Musso and Frank Grill opened on Hollywood Boulevard in 1919. It is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood and predates both Grauman’s Egyptian and Chinese Theatres by a handful of years.
Charlie Chaplin always sat at booth 1. Elizabeth Taylor liked table 34. Raymond Burr preferred table 38. Al Pacino likes table 28, which is in a corner so he could see everyone that entered the restaurant.
Other stars that liked to dine at Musso and Frank include Johnny Depp, Buddy Ebsen, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, Orson Welles, Steve McQueen, and many others.
Musso and Frank has also been featured in movies and television including Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Ed Wood, Swingers, Ocean’s Eleven, Mad Men (as a stand-in for Sardi’s in New York), and The Kominsky Method. The first movie appearance for the restaurant was in 1922’s Cops starring Buster Keaton.
Mark Echeverria, Proprietor of Musso and Frank said of Once Upon A Time in Hollywood:
“Quentin Tarantino is a truly visionary artist – not to mention just a great guy and a longtime fan of ours – who wanted Musso’s to not merely be a backdrop for his film, but a character in its own right – one that would perfectly embody the essence of Hollywood back in 1969. We have never closed for five straight days in our 100-year history, but we did that last summer (2018) so he could shoot inside our restaurant. We made that exception because we love him and because we felt comfortable allowing him to do so – it was a pleasure working with him.”
“We’re grateful to Quentin and his cast and his crew, along with Sony Pictures, for showing such a genuine passion and respect for our restaurant and its 100-year history. We’re deeply proud to be associated with Quentin’s newest film, one surely destined to become as timeless as Musso & Frank itself.”
History Of The Restaurant
The restaurant opened in 1919 and was named Frank’s Francois Cafe by its owners, Joseph Musso and Frank Toulet. In 1923 they changed the name to Musso and Frank Grill.
In 1927 they sold the restaurant to John Moss and Joseph Carissimi. In 1934 they opened the Back Room, which was on a separate lease from the rest of the establishment.
In the 1930s and 40s, the Back Room was considered to be the epicenter of the Hollywood literary scene. Luminaries such as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and F. Scott Fitzgerald practically lived there. The Screenwriters Guild was also across the street. Prominent actors and actresses also spent considerable time in the Back Room.
Eventually, the lease on the Back Room expired and in 1955 the New Room was created on the Eastern side of the restaurant to replace it. The original bar, light fixtures, and other defining details from the Back Room made their way to the New Room.
Back in the early United Artist days, Chaplin would often come to eat at Musso and Frank for lunch with other male stars including Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino. To get to the restaurant they would ride horses.
Chaplin came up with the idea to have a horserace down Hollywood Boulevard with the loser picking up the tab. They would sit in Booth 1, which was the only one with a window so they could keep an eye on their horses while they ate. Chaplin’s favorite meal was the grilled lamb kidneys, which is still on the menu.
On June 26, 1953, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell had their hand and footprints placed in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in a promotion for Gentleman Prefer Blondes. Afterwards, Monroe went to Musso and Frank with her husband Joe DiMaggio.
“I started going in 1991. I had just arrived in Los Angeles. I’ll never forget ordering my first drink. Vodka martini. Dirty. Three olives. I could only afford one. I remember closing my eyes and contemplating all of the elbows that have leaned against this bar and thinking, “I don’t know how I got here. But I’m here.”
“I sit in the Frank Sinatra booth when I go. They said they should call it the John Travolta booth, and I said, “OK, whatever you want.” But I like it being the Frank Sinatra booth.”
“There must be a trillion stories from there. I had the great privilege of meeting John P. St. John, badge No. 1 in LAPD robbery and homicide. He was in charge of the Black Dahlia case. One day John St. John called me and said he’d like to take me to dinner, to show me something. I met with him at Musso & Frank about 8:30 at night, had dinner, and after, he opened his briefcase and took out an 8-by-10 black-and-white, glossy, super beautiful, crisp, clean, focused detail picture of the Black Dahlia laying in the grass. And he said, “David, what do you see?” I looked at it intensely for like 10 minutes. I finally said, “I don’t see it.” He smiled, put the photo away and never talked about it again.”
“I thought about it day and night; it plagued me. It finally dawned on me much later, that the photos he showed me were taken at night. She wasn’t discovered until the next morning.”
Francis Ford Coppola
Once Francis Ford Coppola went there, and after inspecting the wine menu he asked why none of his wines were listed. The following week, the menu was revised and his wines were included.
In the late 1940s after shooting had ended for the day, Bogart would head to Musso and Frank for a few drinks at the bar. Lauren Bacall would call over there looking for him and they would tell her he wasn’t there.
“In the spirit of the Ocean’s movies, and the interest in a certain kind of Hollywood movie-star glamour, having a scene at Musso & Frank was a no-brainer. Obviously, filming there was a great opportunity to memorialize my good feelings about Musso & Frank. It’s really fun to bring someone for the first time and watch them soak up the vibe. I don’t know how anyone can go there and not want to go back.”