Chasen’s

The legendary dining place of the stars was over at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Doheny in a building that is now a Bristol Farms market.  Perhaps, once upon a time, the food was the star attraction but by the time I began going there from time to time in the eighties, the star attraction was the star attraction…being able to say, “Gregory Peck was dining right across the room.”  My own most memorable experience there (recounted here) was a meal with Jimmy Stewart.  I also lunched there the last day it was open and Nancy Reagan was in the next booth.

For this, one paid about twice the price of similar food almost anywhere else.  I never found the meals worth the price and the service, if you weren’t a regular or famous, could be downright curt.  I observed the striking contrast when I dined there with Mr. Stewart as opposed to someone who wasn’t famous.  I didn’t expect to be treated as courteously when not with Mr. Stewart as with, but the difference was greater than it had to be.  The Stewart-less time, we were seated at a table the size of a Cheerios box and the waiter had the attitude of, “Why do I have to wait on you?” with the “you” dripping in dismissal.  It must not have been typical of the hospitality there or the place would have closed long before it did.

When it did finally shut down, there were many “end of an era” articles and tributes, all recounting the glory days when you might see Bogart pop in for a bowl of chili.  No doubt the fact that it ceased to be “The Place Where the Stars Eat” contributed to its demise but I also think the price/value ratio and catering to the famous had an awful lot to do with it.  If you wanted to overpay for London Broil, there were better places to do that. Especially if they didn’t know who you were.

56 Responses to Chasen’s

  • Judy Scheer says:

    Paul – Thank you. What great stories about Booth #22. Really appreciate your sharing. There is a play opening at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood, “In a Booth at Chasen’s” about Ron and Nancy Reagan’s courtship — and that might interest you and others on this feed. Best to you – Judy

  • Paul Esbrandt says:

    Judy, here is some more history of that table:
    Boothe #22, I can’t speak of all the celebs that sat at that table, but I have some interesting experiences that I had with some notable people. I do know Burt Lancaster used to sit at that table.
    I remember Van Johnson use to like to sit at Boothe #22 as well, and he would complain to me that is Agent or Manager was sitting with him would only allow him to eat broiled fish. He liked me, and he used to call me, “Baltimore”. I don’t think he remembered my name, but he could remember where I was from. He used to sit facing the door on the left side of the booth.
    I remember the first time I saw Natalie Wood’s daughters they were sitting in Boothe #22 with their dad Robert Wagner. Then one other time I recall Anthony Quinn sitting on the right side of the booth with two women who I didn’t know, and his son sitting across from him on the left side. Francesco Quinn who had just done a movie called, “Platoon”. I approached him and told him that I was a Vietnam Veteran and that was quite a performance he had done. And, I meant it. That did end up being his break-out performance, I didn’t say anything to his dad, I figured he was bothered enough, but, I always loved his performances as well. As I was walking away, I overheard his dad ask his son what I had said to him. Later on, I read on the IMDB that Francesco felt always in the shadow of his father, so I was glad that I had approached him, and especially in front of his dad. Francesco Quinn died in 2011 at the tender age of 48. RIP Some of my experiences with Boothe #22. http://esbrandt.com/chasens-restaurant.html

  • Judy Scheer says:

    And I own the original “Burt Lancaster” Booth #22 bought at the Chasen’s auction held on October 17, 1999 from auctioneer A.Z. Stein and Company, complete with an original, framed menu and all authenticating documentation. Please contact me if interested in purchasing.

  • Sir William Harper. says:

    My Grandmother was dining there one evening with her American cousin sometime in the early 1950s when she noticed directly opposite them on another table were a couple causing quite a stir and being photographed. My Grandmother asked the waiter who the couple were and he replied they were the latest celebrity couple being Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio.

  • Bobby Thompson says:

    I don’t recall the year , my sister & brother-In-Law took my mother and myself to Chason’s,it was probably my 3rd or 4th time there.Ronald Reagen was there with about 8 people(no Nancy),he was at the table across from us,I couldn’t believe it!I was so star struck,I didn’ have the nerve to ask him for his autograph even when he walked around the place with a pad and pen!I had a blast that night anyway.

  • Scott Yonover says:

    In march, 2018, marjorie says:
    January 15, 2018 at 11:33 am
    If anyone is interested- I own the “Frank Sinatra booth” , the bar , martini glasses, and the he front awning shown in the photo above. bought it and other items at auction when it closed. I am willing to sell at the right price. all authenticated, and note from Nancy Sinatra congragulating us on purchase.

    I would like to purchase it, but her email is not on it? Can you help?1

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