Friday, July 3, 2020

Alfonse's Restautant

There are a few restaurants/bars in the LA/ Burbank area that have a strong Disney connection.
Let's start with this painting by Marc Davis. He describes it like this:

"Alfonse's Restaurant in Toluca Lake was a favorite haunt of several Disney artists. Because I ate there regularly, they wanted something of mine to hang. This represents four drinks at Alphonse's:
a Martini, an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan and a Highball. It used to hang over a table for two. When Alfonse's closed, they gave me back the painting. All the years of cigarette smoke filtered up from that table gave it an interesting patina. I've cleaned some of it off, but traces remain."

Alfonse's closed quite a few years ago, and I don't know what year it opened.
Here is a vintage photo of the restaurant's outside.

Eric Larson took me to Alphonse's before I started working at the studio. Eric always had his own table reserved, no matter wether he showed up that day or not. It really felt like a longtime Disney hangout. The California sun was shut out with window blindes. The atmosphere was "loungy" and relaxed. The staff loved their regular Disney patrons. Eric would have a sherry before his meal. Even though being a Mormon, he allowed himself this guilty pleasure during visits.

So this is the place where Marc Davis would have a long lunch during the early 1960s, while animating Cruella de Vil. 2 - 3 Martinis were not uncommon, but bear in mind that in those days a Martini was a LOT smaller. Not to be compared to the serving size of today. 

Another interesting thing about this place:
During the late 1980s sculptor Andrea Favilli started to schedule lunches there by invitation only.
The idea being to bring Disney old-timers and newcomers together at the same table for lunch.
It was called the Dinosaur Club!
I was lucky enough to be included, which resulted in several very memorable lunch times.
Guess who showed up at these lunches? Not regularly but off and on:
Frank & Ollie, Marc Davis, Ken Anderson, Claude Coats, Bill Layne, John Hench and other artists from Disney animation and Imagineering. 
I will always remember when my German buddy Hans Bacher presented Ken Anderson with a scrapbook of artwork and photos from 101 Dalmatians. Ken was so touched to see that his work was still being studied and appreciated. These were historical encounters!

Hans has posted about The Dinosaur Club here:


  1. Wow, that drawing is extraordinary – a perfect depiction of the most classical cocktails through Davis' lense.

    Do you by any chance know where to find this picture in a slightly larger resolution? I would love to hang it over our house bar …

    1. Sorry, I don't have a hi/res file of the painting.
      It might be available as a giclee print though. I'll try to find out.

  2. Thank you for this, I love learning more about this kind of stories. And Marc's talent never ceases to amaze me.

  3. Alfonse's was just one of the "water holes" for people in animation. I can remembering having lunch there with co-workers from Hanna Barbera. Two other places that were frequented by the animation crowd were the Far EastTerrace near Universal and the Blarney Stone. Sadly all are gone now along with the many who "drank " their lunches there.

    1. I lived on Laurel Hills Rd,1962. my friends and I would bike to Hanna-Barbera on Cahuenga, on the weekend, and carry off as many cels from the dumpsters we could carry! On the way we passed another famous old restaurant- “Johnny LaRues” on Ventura Bl. One Sunday I begged mom to drive her 1963 white w/red interior convertible Chevy Impala to H-B, and loaded her trunk with THOUSANDS of cels, and about a hundred feet of coiled cardboard hand-painted background! Also a 35mm loop of Fred in a TV cereal commercial. Like an idiot, I threw away most when I joined the Navy in 1981, and cleared out my old room at mom’s. Fortunately I saved the most incredible cel “package” I ever found. It was Fred Flintstone holding the trunk of an elephant spewing water, using it as a firehouse to put out a fire! There were about 25cels all stapled together. (I could never figure out why, the ones we found were always single cels). Unfortunately, in 1994, when I was a flight instructor at NAS Pensacola FL, I evacuated my beach house during a hurricane, making sure to put my best cels under the front seat of my car. As I left my home, the seawater had risen to about 2 feet. When I got to my hotel I noticed the Fred/elephant cels were soaked!! Dabbing them with a washcloth, I discovered cels use water-based colors!! WHAT A TRAGIC WASTE THAT WAS!!

    2. Thanks for sharing your stories. Too bad about the Flintstone cels.
      I general, cels are not easy to keep. They need to be stored in cool temperatured rooms, and still, often the paint comes off.
      That's why Disney only kept a few cels from their films.

  4. There is a quick glimpse of Diana Prince driving by Alfonse's in season 2 episode "IRAC Is Missing" of Wonder Woman. I also see Coast Federal Savings and Barone's Pizza signs in the background.

    Robert Alvarez, you mentioned the Far East Terrace and that shows up in A Rockford Files episode "Joey Blue Eyes."

  5. Wonderful Andreas! Alfo's was indeed, a very special place... slight edit to the story: I was not the one that came up with the Dinosaur Lunch, it had been going on since the forties. Herb Ryman first took me there, with encouragement to bring other young talent that would appreciate the gang, the stings (liquid courage) and banter... Truly halcyon days, they were! Best Always... Andrea Favilli