The Bistro in Beverly Hills
The Bistro catered for decades to high-powered crowd thick with denizens of the film industry and high society. The Bistro was a favorite of Billy Wilder and Elizabeth Taylor and was remembered for having a lot of CLASS. It closed it's doors when Woflgang Puck bought the property for Spago's new location on Canon in Beverly Hills.
This is my stylish grandmother in her GO GO boots and mod dress and my gorgeous mother on the right at my baby shower in December of 1970. So in many ways, I was there too!
Karen Kramer on the left, wife of Stanley Kramer who directed, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is the wonderful lady who threw my mother’ shower. We still all stay in contact and she is as beautiful as ever. On the right is my parent’s family friend and interior decorator, Janet Anderson.
Owner Kurt Niklas, owner and maitre d’ Jimmy Murphy of the Bistro restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif., 1972
The Bistro also makes an appearance in the 1975 film, “Shampoo” in the final climax of the film. Funny enough, my father’s song “Spanish Eyes” can be heard playing in the background by the house band during the party scene.
Above is a matchbook from the 1970’s and ’80’s.
Below is an early matchbook from the 1960’s
Alison Martino is a writer, television producer and personality, and L.A. pop culture historian. She founded the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles in 2010. In addition to CityThink and VLA, Martino muses on L.A’s. past and present on Twitter and Instagram and on her website, alisonmartino.com
Alison is also currently a columnist for Los Angeles Magazine.
I have fond memories of The Bistro in the late 1960s when I was a little girl; my parents took me to this wonderful restaurant many times when I was a young girl (elementary school age). The decor was beautiful, and the food was the best! I saw many celebrities there, including Robert Mitchum, and on another occasion, Susannah York. The Bistro was elegant and glamorous, yet with very comfortable vibes. Good times!ReplyDelete
I wish I could remember it as well as you did!ReplyDelete
I remember The Bistro in the 60's. My Love and I went there as often as once a week for a few years before we were found out. It was a very romantic spot for us and Kurt treated us like royalty.ReplyDelete
I worked at this resturant parking cars. It was an exciting place to see the stars and leaders of the business world. I worked for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Rosiland Russel's Xmas parties. Saw and spoke with Howard Hughes, Liz Taylor, Peter Lawford, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Paul Newman, Tony Curtis, Alfred Hitchcock, Mia Farrow, Lisa Minnelli, Peter, Jane & Henry Fonda, Jack Lemon,ReplyDelete
Howard Hughes? seriously? what year, im curious?Delete
Warren Beatty recreated the interior of the Bistro in the movie "Shampoo" for a victory party for Richard Nixon. It was also the venue for a memorable scene between Beatty and Julie Christie. Fans of the movie will know which one I'm talking about. I was invited to be on the set that day because I had provided some political posters and buttons for the movie.ReplyDelete
The Bistro Garden (at Coldwater) is still a lively, wonderful restaurant and meeting place for celebs, industry moguls, musicians/actors, business and political leaders, and for important family celebrations. Combining a beautifully appointed bar, elegant menu offerings, comfortable seating, and live piano music, the Bistro evokes the sophisticated refined dining of its genteel past.ReplyDelete
I worked at this restaurant in 1981-82 in the Accounts Department. I have a few tales to tell. Looking at this site brought it all back to me. Wonderful. Thank you Alison very much. I will return to post my tales in due course.ReplyDelete
Does anyone have the address The Bistro used to be located at?ReplyDelete
It's where Spago is today.Delete
The Bistro: This is what I wrote to Alison. If anybody knew my Grandpa Frank Gardea... Please contact me. My name is Tracy Dalby. I have never in my life blogged before but I started reminiscing about my grandfather who passed a couple of years ago and ran across a couple of things on the Internet which included information about the bistro in Beverly Hills. I never thought in 1 million years I would see some of the pictures that I saw on your website, especially those of Kurt & Jimmy... You see, my grandpa retired from the bistro in 1986ish after being with The restaurant since opening. He was their VIP/Head waiter, Frank Gardea.ReplyDelete
I appreciated living with my grandfather prior to his death at the age of 93 because of his stories about The Bistro. I would've been starstruck had it been me but he treated everybody like they were just regular folks. He was sent to several celebrity homes back in the day to do private dinner parties for them...always Bolly Wilder.
We have many pieces of memorabilia that was given to my grandfather such as Tracy Spencer's Beer Stein, A menu have a party they did at MGM Studios with so many signatures on it, place cards from many parties too.
I wouldn't know where to start. He knew what celebrities wanted to drink and it was never even a question. I had a person one time that stopped by to see Grandpa before he passed (she was an old time customer) and told me that her & her husband loved going to The Bistro because of their tartar sauce. The funny thing is, I just so happen to have just made some and gave her a taste. Needless to say, I gave her the recipe… One very funny story I'm going to tell for the rest of my life!!!
Grandpa did a lot...he typed up every week with his typewriter the schedule for everybody & was responsible for the tips. He came to The Bistro from leaving Romanoff's in Beverly Hills where he knew the whole family.
Years ago, I thought about printing something, perhaps to the LA Times… Not enough information for a full book but just enough information to where a lot of old-timers would appreciate. Which celebrities were the best tippers, which ones were the worst… And ones to never tip at all!
Two individuals always went to my grandfather who took them in the back in the kitchen, out the kitchen door to the outside so that they could smoke their joints!
Carol Channing always came in & handed my grandpa a paper bag that had her dinner in it because back then she was a vegetarian and only eat certain things so my grandpa would warm her dinner up and serve it on a plate so she could eat what the rest of her guests.
I think I got really carried away with this letter … I guess I just have a lot to say and was really impressed with your website.
I had expressed one time to do my grandpa about writing a little something but article or even something for readers digest... He said that would be great, but don't ever put anything in there that you wouldn't want being out there have your own family. Basically, he was saying that he felt those people were his family.
Have a great day!
PS... I was born in 1970 & I always wanted to know what Kurt looked like! ;)
Do you remember VIP waiter Frank Gardea? Thanks... TracyReplyDelete
My father was Casper and I remember your grandfather well. He was a lovely man. I have many memories and stories from the 60’s till they closed.Delete
Somehow I happily stumbled on your blog--what a treat. Casper, the charming and dapper maitre'd always found me a table even when I wandered in unannounced. He didn't have to be asked to order a chocolate souffle for me which took a 1/2 hour to prepare. The days and nights were all golden, and my fondness for The Bistro is a precious star in my several years living in Beverly Hills.ReplyDelete
My father was Casper! I went there as a child in the 60’s all the way till they closed. It was his joy of his life to work there. J felt as though his customers were his family. ❤️Delete
How wonderful to learn that Casper was your father. There are few people in life who leave such an endearing memory as him. I never felt his charm was forced or worse, required. He was simply a warmhearted welcoming presence at that Beverly Hills institution.Delete
Your father Caspar was a crown jewel at the Bistro--the essence of charm, kindness and impeccable manners. God bless you!Delete
My husband & I ate here every time we stayed in Beverly Hills, which was every other month..this was our favorite "go to" restaurant..the food was always beyond delicious, my favorite item....the chocolate souffle...absolutely the best ever or best anywhere in the world..they would bring me my own silver bowl w/whipped cream in it...I didn't have to ask for it after a time or two..it was a very popular place & yet they always took the time to make you feel welcome & it had a small place feel...this was back in the 80's & I still miss it..I have matchbooks from "The Bistro & the Bistro Garden...& still telling stories to my grandchildren about the incredible chocolate souffle...!! admittedly a chocoholic, so I knew it was a love affair the first time we ate there..!!ReplyDelete
The best chocolate souffle ever! We would call and order it on our way from the Dorothy Chandler or a movie.ReplyDelete
I sang at the piano with Hope Lang actress from The Ghost and Mrs. Muir while waiting for my chocolate suffle to be completed. And always remember to order with your drink 🍸 orderReplyDelete
As pianist at the B G in Studio City, I was especially saddened that in shut down because of the Covid. I accompanied many singers during my evenings there, including even Joe Pesci. I now miss the fun and friends there. However if the need arises for music at private events I’m available.Delete