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Always on the Menu: Spectacles du Jour


With a menu longer than most film credits, it's no wonder Beverly Hills' Grill on the Alley employs fine print to list all those filets and chops. But how to read it?

Several years ago, Grill founder Bob Spivak made the mistake of going to a restaurant without his glasses. The menu, he says, was a blur. That's when he got an idea: "How thoughtful it would be if a restaurant had an array of reading glasses for their customers."

So Spivak asked Ralph Oliva, a veteran waiter at the Grill and an enthusiastic handyman, to make it happen. Oliva hunted down a handsome lacquered box, lined it with red felt, inserted wood dividers and added a clasp closure. Then he purchased five pairs of reading glasses and set them inside. His son Steve Oliva, also a Grill waiter, contributed labels to identify the magnification of each pair.

Available since 1994, the "glasses box," as it is known, is used about every other night.

"Every time we bring it to someone, they're pleased and impressed," says the younger Oliva. "This is usually accompanied by a laugh."

And how do waiters know when to reach for the box?

"That's a peculiar thing," he explains. "At the bottom of the menu it says, 'Reading glasses available upon request.' But if you can read that . . ."


The Grill on the Alley is at 9560 Dayton Way, Beverly Hills. (310) 276-0615.

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