The Former Site of the RoxburyApr 2nd, 2012 | By Lindsay | Category: This and That
In honor of my girl Shannen Doherty’s new reality series, Shannen Says, which premieres next Tuesday (can’t wait!), I thought I would blog today about one of the actress’ famed hangouts from her Beverly Hills, 90210 days – the Roxbury in West Hollywood. Back when I was a teenager and knee-deep in my 90210 obsession (ah, who am I kidding, I am still knee-deep in it!), I clamored for any and all magazines featuring the show’s stars. I would practically drool while reading of their various comings and goings, especially Shannen’s, and as her name became more and more synonymous with the Roxbury, the legendary Sunset Strip club became seared into my memory. I, sadly, never had the opportunity to stalk the place, though, as it closed its doors in 1997, long before I moved to Los Angeles. But back in 2002, after an acting class, one of my friends invited me to grab some drinks at a hot spot named Miyagi’s. Not being a nightclub kinda girl myself, I turned down the offer, to which my friend said, “Are you sure? Miyagi’s used to be the Roxbury, where your girl Shannen Doherty hung out.” Well, believe you me, once I heard those words, I was in! In true Hollywood fashion, not even Miyagi’s stood the test of time, though, and, as you can see above, today the location houses a newly-opened Pink Taco. But I figured since the site was hallowed ground for any 90210 fan, it was definitely blog-worthy.
The building that stands at the corner of Roxbury Road and West Sunset Boulevard has long been the darling of the Sunset Strip. The spot’s first incarnation was a celebrity supper club named The Players, or The Players Club, that was founded in 1940 by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Preston Sturges. During its Players days, such luminaries as Humphrey Bogart, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Rudy Vallee, William Faulkner, George S. Kaufman, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles and Howard Hughes all hung out there. Despite its popularity, the club started to falter by the early 1950s, though, most likely due to the fact that Preston often closed the three-story, 12,000-square-foot venue, which included a barber shop, a hydraulic stage, a burger stand, and three different restaurants, in order to host private parties for his famous friends. In 1953, his creditors sold the place to new owners who opened a Japanese restaurant named Imperial Gardens on the site. That eatery also proved to be quite popular with the Hollywood set and catered to such stars as John Savage, James Woods, John Travolta, and Olivia Newton-John.
In 1989, after an amazing 36-year run, Imperial Gardens closed and partners Brad Johnson and Elie Samaha purchased the establishment and transformed it into the Roxbury. Virtually overnight, the club became the place to see and be seen in Hollywood. The stars of 90210 flocked there like moths to a flame and were spotted partying on the premises virtually every night. Oh, what I wouldn’t have given to have been 21 and living in Hollywood at that time. Besides Tori Spelling, Brian Austin Green, Shannen Doherty and Mark Wahlberg (pictured at the club in a November 1992 People Magazine article), other celebrities that spent time at the Roxbury during its almost decade-long reign on the Sunset Strip include Cher, John Travolta, Madonna, Tom Cruise, Prince, Sylvester Stallone, River Phoenix, Christina Applegate, Eddie Murphy, and, of all people, Geraldo Rivera. The club was so popular that it even inspired the movie A Night at the Roxbury, although no actual filming took place on site. And Eric Huerta, the Roxbury’s longtime bouncer, became so well-known himself that a Los Angeles Times article was written about him in November of 1993. As usually happens with hotspots in Los Angeles, though, the Roxbury’s star began to fade and eventually closed in 1997. Shortly thereafter, Miyagi’s, a Japanese-inspired club/restaurant, opened in its place. I do not remember much of what Miyagi’s was like from my one visit there back in 2002, aside from the fact that the place was huge, the food was good, and, as I danced, all I could think about was that Shannen Doherty herself had one danced in the very same spot. I was practically pinching myself all night.
Miyagi’s closed its doors sometime in 2008 and was purchased by Harry Morton, owner of the Pink Taco restaurant chain and son of Hard Rock Café founder Peter Morton. The young restaurateur immediately set about gutting the interior of the place and wound up discovering some traces of the historic Players Club in the process – including the entrance to a former underground (now sealed) tunnel that once connected the hotspot to the Chateau Marmont and was used by celebrities who wanted to escape prying eyes. And while Pink Taco did not officially open until yesterday, a private birthday bash was held there on March 23rd in honor of Jared Eng, the blogger behind the JustJared website. Some of the stars who attended that soiree include Fergie, Rumer Willis, Kellan Lutz, Lance Bass, Natasha Bedingfield, Seth MacFarlane, Avril Lavigne, and a few of this generation’s 90210-ers including Shenae Grimes, Jessica Stroup, and my love Matt Lanter (sigh!).
Thankfully, the exterior of the Sunset Boulevard hotspot hasn’t changed much over the years and despite the fact that it is now painted a bright pink (and yes, that is a whole lotta pink!), it still looks much the same as it did in the 1940s. You can see what The Players used to look like here, Imperial Gardens here, the Roxbury here, and Miyagi’s here. And you can check out some interior pictures of the new Pink Taco on fave website EaterLA here.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Pink Taco, aka the former site of the Roxbury, is located at 8225 West Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. You can visit the restaurant chain’s official website here.