The Beverly Hills Restaurant Where Humphrey Bogart Enjoyed Eating Brunch

While Humphrey Bogart may be best remembered for playing cynical yet romantic Rick Blaine in "Casablanca," one role that he put even more of himself into is that of Dix Steele, the screenwriter and suspected murderer from "In a Lonely Place." Well, okay, so Bogart never displayed any of Steele's homicidal impulses, but the two did share a proclivity for pairing breakfast foods with booze. Steele's favorite restaurant in the movie, a place called Paul's, is also clearly modeled on Bogie's Beverly Hills hangout, Romanoff's.

When we first meet Steele, he's taking a meeting at Paul's over a brunch of ham and eggs washed down with a gin and tonic. This parallels Bogart's own standing order at Romanoff's — every day around 2 p.m. he would park himself in a booth by the bar and dine upon an omelet and french toast while drinking a scotch and soda and milk followed by brandy and coffee. By some accounts, hard-drinking Humphrey would also have a couple of beers with his food and a Drambuie afterward. After his meal, he might pass the time playing chess with the restaurant's owner, Michael Romanoff. Of course, the latter would always make time for Bogart, who was not only a regular customer (and a famous one, to boot) but also an investor in the restaurant.

Romanoff's was known for its celebrity clientele

Michael Romanoff was himself a bit of a celebrity, not so much due to his claim to be related to the deposed (and mostly assassinated) Russian royals of the same name but because nobody actually believed him -– nor should they, as he was born as the poor-but-never-humble Hershel Geguzin in Lithuania. Nonetheless, A-listers like Humphrey Bogart were amused by his charade and his flamboyant personality. What's more, unlike so many of today's food-world stars; he was always onsite to schmooze with the celebs, and his restaurant drew them by the dozens: James Cagney, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper. Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield, Jimmy Stewart, and Daryl Zanuck were all spotted there at one time or another.

When Bogart died in 1957, business at Romanoff's dropped off a bit, as did the owner's inclination to spend time there. Romanoff befriended Frank Sinatra, who took over as the new leader of Hollywood's Rat Pack (Bogart and pals Errol Flynn, Nat King Cole, Mickey Rooney, and Cesar Romero were the original rats). He started hanging out in Palm Springs, which was more Sinatra's kind of town and even opened a second location called Romanoff's On-the-Rocks there. While the new lounge soon replaced the still-open Beverly Hills restaurant as the place to see and be seen, it closed in 1962 and Romanoff's in Beverly Hills followed suit in 1971.