"People have been asking me to open again," says Roy Silver, "but I've always said, 'No, not interested in working seven nights a week.' Besides, they never had a check in their hands when they asked."
But fans of Silver's restaurant, Roy's on Sunset Boulevard (1976-1982), will be happy to hear that he has come out of restaurant retirement and brought back the American-Chinese food he was famous for . . . drunken shrimp . . . pork-fried rice . . . Sichuan noodles.
Silver fell in love with Chinese food in Hong Kong while he was managing Bill Cosby during the shooting of the television series "I Spy." When he came back to California, he retired from show business and opened up a restaurant in the old John Barrymore house on Sunset. When you sat down you were handed a deck of oversized Tarot cards--it was the menu.
"Things were wild in those days. The record industry execs had big expense accounts, and all the big stars that came into town stopped in . . . we didn't stop taking orders until 2 a.m. Those were the days when cocaine was cute, no one had died from it. We used to play the music real loud--one of our favorites was Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive.' I played it recently for one of my old customers, and a guy at the bar started crying."
The bar Silver refers to is the one at Shain's in Sherman Oaks. "I asked my old friend Don Shain to rent me his restaurant for one night a week, so now it's Roy's at Shain's on Thursday nights only. I come into a continental restaurant and in a couple of hours change the kitchen to make hot-and-sour and Sichuan noodles. It's strictly my food, my music, my ambience and my old customers."
This time around there are no Tarot cards . . . but almost everything else from the old Roy's is there. The prix-fixe meal is $40 per person. "I'm not looking looking to break people in," says Silver. "I just want all my old customers back. . . ." For reservations call (818) 769-3223.
ON THE SKYLINE: University Restaurant Group (Ocean Avenue Seafood, I. Cugini, 555 East) is hoping to make a few waves on the downtown dining scene with its latest venture, Water Grill. It opens June 10 in the Pacific Mutual Building at 523 West 6th St. The menu, which will change daily, features fresh seafood from all U.S. waters, with a strong selection from the Pacific Northwest. Prices will range from about $15 to $40 per person. Water Grill also boasts the only oyster bar in downtown Los Angeles.
Il Fornaio will also debut downtown soon. The Italian chain is scheduled to open in the First Interstate Tower on 5th Street during the first week of August. The small cafe will serve simple dishes such as soups, sandwiches and little pizzas--to eat in or take out. There will also be a kiosk where people on their way into the office can pick up cappuccino and pastry.
CHANGES: The 17-year-old St. Moritz Restaurant on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City has undergone a face lift. New owners have given the restaurant an airy new look (lots of white latticework and a garden patio) and are now serving lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. . . . Mario's Cooking for Friends, a restaurant/deli/market that specializes in Italian food on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, is now offering full-service terrace dining Thursday through Saturday from 6 to 10:30 p.m. . . . Santa Barbara's Wine Cask Restaurant, known in wine circles for its great wine list, has undergone a major renovation and expansion and is scheduled to reopen Memorial Day weekend. Jeff Vinion (who cooked at both Michael's and Tosh in Santa Monica) has been hired to create a new menu.