It’s not like you could argue that “it’s all for the best and it’s now gone to a better place”. If there is such a thing as heaven I imagine it’s pretty crowded already without closed restaurants and Montgomery Wards and muffler shops.
But it’s sad just the same.
Anna’s Italian restaurant on Pico Blvd. in West Los Angeles closed Sunday after 37 years of operation. The owners, Tony and Andy sold it to someone who is converting it to something else. I wish Tony and Andy both a long happy prosperous retirement. And at least they sold it and made a nice profit. Tony Soprano didn’t have to burn it down.
Anna’s was very much your neighborhood Italian joint. Homey red leather booths, caricatures of the waiters (many of whom have been there for over twenty years), the horrible Sinatra duets album playing (by that point I don’t think he even knew who the artists were he was singing with), and reasonable prices. Oh, and the food was delicious. They had a minestrone soup that was thick and unlike any other. Great sauces, great pizza, an anti pasta assortment in big wooden compartmentalized plates – what more could you want for God sakes?
When my partner David and I were on MASH, Alan Alda joined us one night for a rewrite. We got done about 8:30. David and I were diving for the Excedrin bottle but Alan was all revved up. So he suggested we go out to dinner at Annas’, which was about a mile from the studio. Anna’s had a good wine selection too (I learned that night).
Shortly thereafter TV GUIDE did a profile on Alan. In it he mentions that rewrite night and dinner at Anna’s. A few weeks later when the issue came out, Tony and Andy were blown away that their little restaurant was mentioned by name in a national magazine. From that day on I was like a God over there.
I’d walk in, Tony would greet me, remember my name, immediately show me to a table, and come around from time to time just to make sure everything was perfect. If you’re Jack Nicholson, that must happen to you in every restaurant you ever enter (except in Boston). For me, it was just this one.
Partly I guess I’m mourning just another reminder of the passage of time. Things we take for granted that will always be there suddenly are gone. I’m sure where you live a favorite haunt or store has gone away. I’m not a big believer in the afterlife – especially when it comes to commercial businesses. But someday, somewhere, I hope to order minestrone soup, take one sip, glance up to the heavens, and know that somewhere in the Great Beyond Anna’s is indeed there, watching over me, wanting to know if I want extra cheese.
Anna’s restaurant 1973-2010 Close in Peace,