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George Clooney & Stacy Keibler at Craig's Bar/LA April 2012

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Re: George Clooney & Stacy Keibler at Craig's Bar/LA April 2012

Post by Astras on Sat Apr 28 2012, 12:17

All I'm thinking is "nice suit." Especially the 6th pic. But I'm shallow. ;D

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Re: George Clooney & Stacy Keibler at Craig's Bar/LA April 2012

Post by lucy on Sat Apr 28 2012, 14:34

Thanks for the vid Joanna, it reminds me why people sometimes look they way they do in pics. The paps yelling at them to get pics with certain facial expressions, think that maybe why George has a certain unhappy look so often. Don't know anything about Craigs, why it's the new hot spot( great food?) but if they wanted to avoid paps why go? Maybe Rande got to choose if it was his birthday dinner.

lovelylois, older people are fun, and SK isn't having dinner with her grandparents, it's GTC, Cindy Crawford, and Rande Gerber who happens to own many successful businesses. Bet you'd even have fun eating dinner with all those oldies but goodies!

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Re: George Clooney & Stacy Keibler at Craig's Bar/LA April 2012

Post by watching on Sun Aug 12 2012, 11:31

Could be the reason why George is regularly now going to Craig's instead of Dan Tana's. The guy that ran Tana's opened his own restaurant Craig's after Dan Tana's was sold in 2009. Jerry Weintraub is one of the investors in Craig's.

Craig Susser of Craig's
Friday, August 10, 2012, by Kat Odell

For 23 years Craig Susser worked at LA institution and celeb magnet Dan Tana's, taking a job while still in college, and moving up the ranks as server, bartender, maître d’ and finally GM. When Dan decided to sell his restaurant, Susser was faced with a decision. Continue to work for someone else, or take a risk and launch his own spot. Craig's opened a year and a half ago on Melrose serving Italian accented American fare to a similar Dan Tana's crowd. Here now Susser on table waits, regulars, and the future.

It's 8 p.m. on Saturday night. What's the wait for two? With a reservation, if we have done our job correctly, not long at all. Without a reservation, typically an hour or so.

Is there anything I can do to make my wait shorter? Hang out, have a drink, and take any table that is offered. We are here to be of service, we want you to sit and eat. We want our customers to know that we will do whatever we can to accommodate their requests.

Do you get a lot of celebrities? We are lucky to have an incredibly loyal following, some of them happen to be celebrities. Our job is make sure they have as normal an evening as possible.

Tell me about your favorite customers. Any customer is a favorite customer! What I love about our regulars is that they use Craig’s like an extension of their dining room. They sit, they love their favorite dishes, but are not afraid to taste chef Kursten Kizer’s specials. I love to bring something out from the kitchen that we are working on for them to try. They are like family. We have been through a great deal together. I always say, “It’s easy to take care of people when everything is going great; the real test is when someone’s life has taken a turn for the worst.” Looking after people through the ups and downs is really what hospitality is all about.

What's the strangest request that you've accommodated? Someone once asked me for a medium- rare steak because that’s the way their dog liked it.

Is the customer always right? Yes, within reason. We are here to serve, and our goal is to make our customers happy.

Do you have a lot of regulars? Yes, and I consider that the greatest form of flattery. Regulars are the life-blood of a successful restaurant.

What's the biggest different between running Dan Tana's and running your own place? Dan Tana’s has 47 years of history, and people’s expectations are firmly entrenched. The challenge in opening Craig’s was finding a way to create our own identity, and offer a compelling reason to dine with us. People today have very high expectations of three elements that have to be working together: food, service, and atmosphere. Chef Kursten Kizer (coming from the Post Ranch Inn) has been indispensable, along with Tommy Salvatore, our GM. The volume of regulars is proof that we’re on the right track.

What's the best thing to eat here? Filet with homemade Blue Cheese Ravioli. If you’re not a meat eater, the Cioppino is superb; and the vegan entrees have been wildly popular.

Would you ever open another restaurant? I would consider opening another restaurant if the right opportunity presents itself. I am keeping my eyes open. I am very aware of how fortunate I am in the success of my first restaurant, and don’t ever want to jeopardize that

What's on tap for the future? Our next job is getting the private table ready for service, which will seat a maximum of seven. The fun part will be working on tasting menus for the private table that will take full advantage of Chef Kursten’s abilities and imagination.


A Contender Elbows In
Kevin Scanlon for The New York Times

Craig Susser, formerly with Dan Tana’s, has opened his own restaurant that threatens to dim his ex-employer’s Hollywood wattage.
Published: February 18, 2011

A FEW weeks ago, Craig Susser, the former manager of the legendary Hollywood restaurant Dan Tana’s, interrupted a morning of paperwork to take a call from one of its regulars, the three-time Stanley Cup champion Junior Langlois.

"Junior, how you doing, handsome? I was going to call you," Mr. Susser said, leaning back in a swivel chair from his cluttered desk.

The office was in the back of Craig’s, his new restaurant on Melrose Avenue, which in the time-honored ritual of aspiring hot spots, had opened to select customers six days earlier, not far from Tana’s and another popular hangout, the Palm.

"I love you, you’re my brother, we’re not even really open yet,” Mr. Susser said to Mr. Langlois, and after a few more soothing words, hung up. "A lot of people are a little upset with me,” Mr. Susser said, “that I haven’t reached out to them individually."

One might also expect Dan Tana, who is 75, to be upset that his ex-employee — in another ritual of the restaurant business — rallied investors for his new place, including the billionaire Gary Winnick and the producer Jerry Weintraub, from within Dan Tana’s ranks. Mr. Susser, 45, said he’d been led to believe he was the heir apparent to Mr. Tana, and was taken aback when Mr. Tana sold his place to a friend, Sonja Perencevic, in 2009.

Reached by phone at his restaurant, Mr. Tana said tersely that he wished Mr. Susser well. "Craig was my eighth manager in almost 60 years. They have all been great and I’m sure Christian will be great, too,” Mr. Tana said, referring to Mr. Susser’s replacement, whose surname he could not recall. “With each one I lost some new customers and regained some old ones.”

And there are plenty of old ones. Tana’s, as it is known, opened in 1964 on Santa Monica Boulevard, serving Italian food to the crowd that overflowed from the Troubadour next door. It quickly joined a Los Angeles-area tradition of clubby-chic industry chophouses that includes Dominick’s, where Lew Wasserman and Sidney Korshak had a regular table and whose namesake proprietor sized up prospective diners through a peephole; and Chasen’s, now closed, where V.I.P.s had house accounts and the backroom was known as Fresno. (The now-defunct Ma Maison never quite made it into the pantheon — the food, perhaps, being too good.)

Mr. Susser began waiting on tables at Tana’s 23 years ago as an aspiring actor, spending more than a decade on the sleepy Sunday and Monday bartender shift; he was promoted to maitre d’ and manager in 2002. He prided himself on handling difficult personalities, like a verbally abusive film executive who demanded a table one crowded New Year’s Eve. Mr. Susser offered to make a reservation at the Palm instead.

“That’s the least you could do,” the executive barked.

Mr. Tana taught his protégé to cultivate the young, like Paris Hilton and Brandon Davis, while respecting the old (Sumner Redstone enters through the kitchen). Tending to A-listers like George Clooney, Ron Burkle and Mark Wahlberg became Mr. Susser’s life. Mr. Clooney picked up the tab from across the room while Mr. Susser was on his second date with his future wife at another restaurant. “The assist of a lifetime,” Mr. Susser said.

"If you do it right, you’re not just serving food," he said of managing diners. "We play golf together. We hang out together. We’re at birthday parties together. People say there’s no community in Los Angeles. I’m living proof that there is a community."

But in recent years, the elites, their noses buried in their BlackBerrys, have lacked a definitive gathering place. The much-ballyhooed arrival of Soho House on Sunset, an import from London and New York with a self-conscious exclusivity, failed to fill the void.

“There’s been a long march away from the old customer-focused restaurants," said Michael McCarty, proprietor of Michael’s, the still-humming power-lunch spots in New York and Santa Monica, Calif. "The idea comes and goes and it’s definitely back. Whenever you get a recession like this, people love the idea of a club where they can come together and see each other.”

The actor Ryan Phillippe, one of 20 investors in Craig’s, can be expected to shoo over some stars on Oscar night.

“The institutions that did exist like Chasen’s and Morton’s are gone,” said Mr. Phillippe, who is health-conscious and appreciates the salmon and vegetable soup at Craig’s. “I feel like Craig has a good shot, having paid his dues for two decades at an actual L.A. institution. I think he’s been schooled and educated in what makes a place last. There’s a way that you have to massage people in L.A. or New York and I think he knows how to do that."

"He lost a lot of money trying to open a place," Mr. Susser said. "He’d say, ‘God. L.A. and New York are two totally different animals.’ In New York at least you know how the system works. In L.A. you’re not really sure.”

His formula will be different from Mr. Tana’s (13 red-and-white checkered tables, bearing Chianti jugs and standard Italian fare illuminated by red Christmas-tree lights tacked to the ceiling). Mr. Susser hired the architect J. Scott Charles, a Tana’s regular, who asked him to create a storyboard of inspirational images.

"It all came out of old New York, which was where I kind of had to lead him away from that, because we’re not in New York,” Mr. Charles said. “He had Elaine’s up there. He had the Monkey Bar. I think he had some older restaurants in L.A. — Musso and Frank’s — but it was all that clubby feel that he wanted."

Instead of the reds and blacks of a traditional men’s club, the two men settled on booths in a limpid blue — “Cadillac convertible,” was how Mr. Charles described the color. The walls are brick veneer; the bar, authentic mahogany.

The layout, Mr. Susser explained during a tour of the place, is designed to allow for both privacy and self-display. An ample bar gives patrons room to breathe while they’re waiting — a certain amount of comfortable waiting being essential to the experience, he believes. And “the entire restaurant can pretty much see the bar,” Mr. Susser said, “except for a few tucked-away tables." There is no Siberia — or Fresno.

“It’s a hug. It’s a warmth. It’s cubbyholes,” Mr. Susser said. “It’s a darkness, but not too dark that you can’t see.”

He excused himself to greet Gary Bird, who made a fortune in music-industry trade magazines, and a friend, who had ambled in for an early dinner. Mr. Bird wasn’t pleased with the first table he was shown. "Sit wherever you like, you don’t need to throw your weight around," Mr. Susser said, joking. "The place is empty."

"Hey, if I want to throw my weight around I’ll buy half the place," bellowed Mr. Bird, settling into a booth.

"Love you," Mr. Susser said coyly, walking away.

Billy Arnott, a mustachioed Chicago transplant who defected from a coveted position as manager at the Polo Lounge to be Mr. Susser’s maitre d’, interrupted to ask where Lynn Wasserman should be seated later that evening.

"I don’t know," Mr. Susser said with a groan. And then: "Her father always sat at table one, so put her at table one." (Lew Wasserman was a Tana’s regular before his death in 2004.)

Other visitors have included the Hilton sisters, Derek Jeter and Jason Pomeranc, a New York hotelier.

“When I spoke to him before he opened the place, he actually said he wanted to open up ‘a joint,’ was the word he used, and I think that says a lot," said Mr. Pomeranc, whose circle of friends has a standing biweekly dinner at Dan Tana’s that has relocated to Craig’s for the time being. "I think it’s exciting to people, the idea of finding another restaurant to add to that short list of ‘this is my regular spot in L.A.’ "

Mr. Winnick, the billionaire investor, strained to think of contenders for that list ("There’s the Ivy on Saturday mornings”) and is confident he has a winner in Mr. Susser.

“He’s a passionate guy, and also he always took care of me at Dan Tana’s,” he said. “And then my kids start going and he took care of them. I think Craig’s has a real shot."

A grudging vote of confidence came from Nikki Finke, the hyper-connected blogger for Deadline Hollywood. “Gotta be a better place than the Grill,” read her post about Craig’s in October.

On a recent night, Ryan Seacrest, the host of “American Idol,” was in one booth and Lisa and Brittny Gastineau, the mother-daughter stars of “Gastineau Girls,” were at a table nearby.

"What are you doing here?" Ryan Seacrest exclaimed when he noticed Jerry West, a former star of the Los Angeles Lakers. "What do you mean?" Mr. West shot back. "This is the hottest restaurant in town."

Well, not quite yet. But it may be getting there.

Ken Ziffren, a heavyweight Hollywood lawyer, said he was impressed by the "spirit of the place and the diversity," noting that he probably won’t go to Dan Tana’s that often anymore.

"I like the atmosphere here better,” he said, noting that “When somebody gets drunk at Dan Tana’s and starts talking, it’s really loud. Really, really loud."

Of course, it takes more than the patrons or the food or the noise level to make a restaurant a joint.

"You need a David Chasen or a Peter Morton or an Elaine or a Michael," Mr. McCarty said. "Or a Craig."


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Re: George Clooney & Stacy Keibler at Craig's Bar/LA April 2012

Post by Lakin460 on Sun Aug 12 2012, 16:13

Thanks, watching, for the articles! Good reads.

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Re: George Clooney & Stacy Keibler at Craig's Bar/LA April 2012

Post by melbert on Sun Aug 12 2012, 18:02

All very interesting. I would like to go there at least once!!

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Re: George Clooney & Stacy Keibler at Craig's Bar/LA April 2012

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