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So Long, Farewell, Adieu to the Garden Bistro--Maybe

May 05, 1996|MARY LOU LOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Bistro Garden's sentimental farewell last Sunday in Beverly Hills was steeped in the joy of friendship and memories.

And it seemed perfect that Robert and Kelly Day should host the closing night with founders-owners Kurt and Chris Niklas. After all, the Garden was the favorite restaurant of Robert Day's mother, the late Willametta Keck Day, and her best friend, Dickey Dell Doheny Washington. The duo lunched there or at the Bistro six days a week after Romanoff's closed (where Kurt Niklas had been maitre d'). As the invitation to 200 noted, Kelly and Robert Day had their first date at the Bistro Garden, as well as their wedding reception, Robert's 50th birthday bash, Kelly's 40th and Christmas luncheons.

The black-tie affair brought out the billionaires, including Marvin and Barbara Davis and Donald Bren with Brigette Mueller. The Reagan friends (the ladies lunched regularly) were all there--Marion and Earle Jorgensen, Betty and William Wilson, Mary Jane and Charlie Wick, Jean Smith with Ross Barrett and Carolyn and Henry Singleton. Almost all the women were in white silk pantsuits, the exception Betsy Bloomingdale, who came in gray lace befitting her black pearls, escorted by Joseph Hannan. Also there were Jane Gosden, and Michael and Susie Niven.

Said Robert Day (noting there were "200 prima donnas" in the room), "I asked to have Mother's friends for my table and Dickey is at my right." He said he chose the rather heavy osso buco entree "because we wanted to make sure none of you stopped at McDonald's on the way home."

The beautiful Kelly Day, in sapphires and a shoulder-clinging sapphire-blue Fred Hayman gown, sparkled at the center of the dance floor, with her husband's youngest daughter, Didi.

But some just wanted to absorb the Garden's ambience--the French wallpaper scenes, the chandeliers--because they're due to be ripped out for the new Spago.

Kurt Niklas thanked the Days and the guests--mostly chosen for their love of the restaurant--for their gracious support and "for letting us go out not with a whimper but a bang."

In various stages of reminiscing were Peter and Kacey McCoy, Patrick and Patty Doheny, Onnalee and William Doheny, Will and Libby Doheny, Fabienne and Rick Guerin, Gary Wilson and Barbera Thornhill, Wendy Stark and John Morrissey, and Jayne and Henry Berger. More: Brad Freeman, Stuart and Carrie Ketchum, Dody and Otis Booth, Joanna Carson with Nolan Miller, James Galanos, Tom and Ruth Jones, Armand Deutsch, and Don and Judi Tallarico.

So, where will the Bistro Garden lunch group go now? Likely possibilities--the Peninsula, the Ivy, the Grill, Le Dome, L'Orangerie. Takes time to settle in. Or, the Bistro Garden will be reincarnated, we hear.

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Big Nights: Hollywood Park opened to Night Racing glamour with a crowd including R.D. Hubbard, Spud and Alyce Williamson, John and Jeanie Cushman, Joni and Clark Smith, and Mary and Boyd Marshall.

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Floral Splendor: The unparalleled beauty of flowers at Floriade IV's premiere party hosted by the Friends of Banning Park will long be remembered in the Southland. What these florists can't do with flowers!

At the party for more than 350, the Banning Residence and its barn were unforgettable. Stanley Kersten transformed string beans into chandeliers and garlands. Jacob Maarse turned a Victorian love seat into a mass of pink roses. Millefleur draped hydrangeas on the bedstead. Whitegate created a quilt of red flowers. Mary Louise Crowe surveyed the balcony of Banning with its flowered rugs and wedding cake, and proclaimed, "I've never seen so much dogwood." In the Stagecoach Barn, Susan Niven draped the wheels of a turn-of-the-century brougham with peonies, roses, tulle and the pink gown she wore last year to the Assembly Ball. Ed Turrentine's wondrously Ali Baba look mixed bronze monkeys with Moorish silk gauze and calendulas and tea roses.

Lynn Brengel, in pink glittery Escada, headed the ball for Floriade chairman Lyn Miller. And gala-goers turned out in a riot of flowery color. Janey Mercer of Rolling Hills ruffled by in Ungaro flowered silk. Hilary Clark swayed in a strapless floral cotton. Also looking pretty: Kathy Darnell, Marion Scharffenberger, Gail Ellis and Pam Clyne (in a pink Oscar de la Renta outfit).

Alice O'Neill Avery was honorary chairwoman. She and Nancy Call, attending with husband Dr. Richard Call, linked arms to marvel at the show. More eating and dining: Frani (announcing her son Jay Ackerman's engagement) and Dan Ridder, Ed and Brooke Garlock, and Walt and Kathy Rose (she staged the Floriade's three days of seminars, master classes, demonstrations by London's Kenneth Turner, boutiques, luncheons and tours. Also at the premiere: Glen and Martha Mitchel, Tom Voltin, John and Barbara deGroot, Mark and Terri Granich, Peter and Sally Kelly, and Terry and Connie Lynch.

Patrons at the $1,000 level left with commemorative Halcyon Days boxes bestowed by Northern Trust Bank.

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