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The Cat & Fiddle celebrates 30 years with 1980s pint prices

October 19, 2012|By Jessica Gelt
  • Bartender Jesus Gamboa stays busy serving a clientele that has seen the neighborhood grow more upscale through the years.
Bartender Jesus Gamboa stays busy serving a clientele that has seen the… (Lawrence K. Ho )

Hollywood's Cat & Fiddle is the pub that rock 'n' roll built. Founded in 1982 by British expat Kim Gardner and his wife, Paula, the place has become the go-to British pub for musicians and those who love them.

Kim -- a known wild man and bassist -- was part of the British Invasion of the 1960s and played with legends including George Harrison, the Rolling Stones and the Byrds.

The pub has also become a second home for generations of pint-loving neighbors and devoted monarchists who come for the hearty British fare, gorgeous front patio and down-home vibe cultivated by the Gardner family over the years.

The years have stretched into three decades, and this week the Cat & Fiddle is celebrating its 30-year anniversary. Saturday marks the big birthday bash with pint prices from 1982, free cake and Champagne, $1.50 sausage rolls and more.

The festivities are a way of honoring the past while shepherding in the future, says Kim's other daughter, Ashlee, 29, who now runs the pub with her mother. Kim passed away in 2001.

"The Cat & Fiddle is two weeks older than I am," Ashlee says. "My twin sister and I used to go to middle school right across the street. We used to just walk over here. They have really cleaned up this neighborhood since then."

The pub has evolved alongside Hollywood. Located on Sunset Boulevard near Cahuenga in a 1920s-era vintage Spanish-style building with seating for 275, the Cat & Fiddle was a rowdy hang through much of the '80s and '90s with the likes of Rod Stewart, Keith Moon and Robert Plant known for frequenting it. These days its rebel spirit remains -- only housed in a more seasoned shell.

On a recent Tuesday night, a relaxed crowd gathered on the candle-lighted patio after dark. A group of music managers and executives sitting by the gurgling fountain chatted about the current tour of indie-rock breakout band the Silversun Pickups, while couples cozied up at two-top tables with frothy pints and plates of golden fish and chips.

Inside bartender Akemi Grech, who has worked at the pub for almost 20 years, mixed drinks and joked with regulars while the weekly pub trivia quiz took place.

The vibe was familiar and low-key, and that's what keeps people coming back year after year, says Grech.

"It's not about money or being trendy; the place has a real soul, and that's what's carried it all these years," says Grech, who is earnest and kind with bright pink hair. "I've seen it evolve in a very organic way, as I think all family-owned places do."

The Gardner family's personal investment in the future of the Cat & Fiddle is apparent in the length of time that some of its employees have worked there. Like Grech, manager Christie Scarafia, has worked on and off at the Fiddle for almost two decades.

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