When I read that the famed Hollywood delicatessen Nate ‘n Al has closed, I remembered a story about the only time I went there.
Fifteen or twenty years ago, I called my friend Jon Macks — longtime writer for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and pretty much every televised awards show — to tell him I was going to be in Los Angeles and ask if he wanted to grab lunch with me. He said sure, so I told him to choose a place, and if it was a restaurant where I would recognize at least one other customer, I’d pay.
He replied, “Okay, we’ll go to Nate ‘n Al’s, where I guarantee you’ll see Larry King talking with food in his mouth!”
Jon’s a very funny guy, so I thought he was kidding. Nope!
When we walked in, as the hostess steered us to our table, Jon elbowed me and nodded to his left. Sure enough, there was Larry King talking to two other people. At that exact moment, Larry took a big bite of his sandwich and, without bothering to chew and swallow, launched into a story for his table-mates, spitting food as he talked.
I couldn’t hear what he said, but I laughed so loud that Jon had to push me along.
When we sat down, I asked, “How did you know he’d be here today?” Jon responded, “He’s here every day, and they save that booth for him. Notice how you can’t walk in here without seeing him? That’s Larry! By the way, if he ever invites me to sit down, I’m gonna wear a bib to keep Larry’s lunch off my shirt!”