Friday, February 24, 2012

"Chez Jay"

When piped-in music and a bar's history perfectly align, it makes for a sweet cocktail of synchronicity, a besotted wink from the intimate interior that makes all the drinkers lean into their liquor just a little bit more.

On a recent Sunday night, the ramshackle Chez Jay, a beachcomber bistro in Santa Monica with a legendary past, was packed. Glasses twinkled, waiters rushed through the room delivering steaming steaks, and the Doors' "L.A. Woman" played overhead. "Driving down your freeways," Morrison growled, and it seemed like the room was right there with him, careening down Pacific Coast Highway.

Morrison was known to frequent Chez Jay, as well as a host of other famous regulars in its 53 years of business. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, Lee Marvin, Judy Garland and even Marilyn Monroe would get seated in the curtained-off booth in the back, Table 10.

The restaurant, and that table in particular, is reported in the unpublished memoirs of now-deceased owner Jay Fiondella to have been the birthplace of many a screenplay, including work by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, as well parts of Warren Beatty's "Shampoo."

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