Real World Locations of Vintage Car Ads – Fine Dining Edition

Some of my favorite Curbside Classic posts are those that show the real-world locations of vintage car ads, such as the world travel ads posted by Eric703 this past summer.

In that same spirit, let’s take a look at the famous restaurants featured in 1950’s Cadillac advertisements.


Let’s start out with this 1956 Cadillac ad shot outside the famous Romanoff’s restaurant on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. From 1941 to 1962, Romanoff’s was the place to see and be seen in Hollywood.

“Prince” Michael Romanoff


Romanoff’s was founded by Lithuanian immigrant Harry Gerguson. If you’ve never heard of Gerguson, that is understandable. He is better known by his nom de guerre, Prince Michael Dimitri Alexandrovich Obolensky-Romanoff, or just Michael Romanoff for short. As you no doubt already surmised, Romanoff was a bit of a character, and one of his many outlandish claims was being descended from Russian royalty (he wasn’t) hence the “Prince” Michael Romanoff appellation. Romanoff was also known to prefer the company of his dog to that of his elite clientele.

Where it all began


The original Romanoff’s restaurant, opened in 1941 at 340 N. Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, was a surprisingly humble affair. Still, that didn’t stop the likes of Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Humphrey Bogart from making it a Hollywood hot spot.

Michael Romanoff and Humphrey Bogart (sans tie) in 1952.


Bogie, by the way, regularly refused to comply with the restaurant’s dress code and not wear a necktie.

Romanoff Center, opened in 1951.


Fads are notoriously fickle, and by 1950 foot traffic to Romanoff’s had fallen off substantially. In an effort to recapture Romanoff’s old glory, in 1951 Romanoff opened a new facility at 140 South Rodeo Drive, at a cost of $200,000 (about $2.6 million adjusted). The “Romanoff Center” features not just his eponymous restaurant, but a separate bar, a banquet room, a rooftop garden, and even a gift shop. It is the zebra-striped façade of this new building that is featured in the 1956 Cadillac ad.

So, at least for a while, Romanoff’s was back on top. This iconic photo of Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield? Shot at Romanoff’s new location in 1957. Still, Romanoff’s quirkiness would be his eventual undoing. His ultra-conservative political leanings (Romanoff supposedly foisted pamphlets on his customers along with the menus) and friendship with J. Edgar Hoover did him no favors in liberal-leaning Hollywood, and as a result the massive Romanoff Center became increasingly hard to fill. Romanoff’s closed its doors forever on December 31, 1962.

The Romanoff Center lived on as a nightclub for a while longer, but it suffered the same issues under successive owners that it did under Romanoff – it was too large and too difficult to profitably fill. (It was also featured on the cover of Boz Scaggs’ 1977 Down Two Then Left album).

Today, the Romanoff Center has long since been demolished, and 140 South Rodeo Drive doesn’t even exist anymore (the street numbering goes straight from 132 to 150). In its place are some rather generic-looking (especially for Beverly Hills) mixed-use office/residential buildings.


The other hot restaurant we are looking is Perino’s, as featured in this 1959 Cadillac ad.

Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives.


Perino’s was formed by Alex Perino in 1932 on 3927 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Much like Romanoff’s, Perino’s relocated over the years.

Herman Schultheis, Security Pacific Collection/Los Angeles Public Library.


In 1950, Perino’s moved to its new location on 4101 Wiltshire Boulevard (formerly the site of a Thriftmart grocery store), which is the location featured in the 1959 Cadillac Ad.

The transformation wrought by architect Paul R. Williams is pretty remarkable. The new Perino’s, featuring a New Orleans-style canopy (clearly visible in the Cadillac ad) even earned a spread in Architectural Digest magazine.

In 1954, a fire caused by a lit cigarette left on a chair (seriously, how did that not happen all the time?) destroyed much of the interior of the restaurant. It reopened in 1955 even larger and more luxurious than before, with a larger main dining room and two new private rooms.

Alex Perino would sell the restaurant in 1969, which kicked off its long decline. In 1986, after several attempts to relaunch, the Perino’s closed for good, and the building would sit in disuse for several decades. The building, once featured in Architectural Digest, had become an eyesore.

In 2005, the Perino’s restaurant building was demolished and replaced with an apartment complex. Unlike Romanoff’s, there are still vestiages of the old Perino’s in the new building. The apartment building retain the Perino’s name, and the façade of the building is suggestive of the grand awning at the original restaurant (albeit minus the ironwork).