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:


4 comments:

  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 …

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    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.

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

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  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.

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