This is a very Dickensian Christmas story about a cruel landlord willing to take away the soul of a society for a few shekels more. The closing of the Cat and Fiddle Pub is a huge loss for our community. For 32 years, this historical place in the heart of Hollywood served as a home away from home for expats and patriots alike.
I used to go to the Cat and Fiddle in Laurel Canyon back when I first arrived in Los Angeles in 1976. It was a wonderful place to be. The pub was always filled with rock stars, famous actors, and people who loved art and film and music. You could play darts, eat dinner and socialize. People were born, people died, people became friends and lovers, people married and people divorced. Entire cycles of life happened there.
This year was their 32nd anniversary in the Hollywood location. Now, thanks to the gentrification of Hollywood (aka ripoff of Hollywood), they have lost their lease. A franchise came in with an offer that was too good for the son of the owner to refuse. It is said that the Cat and Fiddle actually read that they had lost their lease online — what a way to go.
The Cat & Fiddle is located on the Sunset Strip in the original location of some of the scenes in the movie Casablanca. It has a beautiful patio where we spent our sunniest days and a fireplace for the cold nights. All this love was given to us by Tim and Paula Gardner, who had all of their children while they were building the restaurant. Ashley, Camille and Eva worked there as well as their parents. Kim was a wonderful man who died a few years ago. He had been a member of the Birds with Eric Clapton, and played jazz every Sunday. I had the honor of playing chess with him for 26 years. He introduced me to some of the biggest rock stars in the world. Everybody came to see him. Everybody was at home there. We were all one big happy family.
Sunday was closing night. We listened to beautiful South American music as we said our farewells. The place was packed the day before. All the Santas from Santa Con showed up for a healthy and vivacious send off.
Yes, the Cat is looking for a new location. It will be the third generation of the Cat and Fiddle, and I’m sure it will be as brilliant as the other two generations have been. I’m sure we’ll all be back for more. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, the Cat and Fiddle is having an estate sale that will continue through the 23rd of December. We are selling all of the Cat’s precious mementos because the new Cat will be all new. Be sure to come down and pick up something to remind you of the good times that you’ve had at this location. Hours are noon to 6 Monday thru this Friday. Come and soak up what’s left of one of the greatest restaurants in Los Angeles. The Cat and Fiddle wishes to thank you all for being part of the family history.
PS Kim Gardner’s ghost is going to have a field day with the new owners. Everyone knows the place is haunted…