User ReviewsReview this title
Overall, it's a very solid documentary that packs plenty of entertainment into its short running time.
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.
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.
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.
So this documentary did bring back a feeling to me and a longing for those times, my now deceased parents and a sense of loss of a Hollywood that had some real class.