Seeing Stars: Where the Stars Dine..  


 
8795 Sunset Boulevard,
West Hollywood, CA. / (310) 652-4025


This original Spago Hollywood, on the Sunset Strip, closed permanently in March 2001.

The newer Spago Beverly Hills remains open,
as do Puck's other many restaurants.

(The building which used to house the original Spago on the Sunset Strip is now home to "Lobster Bay", an expensive seafood restaurant.)


This was the original Spago - celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck's first restaurant, and one of most famous restaurants in the world.  It was also virtually synonymous with star-watching.

Located just above the Sunset Strip, the original Spago attracted almost everyone who was anyone in Hollywood, from producers to politicians to major movie stars. Regulars included:


   

Jack Nicholson, Cindy Crawford, Sharon Stone. Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Michael Douglas, Oprah Winfrey, Michael J. Fox, Dudley Moore, Michael Caine, Kathleen Turner, Clint Eastwood, Bob Newhart, Steve Martin, Carroll O'Connors, Aaron Spelling, Warren Beatty and Donald Sutherland, to name just a few. The late Gene Kelly and George Burns also used to be regulars.

   

Newcomers like Leonardo DiCaprio had also been spotted there recently. Barbara Walters recently brought the other four women from "The View" here for dinner. Jamie Lee Curtis hosted a party there in May. And Sidney Poitier had his 71st birthday party at Spago in 1998.

Both former secret agents 007 (Sean Connery and Roger Moore) are also regulars, but most of the agents who hung out at Spago didn't keep it a secret. They were from Hollywood agencies, and they were here to be seen and to make deals.

Such players even rated the tables here for status. According to their hierarchy, the best table was supposedly near the window to the right of the entrance, the third table down, between the kitchen and the reservation desk. The back room (nicknamed "Siberia") was the worst - and is where most of us who weren't celebrities ended up). But since the restrooms were up front, one could use a visit there as an excuse to spy on the famous faces in the front room.

First opened in 1982, Spago pioneered what is now known as "California Cuisine," and was famous for designer pizzas and pasta. But the eclectic menu could also include "Grilled rare tuna with wasabi potato puree, plum wine black pepper glaze and crisp shallots," "Porcini-crusted sweetbreads with spring onion relish and roasted bell pepper coulis"," or "Roasted chicken breast with goat cheese, sauteed mushrooms and truffle oil."

Spago served dinner only (no lunch), and a meal for two would have cost you around $60 to $100, but the restaurant's decor was surprisingly casual (bordering on ramshackle), right down to its wire-mesh patio chairs.

Since most of their regulars customers were celebrities, reservations could be hard to get, especially on weekends.

Many stars preferred to come in through the back entrance to avoid the paparazzi.

For years, Spago was the place to be on Oscar Night. Each March, after the Academy Award show, super agent "Swifty" Lazar (*) held his annual post-Oscar party here at Spago, and just about every movie star in town waited for an invitation. The arrival of those superstars (and their limos) naturally brought out the fans and the news media for a feeding frenzy of a different kind each year. But "Swifty" died in 1994, and the preferred post-Oscar party now seems to be the one at Morton's. Puck now devotes most of his time to catering the Academy's official post-Oscar Governor's Party (held in a tent outside the Music Center). However, Spago was still a star-scene on Oscar Night, right up until the year it closed (2001).

In 1998, Elton John moved his famous post-Oscar party to Spago Beverly Hills (which quickly became more popular with celebrities than the West Hollywood branch.)

However, the original Spago still attracted stars even after the new BevHils branch opened. In August of 1999, for instance, Albert Brooks held his post-premiere party for "The Muse" there, with guests that included Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Matthew Perry, Andie MacDowell, model Rachel Hunter, Lorenzo Lamas, Gina Gershon, Faye Dunaway, Red Buttons and Rosanna Arquette.

But on most days, the big names of Hollywood preferred the Beverly Hills branch, eventually leaving the original Spago Hollywood mostly to the tourists. In March of 2001, just after Oscar night, Puck closed down Spago Hollywood. Many of the restaurants long-time regulars attended one last party at the Sunset Strip location.

But no one's in mourning. There's plenty of Puck to go around in this town. Wolfgang now also runs three other prominent restaurants: Chinois on Main (in Santa Monica) Granita (in Malibu), and Spago Beverly Hills, all of which have a considerable celebrity following of their own.

He also several owns less formal spots, including: Wolfgang Puck's California Cafe, at the Universal CityWalk, the Wolfgang Puck Cafe in the posh South Coast Plaza mall in Costa Mesa, and the very informal Spago Express cafeteria on Santa Monica's trendy Third Street Promenade.


Getting there: Spago was located just above the Sunset Strip, at Horn Avenue. / From Hollywood & Vine, take Vine Street two blocks south to Sunset Boulevard, and turn right (west). Go west on Sunset (about three and a half miles) to Horn Avenue (the second street after Sunset Plaza Drive). Spago would have been on your right (north) side of Sunset (right across from Tower Records).



[You can access Puck's official website at: http://www.wolfgangpuck.com.]

[You can read a menu from Spago online at: http://www.kerrymenu.com/Spago.htm.]



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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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