The Cat & FiddleFeb 10th, 2015 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
We’ll always have the Cat & Fiddle. Or so Angelinos thought. Sadly, the historic restaurant closed its doors this past December. When news of the impending shuttering hit the blogosphere in late October, I became desperate to stalk the eatery – especially once I read via several online news outlets that it had appeared in Casablanca (though, due to the fact that the 1942 classic was filmed pretty much solely at Warner Bros. Studios, I had my doubts as to the authenticity of the claims). I had visited the Cat & Fiddle once many moons prior (the Grim Cheaper’s friends took us there for cocktails on his birthday in 2002), but failed to take any photos. So I ran right back out there for a proper stalk last November while my friends Lavonna, Kim, Melissa and Maria were in town (that’s Melissa and Maria above).
The Spanish-style courtyard complex that housed the Cat & Fiddle for almost thirty years was originally constructed between 1928 and 1929. The property was known as the “Court of Olive” at the time and had been commissioned by silent film star Fred Thomson and his wife, journalist/screenwriter Frances Marion. In its earliest inception, the two-story site served as a shopping pavilion. It later became known as the “Fred Thompson Building” and went on to house a studio commissary, a studio wardrobe department, professional offices and several restaurants. You can check out some photographs of the place in its early days here. Miraculously, the building still looks exactly the same today as it did then.
Kim and Paula Gardner, proprietors of the Cat & Fiddle, brought their eatery to the Fred Thompson Building in 1985. The couple had originally established the British-style pub/restaurant at 2100 Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills (that space is now Pace) in October 1982, but it became immensely popular in a very short time and neighboring residents soon complained about the noisiness of the patrons, and the Gardners were forced to move.
For the Cat & Fiddle’s new home, Kim and Paula chose a shaded unit with a large patio located at the rear of the Thomson Building.
The Cat & Fiddle remained popular after the move and even celebrities were known to drop by. Such stars as Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, Noel Gallagher, Russell Brand, Shania Twain, Nathan Fillion, Abbie Cornish, Jeremy Piven, David Cross, Ed Helms, Lizzy Caplan, Bill Hader, Seth Green, Rosamund Pike, Dave Grohl, and Chris Evans were all spotted there at one time or another, while Christopher Lloyd, Morrissey and Drew Barrymore were longtime regulars.
Upon Kim’s death in 2001, Paula took over daily operations of the restaurant along with daughter Ashlee. While the place continued to be an extremely popular watering hole among celebs and non-celebs alike, in late 2014 the building’s owner, Jesse Shannon, informed Paula and Ashlee that he had chosen not to renew their lease. (Apparently, they had been paying less than half the market value of the space for quite some time.) The Cat & Fiddle’s last day of business was on December 15th. Paula and Ashlee are currently looking for a new spot to rent and hope to someday reopen their beloved restaurant. As for the historic space that once housed it? Shannon stated that he would be spending millions to restore the building to its 1920s state and that it would then be leased out to what Eater LA called a “familiar” name.
There are differing reports as to where exactly in the Cat & Fiddle space Casablanca was filmed. Obviously, the movie was shot long before the Cat ever came onto the scene, but the flick was supposedly lensed in the unit where the restaurant was later situated). Some claim that the room below, which is named the “Casablanca Room,” appeared in the movie.
While others claim that filming took place on the patio. The patio area truly is picturesque and, while it does bring to mind the atmosphere of Casablanca, I still had serious doubts that any filming of the movie had occurred on the premises.
As it turns out, my suspicions were correct. I recently watched Casablanca – and then later scanned through it a second time – and did not see the Cat & Fiddle pop up anywhere. As I mentioned above, from what I have been able to garner online, it seems that production of the movie never left the studio. Even the countless reports about a scene being lensed at the Van Nuys Airport have been debunked. So then how did the Cat & Fiddle rumors come about? My best guess is that the Thomson Building was featured at some point in either the 1955 television series Casablanca or its 1983 successor. That is just a guess, though. What I can say with absolutely certainty – unless I seriously missed something – is that the 1942 film did not shoot any footage at the Cat & Fiddle property. On a side-note – Casablanca is such a fabulous movie! I’ve seen it several times now and it just never gets old. If you have yet to watch it, I highly recommend that you do.
Thanks to Geoff, from the 90210Locations site, though, I learned that something was filmed at the Cat & Fiddle! In the Season 1 episode of Ray Donovan titled “Road Trip,” Tommy Wheeler (Austin Nichols) got into some trouble at the restaurant and Ray (Live Schreiber) had to remedy things for him.
Only the exterior of the pub was used in the episode, though. Interiors were filmed elsewhere.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The Cat & Fiddle was formerly located at 6530 West Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. You can check out the restaurant’s official website, which is is still online, here.