The Grill on the Alley from “The Holiday”Dec 16th, 2014 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
This past weekend, while wandering through my local Target with the Grim Cheaper, I happened to spot a DVD of fave movie The Holiday on sale for $3.99! When I saw that the special features included a commentary with director Nancy Meyers and a making-of featurette, I just about flipped my lid and immediately snapped the DVD up. (Though I have seen The Holiday more times than I can count, because I own it on iTunes, I had never seen any of the special features.) It was perfect timing, too, since I am now (finally) in the midst of writing my Christmas-themed posts. I had also just stalked The Grill on the Alley, which was featured in the flick, this past November while my friends Lavonna, Kim, Melissa and Maria were in town (that’s Melissa and Maria above), so I was most excited to listen to the commentary from that portion of the film.
The Grill on the Alley was originally founded in January 1984 by a man named Bob Spivak. The food industry ran in Bob’s veins – his grandfather owned a Los Angeles ice cream/chocolate shop in the early 1900s and his father was the founder of the Redwood House, now known as the Redwood Bar & Grill, which was featured in Bridesmaids and which I blogged about here. In 1982, at the age of 39 and after a long tenure working in a grocery store and a short tenure owning a soup/salad restaurant, Bob found himself at a transition point in life. Recently divorced, without a job and living on his father’s couch, he decided he wanted to open an upscale steakhouse in Beverly Hills, one that offered fabulous customer service and no-nonsense food. He found financial backers fairly quickly and then secured a space to lease. The only problem with the 4,600-square-foot spot was that its main frontage was on an extremely traffic-y block of Wilshire Boulevard, on a stretch of street that did not allow parking until after 7 p.m. each day. (The Wilshire side of the building is pictured below.)
The location did have a rear entrance, though, reached via a side alley off of Dayton Way, which gave Bob an idea. In a February 2014 The Hollywood Reporter article, he explains, “I went to the building department and asked to place the entrance on the alley. They wouldn’t let me due to an ordinance against businesses opening onto an alley that they had in place. So I pulled maps and realized I had less than an inch of Dayton frontage and went to a hardware store, bought a mailbox and painted 9560 Dayton on it. Just made that address up. Then I went to the post office, mailed myself a letter, got it delivered and showed the canceled stamp to the building department. They approved it!”
That “less than an inch of Dayton frontage” is denoted with red arrows below. What a great story!
Thanks to its proximity to the headquarters of the William Morris Talent Agency, The Grill soon became the place “to lunch” in Beverly Hills. Just a few of the power players and their clients who have been spotted dining there over the years include Michael Ovitz, Sumner Redstone, Rupert Murdoch, Ron Meyer (father of Jennifer Meyer), Tom Brokaw, Vin Scully, Steven Spielberg, Bruce Springsteen, Fred Astaire, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Muhammad Ali, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Carson, Katie Holmes, Sean Penn, Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Joel McHale, and Michael Douglas.
The Grill remains insanely popular to this day, over thirty years after its founding. In fact, the eatery has spawned six additional Grill on the Alley locations, as well as the casual dining chain The Daily Grill, of which there are currently 21 outposts.
While we were stalking the place, we had the pleasure of meeting The Grill’s longtime maître d’, Pamela Gonyea . . .
. . . as well as the restaurant’s wine education coordinator, Carmen Rupe, both of whom could NOT have been nicer. Bob maintains that The Grill’s customer service philosophy is, “The answer is yes – now what was the question.” And we were certainly given that treatment despite the fact that we were not even dining on the premises! Carmen and Pamela spent quite a bit of time answering all of our questions about the various filmings that have taken place there over the years and they also let us take all of the photographs of the place that we wanted. Carmen even led us over to the center of the dining room to show us exactly where The Holiday had been filmed!
In The Holiday, The Grill on the Alley is where Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) takes Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach) for dinner shortly after meeting him. Before inviting him to dine with her, Iris asks Arthur if he is busy that evening, to which he gives his famous line, “Busy? Honey, I haven’t been busy since 1978.”
According to Nancy Meyers’ DVD commentary, The Grill on the Alley was chosen for the scene because it is a place that Arthur, a former Hollywood screenwriter, and his colleagues would have frequented in their day. Nancy had the two seated at a regular table in the center of the Grill’s dining room to show they are just regular people, not the “Hollywood elite.” Apparently the booths that line the perimeter of the restaurant are considered prime real estate in real life and where the show biz power players are usually seated.
I, of course, just had to pose for a picture in the same spot where the movie was filmed.
Carmen and Pamela also informed us that The Grill had been featured in the Season 5 episode of Entourage titled “Fantasy Island.”
In the episode, The Grill on the Alley was the spot where Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) discussed the upcoming movie Danger Beach with producer Carl Ertz (Kim Coates). Notice that Vincent and Carl were seated in a perimeter booth in the scene.
Pamela was even visible in the episode!
Pamela and Carmen also let us know that the Season 5 episode of The Hills titled “Keep Your Enemies Closer” had been shot at the restaurant. In the episode, The Grill was where Stephanie Pratt went on a date with a DJ named Robert.
On a side-note – I would like to wish a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY today to my dad, who, despite being chronically ill, always finds a way to regularly do special, extraordinary things for my mom, the GC and me. I love you so much! (That’s me and my dad pictured below during one of my very first trips to Disneyland.)
Until next time, Happy Stalking!