I clearly remember that I was 16, and I can recall the warm Californian heat kissing my face. My father stopped as we walked along the street, and he looked at me and said, ‘I think it’s about time you eat in a proper restaurant. Especially if you want to be an author. You see all those books you read and writers you like so much; Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Bukowski. Well, they all came to this place. All of them.’ I glanced at my father with a mixture of confusion and anticipation and asked, ‘What place do you mean?’ In response, he simply said, ‘Look up’. I did as he told me, and there it was, staring right at me. The famous sign ‘Musso and Frank Grill.’
Long before Holywood was truly Hollywood, The Musso and Frank Grill was there, nestled in the heart of Los Angeles, California. Located on Hollywood Boulevard, Musso and Frank is not just a restaurant but a living piece of Hollywood’s golden age. The restaurant is steeped in Hollywood history, having hosted numerous luminaries over the years. From literary giants like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Raymond Chandler to iconic actors such as Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and Humphrey Bogart, the walls of Musso and Frank echo with conversations and laughter of the past and present.
Sipping Shirley Temples in martini glasses
For over 100 years, in what is an ever-changing world Musso’s has stood proudly, seeing it and surviving it all. Established in 1919 by entrepreneur Frank Toulet, who joined forces with Joseph Musso and brilliant French chef Jean Rue, the restaurant quickly became known for its outstanding service and culinary excellence. In 1927, John Mosso, together with his partner, Joseph Carrissimi, purchased The Musso & Frank Grill whilst keeping the expertise of Jean Rue at the helm of the kitchen, where he would stay for 53 years.
Born in Turin, Italy in 1888, John Mosso was an automotive engineer for Fiat, but that was all to change in 1922 when Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy began to take shape. Mosso decided to pack his bags and left Italy with his wife and daughter for the United States to begin an adventure which would change their lives forever.
Today, The Musso & Frank Grill is owned by the families of the three granddaughters of John Mosso: Steve and Anne Jones, John and Cathy Echeverria and Richard and Kristen Kohlmeyer. The COO/CFO/Proprietor, is Mark Echeverria, John Mosso’s great-grandson, and today, he is as committed as ever to providing the authentic experience, ambience and traditional dining of historic Hollywood, and upholding four generations of family tradition and integrity. The Atlantic Dispatch had the pleasure of catching up with Mark as he told us about his favourite memories, staying ahead of the competition, and what The Musso and Frank experience truly is.
Now, for anybody that has ever visited Musso’s, they will all have their favourite recollection. So, what would that be for Mark Echeverria? ‘My favourite memory is as a 4-year-old boy. Sipping Shirley Temples in Martini glasses with my grandmother (2nd generation owner), my sister and cousins. We felt so sophisticated! I can visually remember what booth we were in and Ruben the bartender was serving our “cocktails” I think this is a very similar feeling that many of our customers have had throughout their relationship with the restaurant.’
Being the first restaurant to be honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it is a place that represents what fine dining should be and an experience to be savoured and remembered. In a day and age where the world moves so quickly, and the culture of instant satisfaction, and selfies reign supreme, Musso and Frank is a reminder for us all that sometimes we just need to sit and experience life every once in a while – take in the sights, sounds, scents, and the history of it all.
our customers truly feel like part of our family
The restaurant’s elegant and classic interior decor, with its dark wood-panelled walls, vintage red leather banquettes, and softly glowing table lamps, exudes an ambience of old-world glamour and sophistication. The Musso and Frank Grill is more than just a restaurant; it is a cherished cultural landmark that has witnessed the evolution of Los Angeles and the entertainment industry. It continues to delight and enchant with its timeless ambience, exceptional cuisine, and a sense of history that is truly unparalleled. A visit to Musso and Frank is not just a meal; it is an experience that transports you to a bygone era, allowing you to savour the essence of old Hollywood while creating new memories.
Having been established in 1919, it has stood the test of time and continues to captivate locals and visitors alike with its rich history, timeless charm, and exceptional culinary offerings. ‘Our history brings you in but the food and service keep you coming back,’ explains Mark. ‘Over the years we have had the unique ability to forge very strong relationships with those we proudly serve. It is not uncommon to see 3 and 4 generations dining together in a booth. Through our fine cuisine and crisp humble service from familiar servers, our customers truly feel like part of our family.’ They always say that there’s no place like home and Musso’s represents that. For many people coming to Musso’s feels like coming home.
we have stood the test of time, and we’re just getting started
For 100 years, Musso’s has been serving up classic, time-honoured, freshly prepared recipes. From the original 1914 recipe for fettuccine Alfredo to their mouthwatering ground beef sandwich, the classic menu hasn’t changed, in-fact it’s a testament to its commitment to culinary excellence. They have become renowned for their traditional cuisine, offering a delectable selection of dishes that have stood the test of time. From perfectly cooked steaks and chops to savoury seafood creations, each plate is expertly prepared and served with the utmost attention to detail. The exceptional service at Musso and Frank is an integral part of its charm.
In what is often a brutal and uncompromising industry where fusion, fads and trends often dominate the cut-throat culinary scene, how does Musso’s stay ahead of the competition? ‘Food trends have come and gone throughout our century-plus in business,’ Mark tells us. ‘One thing that has remained constant is that people will always want to go back to a place that is consistently great, somewhere they know they will get a great experience, somewhere they can rely on. We have always fit that mould, and have never changed.’
The staff, many of whom have been with the restaurant for decades, embody a warm and professional demeanour, ensuring that every guest feels like a part of the family. Every member of the team, and every waiter is dressed immaculately and are the embodiment of true professionals, they take pride in their work, and there is nothing left to chance.
Credit for maintaining 100 years of tradition and excellence can be partly put down to Mark Echeverria and Executive Chef, J.P. Amateau, who astonishingly became only the third person to have held the title of Executive Chef at Musso’s (following the tenures of Jean Rue and his successor, Michel Bourger). When Mark took over operations in 2009, Musso’s was at a low point. The quality of food wasn’t living up to expectations, the roof was falling apart and the restaurant was slowly dying. Offers were made by outside parties to buy the place, but the family refused. Instead, Mark, and J. P. Amateau set about putting their heart and soul into delicately updating their most famous dishes and gently bringing new life back to the menu, without making wholesale changes.
I’ve dined at restaurants across the world, that offer the latest in ‘gastro excellence’ but they never last. You always find yourself coming back to what you know and love the best. That’s not to say that Musso’s doesn’t move with the times, or that they are stuck in the past, purely dining purely on nostalgia. In November 2021, they launched four brand new private dining rooms, which offer the essential the ‘Old Hollywood’ experience.
The design of the new dining rooms is a continuation of the aesthetic that Musso’s is known for: wood paneled-walls, rich colors and soft lighting, much like the menu, favouring tradition over trend. The scale and configuration of the new rooms allows for a more intimate and exclusive dining experience, and includes the stunning Palio Wine Room, named for the famed Palio di Siena horse race dating back more than six hundred years. This private wine room captures the Old World ambience of Northern Italy, lined with oak wood paneling, hand-painted murals, temperature-controlled wine cases and handcrafted furniture.
What has remained throughout these changes is the same consistency of service and exacting standards that have made Musso’ a place of excellence. ‘When you go to Musso’s,’ Marks adds, ‘you know exactly what you’re going to get, you know exactly who is going to serve it, and you know exactly the ambience in which you will be. For this reason, we have stood the test of time, and we’re just getting started.’
you instantly feel like you are in a place that matters
Musso’s has long been the darling of Hollywood Writers and Producers, it is a place that stole the heart of Quentin Tarantino, and was featured in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It has also starred in Oceans 11, Mad Men and countless others, but I should emphasise there is much more to Musso’s than its famous guests.
Their story and remarkable past does not tell the full story. This is a great restaurant, that does great food. History doesn’t keep a restaurant going during a global pandemic. An event which changed the world as we know it, doesn’t care too much if Steve McQueen once propped up the bar, or if Charlie Chaplin liked a window seat. It’s customers care though. Now, loyalty is a commodity that can’t be bought. It is earned, and Musso’s has done just that. When the recession hit, the restaurant not only survived but prospered because of its loyal customers.
At its very heart, Musso’s is a family business, and like any family, there have been obstacles to overcome. ‘The biggest challenges,’ says Mark, ‘have been the peaks and valleys of business over the past century. Any business that has been around as long as us has had deep valleys and high peaks. I strive to learn from generations past and stay true to our family values and integrity especially when we need to climb out of a valley. Learn from those before you.’
The appeal of Musso’s has lasted for over 100 years now, and its legacy will continue for 100 more. It is the past, future, and present. It’s allure since the days of Bogart and Bukowski has not faded and in-fact its light shines brighter than ever. In a recent poll we asked our readers to name their bucket list restaurant from any location in the world. The place they named? The Musso and Frank Grill. So if you’re going to Musso’s for the first time, what should you expect? ”Coming into Musso’s for the first time is like stepping back in history.’ Mark tells us. ‘The sound of dishes clanking, soft voices from booths, the smell of our in-dining room grill, you instantly feel like you are in a place that matters. Have a Martini, some oysters, a bottle of wine with your steak and top it off with a signature dessert and an espresso! For those that have been here before, Gore Vidal summed it up perfectly, “Stepping into Musso’s is like stepping into a warm bath” a sense of familiarity and comfort!’
With thanks to the gentleman that is COO/CFO/Proprietor Mark Echeverria and the good people at Asbury PR
To learn more about the story and history of The Musso and Frank Grill, please visit here