Not being trendy is actually a trend in itself. Dan Tana's on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, CA is an Italian restaurant that prefers to keep the same ambiance and aura that it has had since it opened in 1964. This is a part of its charm, and that has made it a favorite of many locals as well as a new favorite to newcomers. Knowing some of the history of Dan Tana's helps customers realize why keeping the restaurant/bar the same over the decades is so important.
How It All Began
Dan Tana was a Yugoslavian soccer player who had started the entire idea. Naming the restaurant after himself, it started off slow but steady in 1964. With a Rat Pack theme and a delicious menu, the icon set the stage for success. Dan Tana kept the kitchen open until 12:30 a.m., allowing people to have a late night meal. Other restaurants were closing earlier, giving the Dan Tana the edge with this great marketing strategy.
When the Troubadour was built in the '70's, the Dan Tana skyrocketed in sales, being the "hot spot" to go after a show. With famous performers such as Elton John, Cat Stevens, and Van Morrison playing nearby, the restaurant was always a late night hit after the music ended. During the following years, it became popular with celebrities, and many a night you could see a famous star mingling with the neighborhood regulars. With a laid-back atmosphere and décor reminiscent of the Sinatra era, it has an easy-going feel that many enjoy.
Celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Angie Dickenson, Johnny Carson, Harry Dean Stanton, and Jack Nicholson have all been regulars over the years, and several others have joined in along the years. Being right down the road from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences helps keep the culture alive in the area, and the clientele show it. The seventeen tables of the Dan Tana are booked nightly, so it is best to call for a reservation if you happen to be in the area.
Keeping the History
This atmosphere lives on today, with current owner Sonja Perencevic running the show, seasoned chef Neno Mladenovic serving up specialties that have not changed since the doors have opened, and head bartender Michael Gotovac mixing up the beverages. Walking through the doors of the Dan Tana will instantly put you back to another era, a time when music and the big screen were in everyone's mind and the fun of going out for a leisurely dinner with your friends or family was part of your normal routine.
From the red and white checkered tablecloths to the Chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling, the Italian feel and flare has not changed in decades. The menu still boasts favorites such as calamari fritti, chicken Parmesan, and Italian spaghetti and meatballs. The clientele is getting a bit younger, with actors and actresses of the next generation joining in with their predecessors. This doesn't mean the aura will change, however. It is just being shared with new people. Not being trendy is a trend in itself.