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THE FAMED NEW ORLEANS CHEF and restaurateur, Emeril Lagasse, visited the Tam O’Shanter in January. He brought along a camera crew to film the restaurant for the first episode of his new television show, “The Originals,” soon to air on the Cooking Channel.
In the series, chef Emeril will take viewers to unique restaurants across the nation that have storied histories, have stood the test of time, and are still popular with patrons today.
We are delighted he chose the Tam as the first restaurant to be filmed, and if I do say so myself, his choice couldn’t have hit the nail more squarely on the head. The Tam truly is an original. Opened almost 90 years ago by my father and uncle, it was our company’s first restaurant.
stood the test of time, and are still popular with patrons today
Today, we believe, it is the oldest in Los Angeles operated continuously by its original family owners in its original location. From the start, it has been a singular kind of place with an almost storybook look to it, filled with cozy nooks and crannies, Scottish décor and memorabilia from Los Angeles’ early days.
It’s often been a place for new ideas; for example, in the 1930s it was, for a time, the nation’s first drive-in restaurant.
Its food, too, has always been innovative—from the recipe my dad invented for the high quality, delicious hamburgers that starred on the first menus, to the signature Lawry’s prime rib that has long been the Tam’s most popular dish, to the bright, fresh seasonal plates my grandson (representing the fourth generation of our family), Ryan O’Melveny Wilson, our company’s corporate executive chef, created recently for the restaurant—our goal has been to put an exciting new spin on American comfort food.
the Tam was one of Walt Disney’s favorite restaurants
And, of course, there’s the Tam’s celebrity connection. In the 1920s, with silent-movie studios just blocks away and directors like Mack Sennett filming in nearby Griffith Park, the era’s stars flocked to the restaurant at lunchtime.
On any day, one might have seen Rudolph Valentino, Fatty Arbuckle, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and other luminaries feasting on the Tam’s hamburgers in full costume and makeup.
In the 1940s and until his death, the Tam was one of Walt Disney’s favorite restaurants. He and his crew of animators came in so often they jokingly nicknamed the Tam their “studio commissary.” In later years, John Wayne and Casey Stengel were frequent guests.
it has been a singular kind of place with an almost storybook look to it
Today we continue to welcome many sports and political notables, as well as stars including Tom Hanks, Dick Van Dyke and Vince Vaughn.
Chef Emeril had a busy day with us. He turned out to be a pretty cool guy—modest, with a ready smile and a genuine, enthusiastic curiosity about the restaurant. He tasted and commented on our menu, spent time talking chef-to-chef with my grandson Ryan and joined him in cooking some of the restaurant’s signature dishes. He also spoke with me and long-time members of the Tam’s staff and interviewed some of our guests. He raved about what he’d discovered and told us the Tam had far exceeded his expectations.
It seems the Tam has a new fan, and the feeling is definitely mutual.
From the desk of Richard N. Frank
2980 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039