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Super-Duper Supper Club

Coconut Club is where the well-heeled and high-rolling are going when they want to relive the era of yesteryear.

November 19, 1998|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Took a trip to the Coconut Club and found only one thing missing: slot machines. The 10-month-old nightclub, located at the Merv Griffin-owned Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, is reminiscent of the swanky joints in that big playground in the desert.

Indeed, when you see the bright lights illuminating the Hilton from afar, it conjures up that itchy feeling of crossing the Nevada state line into casino paradiso. Alas, gambling is illegal around here--or no doubt slots would be ringing--but luckily for Coconut Club guests, dining, dancing and spewing cigar smoke still are allowable pleasures.

Open only on Friday and Saturday nights, the Coconut Club is a high-roller's haven, an old school club attracting Hollywood veterans, who probably remember a time when things were just a wee bit classier. Among the Coconut Club's well-heeled visitors recently were Victoria Principal, Loni Anderson, Esther Williams and Mickey Rooney.

Located on Wilshire Boulevard, the Coconut Club is part of a wholehearted attempt in 1998 to add more ritz to that strip. The C Bar, a vodka and caviar bar farther east on Wilshire, celebrated its first anniversary this month. The turnout was so large that the owners had to take over the bottom floor of an adjacent building. The neighboring Conga Room, which opened about the same time as Coconut Club, has brought its own idea of elegance to the boulevard. Its live Latin music and colorful ambience has been a hit with the community. The Coconut Club seems right in step with these heady happenings.

Featuring live entertainment ranging from big-band swing to special engagements like last week's performance by singer Lou Rawls, the Coconut Club is a supper club in its truest sense. It offers a 900-square-foot dance floor, ample private booths, a separate smoking area called Chimps Cigar Lounge, as well as two additional bar areas.

Young club promoters have been promising a rebirth of supper clubs throughout the city, but it takes more than a menu and live music to pull it off. A "supper club" is the kind of place your parents went to on special occasions--where they had to dress sharp and decided in advance that money was no object.

The Coconut Club is just such a place. The hotel's big winding driveway invites guests to splurge on valet parking, even though self-parking is available. Here, women want to be helped out of the car by a guy in red waistcoat, if only for a chance to show off their expensive gloves. Viewing how the older guests dress is a real treat, and a lesson in how shabby younger generations look in comparison. With the current swing music revival causing a youthful stir, however, the Coconut Club's younger guests seem to be taking a few fashion cues.

The Coconut Club doesn't have the design detail to make it particularly memorable--in that sense, it's still a modern-day hotel. Blazing neon monkeys and mirrors are the most memorable visual elements. But it does offer a good number of creature comforts for members of any generation looking for a special place for a special occasion.

BE THERE

Coconut Club at the Beverly Hilton, 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 285-1358. 21 & over, $20 cover (also includes admission to Chimps Cigar Lounge, Coco Bar and Mango Bar). Open Fridays and Saturdays. Full dinner menu.

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