Saturday Sep 28, 2019
Legendary Hollywood eatery Musso & Frank Grill prides itself on treating regulars like celebrities and celebrities like regulars — but made an exception when Quentin Tarantino came asking for a favour.
The Once Upon a Time in Hollywood director wanted the restaurant sealed off for five days to shoot his homage to Tinseltown, which begins with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Al Pacino discussing movie deals over whiskey sours and Bloody Marys at its iconic bar.
"We've never shut the restaurant down for any kind of movie. But when Quentin came to us and described what his vision was, it was definitely something we wanted to be part of," said Mark Echeverria, owner of the restaurant which marked its 100th anniversary Friday.
"We love Quentin to death. He's been coming in a long, long time," he told AFP.
The film was released last month to widespread acclaim and Oscar buzz, with Musso & Frank prominent among the Hollywood landmarks showcased in its pastiche celebration of the 1960s.
But Tarantino is far from the first megastar to make himself at home in the old-fashioned Hollywood Boulevard institution, known for its discreet red leather booths and dark-panelled wooden walls.
Tales are legion of the restaurant's star-studded past, from Charlie Chaplin riding there on his horse to Buster Keaton shooting Cops on the roof in 1922.
Since Hollywood's golden age, it has continued to draw stars from Humphrey Bogart and Rita Hayworth to Marilyn Monroe and Steve McQueen.
Authors such as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and F Scott Fitzgerald have all worked the restaurant — and its martinis — into their novels.
Echeverria refuses to be drawn on his favourite celebrity encounters.
According to actor Danny Trejo, speaking at Friday's ceremony, Musso & Frank differs from more glamorous rival Hollywood institutions because it is not a place where stars "come to be seen."
But head chef JP Amateau admits there was an occasion on which he was starstruck.
"I'd say one time, Margaret Thatcher — she ordered lamb chops!" he told AFP. "She came to me and she wanted to know what chop it was, and where the lamb was from."
Musso & Frank was honoured with its own star next to Hollywood's Walk of Fame at Friday's ceremony, a first for a restaurant — the accolade is usually reserved for actors and other entertainers.
Since the release of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, staff say interest in the restaurant's movie folklore has picked up — as have certain drinks orders.
"We saw a spike in whiskey sours and Bloody Marys, that's for sure!" said Echeverria.