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Tommy Lasorda Delivers a Pep Talk at His Ribs and Pasta Restaurant

February 26, 1987|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

"I tell the Dodger players that we have a commitment to the fans to give them exciting and winning baseball," he said, in almost reverential tones. "Well, I want to have the same traditions here. I hope that people will want to come into the restaurant 'cause I enjoy good food and this place will provide it to everyone else.

"I didn't put my name on this place to make money--I don't need the money if you know what I mean. I did it because I want people to have service that is outstanding along with quality food."

Lasorda even extends the welcome mat to all his National League adversaries when they are in town as the visiting team in Dodger Stadium. That invitation also applies to the World Series champion New York Mets, whose recent appearances in Chavez Ravine have sparked a new rivalry.

All Teams Are Welcome

"Sure, I want the Mets to come here to eat. All the teams are welcome," he said.

Lasorda had no problem being peppered about baseball and food, his two favorite topics. During the nonstop discussions, it was pointed out that one of his passions, oysters-on-the-half-shell, were omitted from the menu.

When the subject came up, Lasorda slipped into one of his anecdotes about great eating sessions.

"Oysters? Did someone say oysters? Hey, I ate 500 oysters in three days once. Don't worry, we'll have oysters-on-the-half-shell here sometime," he said.

The idea of shellfish then brought to mind the topic of sushi. Lasorda said he would be out of town for some time during spring training, but that when he returned he was going to Little Toyko in downtown Los Angeles for another consumption milestone.

"Did you know I ate 62 pieces of raw tuna one night?" he asked the assembled crowd. "When I come back I'm going for the new record. I'm going to eat 100 pieces of tuna. That's right, 100 pieces."

There was some discussion as to whether Lasorda ate the raw fish in the sashimi style (without rice) or in the sushi style that features each piece of fish atop a small cluster of rice.

"That was with the rice, 62 pieces of tuna sushi with the rice. Come on, anyone can eat 62 pieces without the rice," he said, slightly offended that someone might question his eating prowess.

Several of those in attendance talked about whether having a restaurant might change Lasorda's style.

Different Food at Clubhouse

Dodger third baseman, Bill Matlock, said there might be a difference in the types, but not the quantities, of food that are regularly delivered to the team's clubhouse before and after each game. These pre- and postgame meals are rituals inaugurated and presided over by Lasorda.

"There may be less burgers and more ribs and pasta this season," Matlock said. "But then again, knowing Tommy, he's already getting all that food free from the other restaurants anyway. So, he'll probably keep that coming. And that way he'll get away with ordering a little less from here. Because if he orders food from his own restaurant then, I guess, he has to pay for it. But who knows, he doesn't pay for anything anywhere."

Another third baseman, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals, was also at the opening and thought that Lasorda would do well in the restaurant business.

"As many people as Tommy knows, he should be real successful," said Brett, who speaks with experience considering his part ownership of C. J. Brett's restaurant in Hermosa Beach. "With his personality--it's perfect for him."

Amid all the congratulations, a few words of caution were expressed by Lasorda's wife, Jo.

"I hope (the restaurant) doesn't make him any busier than he is now, but it may make him happier," she said. "If he does start spending a lot of time here then I'll be with him."

So, will Lasorda spend too much time at his own restaurant?

"I'll come down here on the way to the ballpark," he said. "But during the season, not too much. Maybe after the games, I will."

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