How does a Catskills comic-era social club founded by Milton Berle transform itself into one of L.A.’s hottest nightlife destinations? With scantily clad go-go dancers and lox-topped mini pizzas, apparently.
After decades of hosting filet-and-bourbon lunches and Rat Pack-reminiscent roasts, The Friars of Beverly Hills is rebranding itself for a new generation of Hollywood trendsetters. Following a multi-million dollar renovation by owner Darren Schaeffer—the son of Friars’ president Irwin—the previously member’s-only establishment unveiled its updated look last week at a red-carpet soiree organized in part by Urban Legend PR and advertising and branding agency Omelet. Scores of partygoers far more fashionable than AdFreak basked in the club’s New Hollywood chic, complete with flashing searchlights and shimmying dancers in raised Lucite cages. VIPs sipped butler-served Stoli elit vodka and mingled with celebs like Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Jeffrey Ross, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Jeremy Piven. And then there was AdFreak hoovering near a small cluster of longtime members beneath oil paintings of past show-biz luminaries. "Used to be more people in the kitchen than in the dining room," said one bewildered attendee, as if channelling Don Rickles. Now, the upscale-casual main dining room is open to the public, and the formerly austere Cigar Lounge is outfitted with an air purification system and a direct-from-the-beach sand floor. We left inspired by the crowd, the decor, the menu, the vision. But if we were to channel our favorite Catskills-era comic? "Take these go-go dancers—please."
—Posted by Randi Schmelzer