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The Man Behind Cyrano

Rick Calamaro brings his style and 'juice' to the Beverly Boulevard restaurant hangout.

March 16, 2000|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

I don't know whose nose is more famous: Cyrano de Bergerac's or Rick Calamaro's. Sure, Cyrano had his day in the sun, and every so often someone retells his tale. But Calamaro--a club promoter in the Hollywood here and now--not only has a fabulously sharp proboscis (which he disdains), but a fine nose for business.

The popular man about town now owns Cyrano, and not surprisingly, it's L.A.'s latest little gem. The Beverly Boulevard restaurant has been around awhile, but when Calamaro migrated into the picture in November, he brought the kind of "juice" to the table that makes or breaks a place.

In Calamaro's Clubland archives one finds "On the Rox" during the Heidi Fleiss, Victoria Sellers "heeeey"-day. There's also Grand Ville, a long-running Thursday night dance club at 7969 (Santa Monica Blvd.). Named after a car Charlie Sheen gave Calamaro, Grand Ville came along at a lullish point in the mid-'90s and ingenuously incorporated a heterosexual dance club and a light striptease show.

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For Calamaro, who grew up in the Playboy Mansion with Papa Hefner as a surrogate dad, throwing parties was a natural occupation. As a promoter, he grew weary of putting a place on the map but not owning it. It was Calamaro, for instance, who cranked up the heat in the fenix room at the Argyle Hotel in 1998, when it may as well have been a morgue. Suddenly, the Sunset Strip hotel had an enormo dance scene on weekends.

Finally, with Cyrano, Calamaro has his own place--co-owned with partners Brian Farber and Eric Litoff. And anyone who's anyone on the Hollywood scene has already been there.

It's the Monkey Bar redux and it's a whole lot of fun.

First off, you have to trip upstairs to get to Cyrano, and on your way up you'll be tripping over celebrities, agents and more agents.

Once inside, the warm interior is loungey, with spacious booths and cozy couches. It's not dizzyingly posh, but it has a certain comfort level to it. The music, provided on weekends by deejay Scott Oster, is a soulful blend of rare groove and hip-hop lite that works well with the room.

Cyrano has a patio that overlooks Beverly Boulevard (that's where we scoped out Miss Monica Loo a few weeks back) and is surrounded with sliding glass doors and windows, which surely will be put to good use during the summer.

The young chef, Jacob La Tray, who got his training from Stars in Singapore, is a score in part because he's such a cool cat. Just a regular guy with a j-o-b, he helped Calamaro create a menu that, basically, incorporates Calamaro's favorite dishes from other restaurants. You know the drill; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Be forewarned: Y'all need to designate a driver because Cyrano's sizzling hot wait staff (but of course) delivers up some tail-kicking drinks. Scorpions are bowls of sweet punch served with four straws and a floating gardenia. They also offer Sofias--a drink named after a pal of Calamaro's who had nothing in her house one night but white grape juice and Absolut. They whipped the two together and voila, it became a staple. This is what legends are made of: girls named Sofia who find they have the right stuff just as they thought they didn't.

Don't get it twisted: It's not the celebrities that make a scene, but cats like Calamaro. Sure, spotting Jerry Springer across the room is a gas, but someone had to throw the party that got him there.

BE THERE

Cyrano, 8840 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 271-4193. 21 and older. No cover.

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