Musso & Frank Grill celebrating 100 years in Hollywood
Musso & Frank Grill is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, debuting on Hollywood Boulevard on September 27, 1919. Which means this year 2019 marks their big Centennial celebration! This now landmark restaurant was opened by two gentlemen Joseph Musso and Frank Toulet (the restaurant namesakes) and quickly became a favorite of Hollywood’s most famous movie stars, writers and other entertainment professionals. Musso & Frank Grill was sold in 1927 to John Mosso (interesting that his name is very similar to Musso) and his partner, Joseph Carissimi. Third and fourth generations of those families still own and operate the restaurant today. What people love most about Musso & Frank Grill is how little it has changed over the years.
I first heard about Musso & Frank Grill from my mother who worked in Hollywood in the 50’s and 60’s. She was the Secretary to the West Coast Vice President of IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Union. Her boss Mr. Flaherty used to take her there for breakfast and she fondly remembers having their flannel cakes and a rasher (side) of bacon. Flannel cakes are a cross between a pancake and a crepe and they are still on the menu, priced at a reasonable $7.00 to $9.00 depending on if you add fruit and yogurt.
When I first moved to Los Angeles in 2001 I remember hearing more about Musso & Frank Grill and thinking it was too “fancy” for me. Then a few years later, I accompanied a group of volunteers there for dinner after a meeting in Hollywood. I remember seeing people dressed up but there were plenty of diners there, like us, who had come after work and many who were even more casual. It was then I realized Musso & Frank Grill was for everyone! But I must admit it wasn’t until I became a Hollywood tour guide that I started dining at Musso & Frank Grill more often. In fact it has now become one of my favorite restaurants to celebrate a special occasion or enjoy a pre-theatre meal.
The earliest menu that I have found shows two pages of cocktails, wine, beer and other drinks and only one page of food items. And it appears that the chicken dishes were more expensive than the steaks! The menu has remained true to classic dishes like steaks and chops, pastas, fish and seafood, as well as breakfast and lighter lunch items. There is a Daily Feature offered every Tuesday through Sunday (Musso & Frank is closed on Mondays), and my personal favorite is the Thursday Homemade Chicken Pot Pie. Now you may think paying $23.00 for chicken pot pie is crazy, but I’m here to tell you not to look at the calories or the price, just enjoy the tradition and the taste. Musso & Frank Grill is also known for their martinis, called out by GQ Magazine as having the best in the entire USA. There have only been three executive chefs in the restaurant’s history with the first Jean Rue creating the menu and perfecting those recipes over the next 53 years.
The Musso & Frank Grill staff are very special, taking their job of providing excellent customer service seriously. That includes warmly welcoming both newcomers and long-standing regulars. They don’t mind sharing stories about their famous customers and the lovely maitre d’ will point from his desk to the favorite tables of certain Hollywood luminaries like Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Steve McQueen. Recently customers were saddened to learn of the passing of Ruben Rueda, the lovable bartender who spent 52 years of his entire working career at Musso & Frank Grill.
The tagline on a menu dating to 1926 calls the restaurant “Some Place to Eat”. I would say that sentiment still holds today. If you have been wanting to try Musso & Frank Grill, this is a great time to do it. I’m looking forward to seeing what the plans are for the actual anniversary in September, to be called a Community Celebration, I’m sure it will be special. And stay tuned for a book release about the restaurant’s history. A quote on their Facebook says “The history will bring you in, the food and service will keep you coming back.”
By Trish Procetto