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

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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Credited cast:
Raymond Bilbool ... Himself
Ronald Clint ... Himself
Tommy Gallagher ... Himself (waiter)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Trisha Absher ... Herself
... Himself
... Herself
... Himself
... Himself
... Himself
... Himself
Steven Dones ... Himself
... Himself (as Chuck Fries)
... Himself
... Himself
Patrick Gallagher ... Himself / Waiter


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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From the Inside
22 October 2006 | by See all my reviews

Know that, as of yet, I have not seen this documentary. So why might I be arrogant enough to comment? My father, Jack Loveland, was General Manager of Chasen's 1949-1966. He passed in 1967. I grew up in the bowels of Chasen's; knowing Dave Chasen (and to a very limited extent, a few contacts with Maude Chasen) and brother Phil. I knew more about the wine cellars, the pantry (and pantry chef Joe), the freezers, meat preparation areas, and unseen corridors than just about anyone. As a wee boy I rolled butter into balls to placed into iced silver bowls, vacuumed the dining room floors, took inventory in the deep freeze. I knew where they kept the massive barrels of MSG and spent hundreds of hours doing child-drawings on the backs of unused menus (brought home by my dad). I heard stories of how Peter Lorre spent massive amounts of time in those wine cellars with my dad pouring his movie salaries down his throat in the form of rare bottles and vintages. Bob Hope gave me a toy wind-up tank when I was five or so. Every once in a while we would get a case of chili or a cake or a Per Al's cheesecake as gifts. Oh, yeah - I never ate in the dining room. Ever.

So just finding out about this DVD from Wikipedia and our noble host, IMDb, I look forward to viewing this video with a very prejudiced eye. From the comments, should hope for an accurate presentation of the hard-working staff. I note Tommy Gallagher is cited, and I remember him well. With any restaurant, presentation - by waiters and bartenders and maitre-d's - as well as the celebrity owners and customers is they typical fodder for the most amicable of filmmakers. Here, as with others, however, they had best beware. Some of us know far more than you do, and it had better be a fair and balanced presentation! Yea, I have a voice on the web (albeit minor) and a history of reviewing film. One so close to my heart and dear to my memory will indeed undergo the harshest of scrutiny, and this small piece will indeed lead to a review of microscopic detail. (One day, soon, to show up under IMDb's Miscellaneous links.) Should anyone care to send me a review copy, I'd be delighted. As is, I am grateful for a tribute of any sort to a Hollywood / Beverly Hills landmark, an important meeting place and watering hole for many celebrities; provided by a group of very fine people who worked hard for a living.

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