Chasen's, Hollywood 1980s
Founded by comedian and actor Dave Chasen in 1936, Chasen’s restaurant was an old-school Hollywood hot spot.
From humble beginnings as a mere six-table barbecue shack, it expanded into an elegant eating place frequented by Hollywood stars, politicians and businesspeople.
Celebrities with their own booths included Frank Sinatra, Alfred Hitchcock and Groucho Marx. President Ronald Reagan’s booth, where he proposed to his wife Nancy in 1952, is now on display at the Reagan Presidential Library.
The wide-ranging menu included beluga caviar, tableside Caesar salads and thick-cut steaks but the restaurant was particularly famous for its chili. Elizabeth Taylor had orders of Chasen’s chili flown to her in Rome in the 1960s while she was filming Cleopatra.
‘Chasen’s nurtured every creative person in the film industry, every political entity and those addressed as Mr President,’ said actress Fay Wray, best remembered for her role in the 1933 film King Kong).
She was speaking in the 1997 documentary Off the Menu; The Last Days at Chasen’s (highly recommended) which described the atmosphere as ’the last vestiges of Hollywood’s Golden Age – where every night was a premiere, and every table was filled with stars.’
Located at 9039 Beverly Boulevard on the border with Beverly Hills, as the decades passed Chasen’s lost some of its allure to newer and more fashionable restaurants. When Chasen’s closed in 1995, many of its fittings – including artwork and some of those famous high-backed leather booths – were sold off to loyal clientele as memorabilia.
There’s now a Bristol Farms supermarket in the iconic spot and you can still go through the grand entrance and spot the plaque dedicated to Chasen’s. You can also sit in some of the restaurant’s booths in the market café.
Courtesy Steve Sann Collection.
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