Turning 50 in Hollywood is a dangerous proposition in a town where 20 is the new 30, but West Hollywood landmark restaurant Dan Tana’s hit that golden milestone with the energy of Justin Bieber and the old school moves of many patrons in attendance who were there on opening day back when Lyndon Johnson was president and the Burton-Taylor romance was the talk of the town.
The characteristically laconic veteran character actor Harry Dean Stanton, a Dan Tana habitué from day one, did not disappoint when asked about Dan Tana’s back in the 1970s heyday of the New Hollywood when Tana’s was the place to be seen. “That was a long time ago” muttered Stanton who took up a seat at the front door and a long drag off his cigarette.
In the midst of the packed throngs, if you looked closely you’d see Angie Dickinson, Mace Neufeld, Kevin Connolly, Nicollette Sheridan, Alex Pettyfer, producer Gabrielle Tana, and Steve Tisch, and there in the center of it all was the original owner Dan Tana himself and new Tana’s owner Sonja Perencevic, who appears to have impressed both regulars and newcomers with her ability over the past few years of her ownership to maintain both the standards and vibes that remain unchanged through the decades.
While hundreds of guests slugged away at drinks and dug into mountains of Tana’s customarily tasty culinary treats on the red carpet wrapping around the eatery, denizens inside were treated to bartender Michael Gotovac‘s perfectly prepared drinks and carefully cultivated surliness.
A reference to a regular from 40 years ago elicited a Gotovac grunt and gruff “Who the eff is that?” while Gotovac, who’s been behind the Tana bar for over 45 years, never missed a beat with the bottles and glasses.
Actor-director Charles Martin Smith took the more genial approach to the evening, reminiscing about his early days at Tana’s and in the movies of the 70s with actors like Stanton, Lee Marvin, Harrison Ford, Jeff Bridges, Robert DeNiro et al. He marveled at the changes in the business and the durability of Tana’s. “The business doesn’t make movies like those any more but Tana’s hasn’t changed. Maybe that’s why we’re all here tonight.”
(Pictured at top: Sonja Perencevic and Dan Tana at the 50th Anniversary Party of Dan Tana’s Restaurant)