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In 1995, Chasen's closed its doors after 60 years of serving chili to movie stars and visiting dignitaries, Presidents and the Pope. During its two final weeks, Chasen regulars (actors and producers), staff, and management sat for interviews. There's an Oscar party for 1500, footage and photos of famous diners, and time with Tommy Gallagher, the ebullient head waiter until retirement in 1994, his son Patrick, catering head Raymond Bilbool, general manager Ronnie Clint, hat check girl Val Schwab, ladies' room attendant Onetta Johnson, and foreign- born waiters, including Jaime. When he started in 1970, like other Latins, he wasn't allowed out of the kitchen. It's a family farewell.Written by
I recall as a kid, watching "I Love Lucy" reruns, that Chasen's and The Brown Derby were THE celeb-spotting places to eat. But, if that's all they offer, they'll be dead as soon as the celebs move on to the next New Kid In Town, like The Ivy. They will never forget you 'til somebody new comes along.
Watching "Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's", I saw golden age celebs by the dozens, who hadn't dined there in decades, acting like they were visiting beloved family. The staffers seem to be staring and saying internally "Where ya been all these years? We wouldn't have to close if you'd eaten here once in awhile!".
But, whose fault is that? The restaurant business is very demanding and fickle. If you don't keep pace with what the dining public wants --- not just wax-works celebs to ogle --- you go out of business.
Having been in such a position, I felt deeply for the many loyal employees to knew their best employment days were about to end forever.
However.... I'm really glad I'll never again have to listen to loudmouth celeb-worshipper Tommy Gallagher, who just had to be in EVERY celeb photo snapped there; and I'm glad I never had to work for mincing, caustic bully/queen Raymond Bilboon, who seriously needs a good b-slapping in the ladies' room. I'm glad I never got stuck sitting next to them on a plane. Maybe those two are why the celebs no longer went there.
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