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"The Ritz," Hollywood Blvd.

j
Jennifer M. Jun 1, 2001 01:49 PM

I have worked in Hollywood for almost 6 years, and anyone familiar with the limited selection of good, quick cheap lunch food on Hollywood Boulevard will understand this and probably has had the same experience...Then came a truly startling development. A fancy sandwich place a block and a half from the office? In the Ritz Theater? We heard that it was run by the daughter of Michelle Lamy (of Les Deux, right behind it), "Scarlet Rouge."

The first encounters with the place were strange but intriguing enough to keep us coming back (I think we took their only copy of the handmade menu - whoops). The sandwiches have been delicious. But the first salad I had there was so strong (the greens) and underdressed that I felt like I was eating grass clippings. Then the salads quickly became really excellent and fragrant! Recently, though, it got to the point where one of my colleages wasn't given a salad, on a day when someone else got a salad that was just balsamic vinegar haphazardly splashed on the greens when she requested one. Weird. What happened to the young Asian man who was the chef? He was the only person there in whom I had any confidence!

There were a few days when we walked down there at lunch time and there was no food (around noon!). Then we'd call ahead and ask if they had food today and get this indignant answer, well of COURSE we have FOOD.

The counter has been staffed by young women (one of whom must have been this Scarlet, but since none had a vaguely proprietary air about her, it was tough to tell) showing varying degrees of spaciness and providing painfully slow/unprofessional service. Over the past months, we've identified like eight different people working there.

But now things seem to have stabilized. I went in a few weeks ago and asked for croissants and they didn't have them, but I was stunned when this new woman said, "but we have other things, I could make you some oatmeal, or eggs.." This was a new attitude! She's now there every morning (I look in as I drive by!). However, a few days later when I did go back for a croissant they were not the same ones that I'd had during the terrible-service era (she couldn't even pick up the little box and hand it to me? I had to reach over a box of vegetables to her side of the counter to pick it up myself when I saw that she was going to just walk away!), which had been truly exceptional. And I have to say, this new woman is very nice, but it took her FOREVER to give me two croissants, struggling with huge lengths of twisted plastic wrap (I need my croissant wrapped in plastic!?), putting them into this huge grocery bag, giving me (very good) coffee with mis-sized lids, it was a mess!

So what is the story? New ownership? Then how do I explain why Michelle Lamy was in there dropping off vegetables one morning (the day of the croissant vs. plastic wrap debacle)? I haven't been there in a few weeks. I think I'm afraid to see what the future holds. But I love this place, despite it all, and want it to stay! I am so thrilled that there's anything new, individual, and quirky on the Boulevard, with good food!! Are there others who share our love/hate obsession with this place? Or have some clue as to how to explain the weirdness??

  1. s
    Samo Jun 1, 2001 06:49 PM

    Yours is a very amusing, colorful account. But Jennifer, really, couldn't you just ask the folks at the sandwich counter all the questions posed here? You'd be doing us all a great favor. And please post whatever you learn.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Samo
      j
      Jessica Ritz Jun 1, 2001 10:32 PM

      I too was excited to see The Ritz on Hollywood, and not just for the obvious reason. The novelty of the numerous businesses and products to which I am not heir wore off the minute I learned to read and write my name. Anyway, I've wondered what's up with that place. The management seems to be quite haphazard (if at all marginally existent), so I understand why Jennifer posed these questions to the board...

      First of all, the juxtaposition of this semi-hip storefront tucked into a former theater that’s been converted into a funky Spanish language church sets the tone. Kind of the past, present, and possible future of Hollywood Boulevard all strangely rolled into one.

      The very friendly woman staffing the counter was quite frazzled the one time I ventured in--and there was only one other customer ahead of me! No menu in sight, she just asked what I wanted and made lovely sandwich with simply prepared and excellent grilled vegetables. Not extraordinary, but certainly far more than serviceable considering the location and other options. I was a bit surprised at the price ($7) because it came without any sort of side companion. The randomness of the place struck me; several of the ingredients (the cheeses in the case, olive spread, etc.) were either obviously store bought and still in their jars, or displayed with the Trader Joe’s price tag still affixed! It’s almost as if I decided to open a sandwich shop and stopped at TJ’s in the morning to pick up my provisions. I had some concerns about the sanitary practices, as she didn’t wear gloves or wash her hands in between handling money and food. Despite the many idiosyncrasies there is some promising potential. I hope they get it together, and will check back in a few weeks.

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