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Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's (1997)

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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 ... See full summary »

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Title: Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's (1997)

Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's (1997) on IMDb 5.5/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Raymond Bilbool ...
Himself
Ronald Clint ...
Himself
Tommy Gallagher ...
Himself (waiter)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Trisha Absher ...
Herself
...
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Maureen Arthur ...
Herself
...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself (as Chuck Fries)
...
Himself
Neal Gabler ...
Himself
Patrick Gallagher ...
Himself / Waiter
Dale Gross ...
Himself
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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October 1997 (USA)  »

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Fun, nostalgic, and sad look at the old Hollywood
26 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Chasen's restaurant was the place to be when Hollywood was in its golden years, and this documentary covers its last days and says goodbye to an era. Famous for its chili, which Elizabeth Taylor had shipped to Rome during the filming of Cleopatra, their hobo steak, and a special drink called The Flame of Love, Chasen's has a permanent place in Hollywood history. Opened in 1936, it played host to every star in the galaxy. It was the place where the "Shirley Temple" was invented - for Shirley - and where the ladies room attendant inspired Donna Summer to write "She Works Hard for the Money." Unfortunately, times change. Lettuce is in; steak is out. Spago's is in; Chasen's is out. The stars stopped coming, the restaurant lost money, and its new boss, a businessman rather than Dave Chasen and his wife, decided to close.

The people who work at Chasen's, it turns out, are as colorful as some of Hollywood's greats. There's Raymond who scoffs at a negative book written by an ex-employee: "He's doing his own thing now. He has a wife with a mustache (pause pause pause)...well, she does"; Tommy Gallagher, who had his picture taken with everyone from the Rat Pack to the Pope; (he died shortly after the filming); the hat/coat check woman, whom we are told has her secrets. "Didn't you tell me Tyrone Power hit on you?" one of the employees asks her. As they give their interviews, they're all soon to be unemployed, some there over 30 years and more.

This is a well done documentary that leaves one with sadness and the unhappy realization that nothing is forever. Not even Chasen's.


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