Situated on Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of Beverly Hills,
Kate Mantilini - a favorite of comedian Mel Brooks and late
director Billy Wilder - will close its doors and pack up its
wood-backed booths on June 14 after 27 years.
"Many, many deals were made in those booths," said Adam Lewis,
the restaurant's chief executive who made the decision to close
after a rent increase. An outpost in Woodland Hills in Los
Angeles' San Fernando Valley will remain open.
"There's a semblance of privacy in there, but you can hear
everything everybody is saying," added Lewis, 59, whose older
brother David is the executive chef. "I've listened to pitches
go down; some were really good, some I can't believe they made
it this far."
The restaurant's popularity among the Hollywood set was down in
part to its location, said Tim Gray, a senior vice president of
trade publication Variety.
It sits across from film studio The Weinstein Co and two blocks
from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the
industry organization that hands out the Oscars.
"It really was one of the staples for industry lunches," Gray
said of the restaurant that is arranged like a postmodern diner
with a large sculptural sundial, a key early work by Pritzker
Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne's firm, Morphosis.
Kate Mantilini ranks as a top 10 business lunch spot for
entertainment industry insiders, according to a Hollywood
[to top of second column]
"Everybody who comes here is an agent or lawyer or a manager and
everybody table-hops - and they rely on good food," Lewis said,
sitting at a round table with his brother and 84-year-old mother,
Marilyn, who started the restaurant with her late husband Harry
Lewis, a former Warner Bros contract actor and founder of popular
chain Hamburger Hamlet.
The restaurant also served as a backdrop in Michael Mann's 1995
crime drama "Heat" starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.
"It was a real industry hangout ... because it had this amazing,
huge menu," Gray said. "They had everything in the world on it."
Dishes include chicken pot pie and other comfort foods, and
health-conscious staples such as brown rice with vegetables.
Marilyn Lewis, a self-described born-marketer who ran her own
couture clothing line Cardinali in the 1960s-70s, said she named the
restaurant after her uncle's mistress, whose long red-polished
fingernails enthralled her as a child.
"I liked the sound of it, and it would take a lot of letters, a lot
of signage," she said. "It is important for this fast traffic
because when they stop at the light and they see that big sign,
they've got to know that something's going on there. Something."
(Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Mohammad Zargham)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.