The Marquis Restaurant

 Once Located on Sunset Strip

Photo: George Mann, 1964 

You might remember this building located at 8240 Sunset Blvd as as Carlos & Charlie’s or Dublin's Irish Pub. But it was originally called the Marquis built by Los Angeles architect Robert Lee Byrd (who also designed the Polanski residence on Cielo Drive in 1941).  


The charming bistro was owned by George Dolenz, father of Monkee's singer & drummer, Micky Dolenz. George bought the venue with partner, Tom Seward (who ran the Hollywood Reporter), in 1957 from Paul Verlenga. At the time The Marquis wasn't doing that well, but Dolenz and Seward knew they could quickly turn that around.  And they did. The Marquis soon became a wildly popular nightspot which upset prior owner, Paul Verlenga. So, Verlenga opened the Four Trees Restaurant  just east of The Marquis also designed by Robert Lee Byrd. Some think Verlenga may have done this out of spite. Perhaps he thought customers would get the two mixed up! But it was never as successful as The Marquis. 

Ramond Chandler enthusiasts believe he refers to the dancers in his 1949 novel The Little Sister from a late night he witnessed at The Marquis. Proof of this is buried in a 50 year old publication called LA Style. 



Paul Verlengia's Four Trees Restaurant located at 7800 Sunset Blvd 

Dolenz spent the majority of his time there as the restaurant's "singing host”. He had previously been under contact with Howard Hughes for three years at RKO Studios. When acting gigs became more scarce, he purchased the place so he could guarantee where his next meal was coming from. Dolenz knew a thing or two about the restaurant business having been the former manager of the Trocadero, and a former waiter at Ciro's. Both also located on the strip just west of The Marquis.  In fact it was Ciro's where Howard Hughes discovered Dolenz. 


Billy Wilkerson's Cafe Trocadero night club at 8610 Sunset.


 Rare footage of Sunset Strip during the 1950s. You can see the Marquis on right.


Ciro's on the left. (Now the Comedy Store)

Dolenz, born in Italy, went to great lengths to make sure they had the best spaghetti in town. As the jet age was taking off, he knew tourists would be able to to tell the difference between great food and poor quality. "People want quality, and they also want a favorite dish they recently discovered in London, Rome or Paris. This little restaurant can provide that", said Dolenz in 1960. Chef Pietro whipped out platters of his famous Zucchini Florentine, "better then Alfredo's in Rome", said Louella Parsons.


Unfortunately and tragically, George died of a sudden heart attack in 1963 while doing repairs on the roof and sadly, never got the opportunity to see his place flourish or see his son become a sensation with the Monkee's. George Dolenz was only 55. 


Micky Dolenz actually took over the lease of The Marquis and was landlord to this property for several incarnations. 

You can catch George Dolenz in tiny roles such as, "Vendetta" released in 1960 and "The Four Horseman Of the Apocalypse" released in 1962. But he had better luck in television when he was cast as the star of the 1956 series,  "The Count Of Monte Cristo".  He also appeared on "Bonanza". 

The Marquis carried on as a dinner / theater until the mid 70s. It changed its name to the New Martoni Marquis and was ran by Mario Martoni of Martoni's fame on Cahuenga Blvd. Images of Martoni's Marquis are sparse, but it was captured in an episode of The “Rockford Files” called 'Joey Blue Eyes'. 


During the 1970s and 1980s, it became the wildly popular Carlos' n Charlie's: A restaurant-discotheque. The former Marquis, was also a popular stomping ground, but in slower, pre-freeway days. When Carlos' n Charlie's took it over, the location was skillfully lightened and brightened. Its nightly crowd was so jammed and packed in so tight that drinks had to be passed over heads. 


They hired a young and good looking staff to give off the illusion of an all night party. The food was semiserious, on the menu was moo, oink, splash, crunch, slurp, munch and zurtz. Carlos' n Charlie's also had the best tuna dip salsa and a legendary fortune teller.  Entertainment was provided nightly by the "tortilla lady" who made them from scratch. Waiters serenaded customers noisily and purposefully. 



The club on the top floor was called El Privado - nick named "El Perverto". 
On occasion Joan Rivers and Ben Vareen would perform in the restaurant and Timothy Leary gave lectures as "Dr. Hip". According to prince.com, record companies and/or artists would often bring new releases to the DJ booth asking to play their records. In 1979 a young man dressed in blue jeans, button shirt and a cowboy hat came up to the window and introduced himself. It was Prince. He asked them to play, “I Wanna Be Your Lover”, which hadn't been released yet. And Mrs. Moody's drama classes mounted a full scale musical every year.

Back in the old days when Sunset Strip was teeming with traffic in 1985. The Source restaurant was still there across the Blvd. 


The long-gone building just to the east is what was called the Sunset Strip Apartments -- seen in a few films -- funky forties / fifties living. The billboard back there is for Richard Chamberlain's "King Solomon's Mines." The old building with the Fred Sands sign is here being overhauled; currently it's where the durable Sunset Trocadero club resides. The Body Shop (still there) and Carlos 'n' Charlie's (long gone). 
   Photo: Nick Faitos

Sunset Strip in 1978 Looking east near Sweetzer Ave. The Golden Crest Retirement Hotel is now the closed Standard Hotel. Carlos 'n' Charlie's, is in the distance at the corner of Harper Ave. Photo: Nick Faitos


The Sunset Strip as it looked in 1982. Photo taken on the front patio at Carney's Tain. "A trip to Carney's kicked off spring break. The Stigwood building, Carlos 'n' Charlie's, the Golden Crest, and The Source, Oh My! (No chili on my hot dog was harmed in the shooting of this photo",  says Nick Faitos. (I am eternally grateful for all his personal photo archives).

When Martoni's West closed their chef Pietro opened his own restaurant called Marquis West in Santa Monica. Micky’s father picked the right guy, Pietro was a fabulous chef…I still remember his delicious white fish. Today it's Busby's. 


In the the old Marquis transformed to an english style pub called Dublin's Irish Pub. It was known for it's amateur comedy nights. The music that piped through the sound system was a cross between classic rock and mid-'80s pop hits. Dublin's also got The Roxbury crowd from across the street (which also has colossal Sunset Strip history. It had originally been the Players Club owned by Preston Sturges. Today it is Pink Taco). 


Photo: Robert Stone 

Sadly, this gorgeous old world brick building was demolished in the early 2000's and replaced with a newer structure that looks like a bunch of tipsy white sails unfurling around popsicle sticks. The new structure was called "Sunset Beach". It's still there and is currently an add agency. 


Today it's currently an advertising agency.


Alison Martino is a writer, television producer, and pop culture historian. She founded the Facebook page 
Vintage Los Angeles in 2010. Alison muses on L.A’s. past and present on Twitter and Instagram

Comments

  1. LOVE this article. Thank you Allison. I met a bartender at the place and he told me to attend an acting class—that he was a member of. I remember sitting at the bar. The bartender was named. Darn can't remember. John.......

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  2. LOVE this article. Thank you Allison. I met a bartender at the place and he told me to attend an acting class—that he was a member of. I remember sitting at the bar. The bartender was named. Darn can't remember. John....... John Coleman. Wow 1982...


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  3. I remember and love all the places and most of their incarnations? Alison. Thanks for the memories. My husband , The Real Don Steele, had many tales to tell of those wild snd wonderful days in the 1950s and 1960s.

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  4. Thank you for these articles, I really enjoy them.

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  5. One thing of note is that when it changed to Carlos'n Charlie's it was financed by a group of rock and roll people including Shep Gordon and Alice Cooper. They helped make it a draw.

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