Chuck’s Steak House


There used to be a number of Chuck’s Steak Houses in Los Angeles and I miss ’em. There are still Chuck’s around — the nearest one seems to be in Santa Barbara — but they do not seem to be a chain, exactly. They seem to be independently-owned places opened with the blessing (and perhaps, financial participation) of this guy Chuck.

Chuck was Chuck Rolles, a former All-American basketball player who opened his first restaurant in Hawaii in 1959. The concept was pretty simple. You could get a good steak, a baked potato or rice and a trip to the salad bar for a reasonable price, and you didn’t have to get all dressed up. One of the features of a Chuck’s Steak House has always been the casual, friendly atmosphere. Another was the self-serve salad bar, which at the time was a relatively new idea. Yet another is or was the simple menu, which at times has fit on the side of a little cask on your table.


Chuck’s expanded in many directions with various partnerships and my main recollections are of one in Valley at (I think) Sepulveda and Ventura, and another on Third Street near La Cienega, near where I was then living. It was near a studio called the Record Plant where many rock musicians of the seventies recorded very famous albums. I don’t think I ever went to that Chuck’s without seeing someone who was super-famous in the music industry…and if you didn’t recognize them, an obliging waiter would whisper to you something like, “See that guy over by the bar? That’s Phil Spector.”

The Record Plant burned down one night and I have a feeling that contributed to Chuck’s exit from that area. But maybe the Chuck’s people just decided to give up on Los Angeles because that’s what they did. I liked the food there tremendously, especially the rice that came with your steak. You could substitute a baked potato for a few bucks more but the rice was so good, most people learned not to. Folks I dined with were always trying to figure out what they did to the rice to make it so good but the servers would just tell you, “It’s a secret.” A woman I dined with there once claimed the rice had been cooked, then stir-fried in sesame oil. I have no idea if that’s so.

Chuck’s spawned numerous imitators in the seventies. I went to at least three steak places that tried to replicate Chuck’s down to the nth degree…and they usually managed to get everything right except for that rice. None of them caught on. Only Chuck’s was Chuck’s and I wish we still had one in town.

58 Responses to Chuck’s Steak House

  • Jerry G says:

    Chucks was a favorite restaurant when I was in my late 20s. I usually went to the one on Third Street in Los Angeles with friends. The Westwood location was a great dinner place for my wife and I. It was sad to see them disappear.

    I had a group of guy friends who would meet once a month for many drinks and a good dinner. We rotated restaurants, so we hadn’t been to Chucks for a few months when we decided to return. I remember driving to the Third Street location by memory, but the restaurant was gone. So I thought I was confused and drove to Beverly Blvd but no. When I returned to the Third Street location my buddies were standing in front of a vacant lot, arms crossed and disappointed. I don’t remember when the Westwood location disappeared; but a few years ago, we drove to Santa Barbara where I had the Teriyaki steak, rice pilaf and salad bar for my birthday.

  • Merrilee says:

    My brother “Smitty” worked as manager for many of the Chucks steak house locations. I painted hundreds of the lancer bottles for many many years. I also ended up working at the Sherman Oaks location as a hostess. The benefit of eating a meal was worth whatever salary I got. They were ahead of times with a simple format, delicious simple meals!! Classic!!!

  • Roger Johnson says:

    Grateful to stumble on this site, as I worked 1975 – 1980 at the Sherman Oaks location, for George Alderman. A great, and demanding man – provided us college-aged young men & women with a super environment, team pooling of tips, making bank…in the Union Bank basement. Feeding the local stars and special clientele. Too many special people to thank for a great time and experience.

  • Denis Marin says:

    I lived in Hawaii during the 70’s. My wife and I loved Chuck’s Waikiki! It was up in a Banyan tree and you had to climb stairs to get up there. We were there probably once or twice a month for five years or so! The place was delightful, and the food was delicious! I always had a top sirloin steak after a trip to the salad bar! I’ve tried in vain to find a steak that good since returning to the mainland. Maybe it was New Zealand beef (common in Hawaii in those days). And yes, the rice was flavored with sesame oil. Thanks for the precious memories of Chuck’s Steak House!!

  • Bruce says:

    ah yes, I went to one in Ft. Lauderdale almost 20 yrs. ago and they had a 40 oz. porterhouse! I used to eat at the one in the basement on Ventura and Sepulveda on a regular basis.

  • Joni says:

    I worked at chucks in Tustin early 80’s and loved the rice and cheesecake!! . Does anyone have the recipe for the delicious rice I think teriyaki

  • Tim says:

    My uncle was partners with Chuck and I believe owned the one in Coco Marina Hawaii kai.

  • Frank Steinberg says:

    Does anyone have any information on Farrell’s Coffee shop on Westwood Blvd, near UCLA?
    I used to eat there several times a week in the 60’s

  • Frank Steinberg says:

    I used to go to the Scotch n’ Sirloin in the 60’s when I was a student at UCLA.
    Probably my favorite place. I seem to remember that you could get a steak and lobster, along with a salad bar for about $8.
    Great memories.

    I was also a fan of Chuck’s in the Marina

  • Richard Masi says:

    Great place..3rd Street.
    I worked there 10 years. “BK” Gerry O’Neill, me. Worked with the greats!
    Bear,Widmer,The Hogan’s, Danny Laxague, The Hawk, The Flame, Mike Kennedy. The Stiltz Bros, Jake.
    There will never be “those day” again.
    Best time of my life.

  • John Engstrom says:

    I used to go to the Chuck’s in Westwood on dates in the mid-70’s. I noticed I never got carded if I ordered a decent bottle of wine with dinner, a good thing when you’re 19 or 20. Later, I would take dates to Moonshadows, where they had a drink called a ‘Moonglow’, which IIRC was basically a Pina Colada with a little blue Curacao, giving it a pale blue tint.

  • Thomas Allen says:

    My wife and I were regulars at the Chucks in Sherman Oaks. It was below ground under a bank I believe. The waiters knew us and we almost never had to place an order. They would see us come in and “BOOM”, our order was in.
    Funny thing, our least favorite Chucks (it was actually called Chucks Steakhouse of Hawaii) was the one in Hawaii!

  • Desmone says:

    As a kid the big night out was Chucks in Escondido. That was in the 60-70’s. The black light in the bathroom was really cool. Teriyaki Steak was my favorite. At one point Chucks moved from one location on Grand Avenue into the old Escondido Mall.

  • John Schwab says:

    I worked at Chuck’s for many years to pay for flying lessons.
    It paid off since I became a captain for TWA.
    The stories about Chuck’s could go on for hours. Many movie stars and very interesting
    employees worked for Dave Alderman. We were mostly collage students or graduated waiting to enter the real world.
    I would like to contact Rich DaMico, Vaughn DeKirby or Gary Argenbreight.
    I see Dave once in a while and he is not doing well.
    Please email if you have any information.
    Thank you,
    John Schwab

  • Jo says:

    I worked at the chuck steakhouse in Tustin in the early 80’s . I was 17 yrs old loved the rice & cheesecake!!! Use to live on it. I want that rice recipe!!

  • John McCord says:

    First job, 2.00 an hour MDR. Once in a while Chuck would come in and grab a case of lobster! WOW! While replacing the redwood t&g on the stairs at the Westwood store, nearly sliced off my privates with the skill saw….still have the scar! Cooked dinner for John Lennon and his girlfriend after Yoko kicked him out. Stevie Wonder would come for dinner Wednesday nite from the Record Plant next door while creating “Songs in the Key of Life”. Herb Albert would hang out at the grill and we’d talk about steaks, me, 17 and him, a legend…later Moonshadows and Nantucket Light. Flip Wilson hanging out at my oyster bar….thank you Chuck and Dave….the stories we can tell! btw, the menu was written on a Lancers Rose bottle!

  • John Mc Cord says:

    Worked at Chucks. First job, 2.00 an hour as a dishwasher. First celebrity I waited on was Chuck Berry. All my grammar school pals worked with me. In Westwood, I did the redwood paneling leading downstairs from Westwood Blvd. at Third Street ( next door to Record Plant) cooked dinner several evenings for Steve Wonder while he was recording “Songs in the Key of Life”. Cooked dinner for John Lennon and his girlfriend when Yoko kicked him out. Herb Albert used to hang out and at the grill and talk steaks with me back when I was 17. Chuck Rolles and Dave Alderman….thank you. Later at Moonshadows and Nantucket Light…Flip Wilson at my oyster bar! the stories we can tell!

  • John Mc Cord says:

    Worked at Chucks. First job, 2.00 an hour as a dishwasher. First celebrity I waited on was Chuck Berry. All my grammar school pals worked with me. In Westwood, I did the redwood paneling leading downstairs from Westwood Blvd. at Third Street ( next door to Record Plant) cooked dinner several evenings while he was recording “Songs in the Key of Life”. Cooked dinner for John Lennon and his girlfriend when Yoko kicked him out. Herb Albert used to hang out and at the grill and talk steaks with me back when I was 17. Chuck Rolles and Dave Alderman….thank you. Later at Moonshadows and Nantucket Light…the stories we can tell!

  • Mike Mahoney says:

    Chuck’s also had a location in Tustin on Red Hill Ave. This is in the 70’s, we all thought it was better than the one in Newport Beach as it felt more Hawaiian.
    They had a real good baseball cut sirloin that was probably 3 plus inches high.
    Oh well no we just pay lots more at other places without the atmosphere.

  • Patrice says:

    Steph, I , too went to the Chuck’s in MdR. I was young enough that I had to go with my parents, so had to be early mid-70s at the latest. It was also a Kelly’s Steak House. Was that before or after Chuck’s? The only thing I remember from the menu is Chateaubriand for 2. My parents never ordered that. LOL.

  • Seamus O'connell says:

    Having worked at many Chuck’s on the east coast/ Florida; sorry to say they have closed down many of their restsaurants over the years. The story I get is a dead concept in a very cut-throat business. Too bad, since none of the loyal “chuckers” did anything wrong…..Except work hard!! By the way, Chuck Rolled himself is probably pushing +80yrs old! Nothing lasts forever, last of the chuckers; Tyrone of Darien,CT!!

  • Al Donnelly says:

    Did Chuck’s in Hawaii have a plankboard with the menu burned into it? If you say yes, I’m gonna chuck. I tossed it!

  • Mercy Baron says:

    I remember going to the one in Hollywood as a little kid with my parents. I loved Lobster and still do. Then, in ’94, my ex husband and I went to one on Kaui in Hawaii. I remember it as being just as good and I bought their pint glass which I still have.

  • Sammi Long says:

    I have been going to Chuck’s in Santa Barbara (State Street) since I was a freshman at UCSB in 1972. I am now 62 and still go there every year! Everything is the same…the framed Hawaiian shirt on the wall, the mai tais, the bar, the salad bar, the funny oldies sound track, and the food. My husband proposed to me there! My favorite menu item is Steve’s Quick Fix…a top sirloin steak served on toasted sourdough garlic bread with bleu cheese and teriyaki sauce. You can have a baked potato or the teriyaki rice with it. We’re light eaters, so my husband gets the salad bar as an add on (the waiters are nice about that), so the whole dinner is about 22 bucks!

  • Steph says:

    I remember the Chuck’s Steak House in the Marina del Rey around the mid 1970’s. It’s funny, but that picture of the menu bottle really took me back. I had completely forgotten about the menu. I was wondering when it closed. The Cheesecake Factory took that same location. Does anyone know what year that was?

  • Walter Brem says:

    I remember Chuck’s very well in Santa Barbara, the one on upper State St. In fact, my ex-wife and I pre-opened it in 1967, as she worked in the old Uuited California Bank, in the same building. Larry and Dawn, who had started out in Hawaii owned it. and invited the bank staff over for appetizers, etc. As graduate students at UCSB, we could afford it, and many, many of us went regularly. I must have gone almost weekly, as I waited for my wife to get off work and join me for a drink that became dinner, etc. The Teriyaki steak was great, etc. Whenever I am in Santa Barbara, I always make a pilgrimage to it for a steak dinner. Wonderful memories!!

  • Chuck O'Leary says:

    I worked for Chuck’s for a about a year and half, first as a bar boy and then bartender…also worked back up in every position, but bartender tips were the best…it was in Malibu right on the ocean, and was dubbed “Moonshadows”, although it was a Chuck’s in every way (Chuck also had another place in Malibu proper called the Nantucket Lighthouse). So the famous rice? We cooked the rice in leftover Teriyaki sauce (not added later), and also threw in the left over chives and bacon bits from the salad bar as it steamed, along with a bit of butter…I still make it at home today.
    Like at other Chuck’s, most of us were college students and it was great fun at the time….I remember when we would have a particularly good night tip wise, and after closing head a couple of miles south to a dive called The Raft…the bartender would graciously re-open the bar for us after closing, knowing nobody tips better than waiters and waitresses, and he was well rewarded. I doubt the owner ever saw a nickel of the “after hours” revenue, and we all suspected our kindly bartender must have short poured a lot of his subsequent customers to cover his bottle count! Moonshadows was still there a few years ago, but it was very sad….all the beautiful woodwork was painted over in grey; the salad bar was gone; the menu a shadow of it’s former self (bad pun); and the distinct odor of spoiled cooking oil….still a spectacular view though.

  • Sean Bagley says:

    If any of you folks are ever in Connecticut & craving Chuck’s, there has been one in Danbury (about an hour north of NYC) since the late 60’s or very early 70’s. Original location, original menu– still as popular today as ever. I don’t know if there were any others this far East, but it’s there if you want to stop by. I know of regulars who have eaten there several times a week for decades.

  • sue says:

    There is a Chuck’s in Santa Barbara, not sure if it’s part of the original chain but they both are very similar.

  • Smythe says:

    I paid for part of graduate school working as a cocktail waitress at Chuck’s in Sherman Oaks. All the servers were college kids and I was a great gang. We would pool our tips and I think I made $12 an hour which was a fortune at the time. The owner was a very demanding George A. (focused on providing the best quality service) and he was a partner of Chuck’s. Great food, nice colleagues and a terrific experience, particularly in the customer service department.

  • Bob says:

    Oten took my family to Chuck’s on Sepulvida. We all miss the place and the good old days.

  • Yes says:

    What happened to Love’s Rib place?

  • Fred Ruf says:

    Having been to the original Chucks in Hawaii several times I always really liked the place for just what it was. Moderately priced steaks and seafood and a simple salad bar. I lived in Newport Beach for years and although my hangout was The Ancient Mariner, I often would cross coast highway eat at Chucks, dark and kind of dingy it just brought back all those memories. Speaking of which, the Chucks at the Santa Barbara pier is a revisionist tourist joint( no salad bar) and a must to avoid. BUT, the Chucks on State Street, a couple miles inland, is the real deal. If you are ever in Santa Barbara, go. I’ve been there a dozen times in the last few years and it’s always what you expect.
    Those teriyaki steaks and yes the old Lancers wine bottles as menus. As I said, the real deal.

  • Dale A Albrecht says:

    You used to be able to get served dockside on your boat at Marina Del Rey. That sure would impress your date. Great times there in the late 60’s and early 70’s

  • Ron says:

    I remember one night at the third street venue. My favorite waiter a well healed apartment houses owner who like to be a waiter for fun and enjoyment chased a party of six out on the parking lot on the heels of a stiff (non tip) to bust these jerks for their actions! Later Roger the owner of many units went on to wait tables at The West Hollywood Palm.

    Recently we bumped into each other at lunch at the new Ocean Prime (not my favorite) he was dining not serving! Lol

  • Adam says:

    I wonder if the waiter telling you that Phil Spector was there was trying to warn you…

  • David Thompson says:

    And guess what . . . there still is a Chuck’s Steak House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Their website:

  • Jeff says:

    I was a waiter for four years at the Chucks’s in Sacramento, and still miss the place – the one here closed in the early 1990s.

    As for the rice – at least at our location, the rice was steamed and then stirred with the same teriyaki sauce that was used to marinate the steaks.

  • Dave says:

    In the late 60’s I had been to several Chucks and Chuck’s Cellar in Hawaii playing Volleyball over there. I later worked for some friends in Tahoe that had worked for Chuck and Nick (Fishmarket) in the Islands in the 60’s. They took his blessing and ideas and opened the Bella Union, a block south of Harrahs at Stateline in Tahoe. Not sure if they made much money, but we sure had a good time- Had some great Volleyball and Golf Tournaments.

  • Eric Helms says:

    Wow, this brought back memories. I was stationed in Hawaii (Pearl Harbor sub base) in the 70’s and 80’s. Lived in Mililani on Oahu. There was a Chucks Steak House there in town, probably ate there at least once a month with my family. Late in 85, they closed and reopened twice, finally closing in December of 85.

    I left the Navy in 87, went to work for TRW. Frequent trips to the cape in Florida, driving one of the byways just south of Vero Beach, I discover a second Chuck’s, it too was closed up.

  • Steve Shaw says:

    The Marina Del Rey location was my family’s favorite! As a kid in the late 60’s we would get dressed up and my mom would always ask for a booth by the water. I have great memories of walking along the marina after dinner and looking at boats. Sometimes a gate would be left open, and we could walk right up next to the boats! Really miss Chuck’s Steak House; Great food, and great location!

  • Jonathan says:

    The best place to take your date to impress her back then. Sepulveda and Ventura. Down those stairs off the north side street. Don’t remember. What a place. Always thought the original was in Hawaii. Went there as a child in ’64.

  • Mike says:

    My parnts took me to the one in the Marina for my birthday in 1981. I remember it was really good! Great memories!

  • Kevin says:

    The westwood location became Baxter’s in the mid 80’s, and was an international happening during the 84 games

  • Kevin says:

    My brothers were waiters at the 3rd street location for many years, so always enjoyed when I got to go to Chuck’s where my older brothers and even a sister in law worked. My Brother Terry also worked at the Marina Chuck’s where back in the 90’s became a Cheesecake Factory . The Marina Chucks overlooked a lagoon and my brother used to tell a story where one of the waiters found the keys in the booth for a jerk who had left a penny tip, after a short walk to the patio, the waiter heaved the keys into the lagoon. Later the jerk was in the bar lamenting how much the locksmith was going to charge him, when the bartender suggested, it might have been cheaper if you had left a tip!!!

  • Jon Williams says:

    Yeah, the Westwood one, which was in a basement was cool. At least I thought so when I was 11 and my Dad would take me there most Friday nights. Teriyaki steaks were the way to go.

    Menu’s were littered on painted Lancer’s bottles.

  • Phil says:

    Started to go to Chuck’s in Westwood after the Scotch n’ Sirloin on the corner of Pico and Supulveda closed.

  • Chris Ames says:

    Great teryaki steaks.

  • Amelia Sue Marshall says:

    Didn’t they also have a location in Marina Del Rey? I saw Bud Shank in the lobby.

  • Bonnie says:

    There was also a Chuck’s Steak House in Westwood, which became a favorite for after work drinks. It had a wonderful polished wood bar, where everyone was warm and friendly, like the place itself. It seemed to be the hangout for the young professional men and women of the day, who worked in neighboring offices in Westwood or Beverly Hills. This would have been in the 70’s.

    One of my friends met her husband at that bar, and 35 years later they are still married!

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