Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Happy 100th Birthday to Musso & Frank

You probably already know Musso and Frank Grill, Hollywood's oldest restaurant (one of greater LA's oldest restaurants, period), is turning 100.

Did you know the founder was French?

Musso and Frank Grill was originally Frank's, or Francois, Cafe, founded in 1919 by Firmin "Frank" Toulet.

Musso and Frank when it was still called Francois
Hollywood was just a few years into its metamorphosis from a quiet, semi-rural backwater into the film capital of the world. With no other eateries for miles (René Blondeau had passed away 17 years earlier), and with a sophisticated atmosphere that moviemakers loved, Frank's business boomed, and he moved into the larger building next door (the original restaurant space is now Cabo Cantina). 

In 1922, Frank brought in Joseph Musso as a business partner, and they changed the restaurant's name to Musso and Frank. The following year, the menu was overhauled by Jean Rue, a Limoges native and a veteran of the French navy. The menu has seen few, if any, changes since. 

Frank Toulet and Joseph Musso sold the business in 1927. It isn't clear what Frank did after selling his half of the restaurant. As for Jean Rue, he stayed on as head chef until his death in 1976.

Frank Toulet's death notice
Los Angeles Times, January 3, 1941
On January 31, 1941, a few weeks after Frank's death, the "Confidential Communiqués" section of the San Pedro News Pilot stated, in part, "...Frank Toulet (former owner of Musso-Franks cafe): It was nice to hear your boost for actors the other night, when you revealed that you advanced them $15,000 credit - and got back all but $200..."

Firmin "Frank" Toulet is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.

P.S. If you're about to comment "why didn't you contact Musso and Frank?"...I tried. I contacted Musso and Frank Grill for this entry six months ago. Their publicist said she would get back to me. I emailed her again. She no longer worked for the restaurant. I emailed Musso and Frank again and never did get a response. However, I understand they've been quite busy with their anniversary, in addition to "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" significantly boosting business, so there are no hard feelings.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. The history seems to be a little cloudy and the present owners don't seem to have any particular handle on it. Toulet seems to have opened the establishment with Robert Prechacq [], who must have been some relation to his wife Helen (née Prechacq, who lived until 1995). Robert Prechacq seems also to have at least one restaurant in LA prior to this.[]