Today is the birthday of Al Levy (April 25, 1860-March 24, 1941). He was born in Liverpool, England, but made his mark in Hollywood, California. He was a “notable L.A.-based Restauranteur, owner and operator of Al Levy’s Tavern in Hollywood and Al Levy’s Grill in Downtown L.A. in the 1930s and 40s. [He was also] credited with creating the Oyster Cocktail.”
This is how his carer began, according to the Jewish Museum of the American West:
Levy’s first job was at the Techau Tavern, a famous San Francisco restaurant, where he rose from errand boy, to dishwasher, to chef.
After opening two restaurants with partners who ran off with the money, Al Levy was advised to go to Los Angeles where the tempo was slower, and where there were no quality restaurants.
His first L.A. place was this pushcart, but it did well enough to establish himself and move to a permanent location, The Oyster House.
Eventually, Levy was able to open his Oyster House on Fifth and String Streets, later the site of the Alexandria Hotel.
His second and larger restaurant, located at Third and Main Streets, became a center of fashionable night life in 1906.
It was the finest such institution in Los Angeles. Each table had its own telephone, and the chandeliers were all of the finest crystal.
Al Levy’s restaurant consisted of four stories: the kitchen and main dining room were on the first floor; the second floor had booths for two, three, and four diners; the third floor had banquet rooms for smaller groups; the fourth floor had the large banquet/ballroom, and included the cart from which Al Levy had peddled oysters during his first years in Los Angeles.
But it was his third place, Al Levy’s Tavern, located at 1623 North Vine Street, that was his most famous, was huge during the heyday of old Hollywood
Lots of famous people and celebrities spent time at Al Levy’s Tavern, it was, after all, “The Fun Center of Hollywood Life!”
The Daily Mirror has a great article about Levy and his legacy entitled Hollywood Heights: Al Levy’s Tavern Toasts 1930s Hollywood, by Mary Mallory.