James N. Kitchens, bartender who worked 50 years at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Beverly Hilton and the Hotel Bel-Air, died Saturday Aug. 24 of heart failure at Sherman Oaks Hospital. He was 78.
Arkansas native settled in Hollywood after WWII service in the Navy. He began as a bar boy at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1947, moved to the Crystal Room and later the Polo Lounge. In 1961 he was promoted to bar manager, where frequent guests included Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Howard Hughes and John Wayne.
He began a 15-year stint at the Hotel Bel-Air in 1972. Promoted to bar manager a few years later, he invented the Bel-Air Royale (a flute of champagne topped with a splash of peach schnapps and one slice of fresh peach) with his assistant, Jose Martin del Campo.
Kitchens joined the Beverly Hilton in 1988 and remained there until his retirement in 1995.
He is survived by wife Mary, two daughters, three sisters and two brothers.