The “L.A. Story” Brunch RestaurantAug 6th, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
One L.A. Story location that I never in a million years thought I would be able to stalk was the exterior of the fictional Dr. Dalmar’s eatery (said to be located on the corner of Sunset and Crescent), where Harris K. Telemacher (Steve Martin) and his girlfriend Trudi (Marilu Henner) brunched with some friends towards the very beginning of the 1991 flick. I had long known that a patio at the now-defunct Ambassador Hotel had been used as the actual brunch site and consequently assumed that some other portion of the property had been featured as the restaurant’s entrance. Because the Ambassador was demolished in early 2006, though, this was one locale that I just did not put a whole lot of thought into.
It was not until I was scanning through L.A. Story to make screen captures for my post on the apartment building where Trudi lived in the movie, that I came across the brunch scene and spotted two street signs – one reading “4th St” and the other reading “3rd St” – visible in the background. Because the Ambassador Hotel was located near 7th and 8th Streets, I realized that the entrance to Dalmar’s had to be elsewhere. I also realized, due to the placement of said street signs, that the Dalmar’s exterior was in between 4th and 5th Street.
I also noticed that the Dalmar’s entrance was situated near the end of a T-shaped intersection, as you can see below. So I started searching for a T-shaped intersection on 5th Street in the vicinity of the Ambassador Hotel and, voila, I found the right spot after just a few minutes of searching.
As it turns out, the exterior of the L.A. Story brunch restaurant is actually the entrance to a mid-Wilshire area apartment complex named Regent Place.
In the beginning of the L.A. Story brunch scene, Harris and Trudy are shown walking on a brown trellised deck.
Well, let me tell you, I could NOT have been more excited to see that deck in person, especially being that I had for so long been under the incorrect assumption that it was no longer standing.
Harris and Trudi are also shown walking on that deck after finishing brunch . . .
. . . and then out to the valet stand in front of Dalmar’s, where Harris accidentally drives off, leaving Trudi standing on the curb alone. “Yeah, I know what you were concentrating on!” I LOVE that line. (For those who have no idea what I am referring to, you need to rent the movie immediately! )
In 2005, L.A. Story production designer Lawrence Miller filmed a featurette titled “The L.A. of L.A. Story” that detailed several of the locations used in the movie for the 15th Anniversary Edition DVD. One of the places that he chronicled was the brunch site and he actually ventured out to then soon-to-be demolished Ambassador Hotel for the segment. During the spot, he mentioned that the featurette was the very last production that would be shot on the premises prior to the demolition, which took place on January 16, 2006. (I am still bitter that the hotel was torn down. Such an incredible shame!) Lawrence also spoke about the fact that Dr. Dalmar’s was modeled after the Hotel Bel-Air’s Terrace restaurant. Producers had actually originally wanted to film the brunch scene at the Bel-Air, but, for whatever reason, the hotel would not allow it. Lawrence did a fabulous job with the set design, though, because Dalmar’s did end up looking very much look like the Terrace (or at least what the eatery used to look like prior to the Bel-Air’s 2011 remodel).
The spot that was used as the brunch site was located on the south side of the Ambassador Hotel near the swimming pool. Pictured below is what that area looked like in 2005 when Lawrence returned to film “The L.A. of L.A. Story.” You can check out a picture of that portion of the hotel during the Ambassador’s heyday here.
For the shoot, Lawrence built a large trellis overhang that matched one of the Ambassador’s actual trellises (that actual trellis is pictured below) and he also brought in hundreds of trees.
Pictured below are some behind-the-scenes images of the brunch scene shoot, in which you can get a better look at the set-up.
The Ambassador Hotel was also featured in two other scenes in L.A. Story. The infamous Embassy Ballroom (where Bobby Kennedy spoke just prior to being assassinated on June 5, 1968) was used as a soundstage during the filming and was where the two El Pollo Del Mar hotel rooms were constructed. According to Lawrence, “The window wall was used in both hotel rooms and was moved back and forth depending on which part of the scene we were shooting.” He goes on to say, “The large furniture in the suite was used in both hotel suites. That was our little trick to make it appear a little more glamorous than it was.”
The ballroom in its 2005 state when Lawrence filmed “The L.A. of L.A. Story” is pictured below.
And finally, the scenes that took place at the fictional hot spot L’Idiot, where Harris dined with his new love interest, Sara McDowel (Victoria Tennant), and her ex-husband, Roland Mackey (Richard E. Grant), were filmed at the Ambassador Hotel’s coffee shop. Both the exterior of the coffee shop . . .
. . . and the interior were used in the shoot.
According to Lawrence, the coffee shop’s walls and columns were covered over with white corrugated fiber glass during the filming and neon lights were also installed to make the site appear less “tropical.”
As you can see below, though, the booths were left intact during the filming. Man, how I wish that place was still around!
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Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The exterior of Dr. Dalmar’s, the L.A. Story brunch restaurant, is actually the entrance to the Regent Place apartment complex, which is located at 426 South Norton Avenue, just south of Hancock Park, in Los Angeles. The interior of the brunch scene was filmed at the former Ambassador Hotel, which used to stand at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles.