowstorm, and my Dad could not drive his car home from the city as he normally would have done.
There are two rooms is the more formal dining room, and the other an informal room of rich, dark wood with a bar that is decorated in a horse motif--since many of the Belmont Racetrack crowd lunch there...upstairs is the catering hall.
We sat in the barroom that frigid February day watching the snow fall and feeling very warm there as friends and other commuters came in out of the cold.
It is a memory I think of often now that both my parents are gone...I am grateful for them establishing that history with Koenig's for me and my siblings.
Thank you for your lovely and very informative post. Kevin

Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 11:35:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

You always have the most incredible posts. YOU got to squeeze Jack? LOL!!! What a wonderful life you have. I could sit and listen to your story for hours on end. Those pancakes sure look good too.

Somehow I think when and if I ever get back to LA again I am going to see it in a whole new light thanks to you.

Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 11:00:00 PM PDT 

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