1973/4 Gallaretto’s and Thirty Tons of Bricke
Editor’s note: I again mention women at the time, not to brag, but because it happened and I hope I’m reminding people that men and women really do attract each other. We seem to have a problem understanding that today.
Around 1973 0r 74 my partners and I had an opportunity to buy a beautiful restaurant in Torrance CA. It was built and opened as “Gallarretto’s,” a high end, very classy, high roller restaurant for the heavy hitters in Palos Verdes area, the upper income people in the South Bay and those who owned the gambling casinos in Gardena.
John Gallaretto had built this beautiful elegant restaurant and hit the jackpot with it from the beginning. It had over a hundred entrée’s and a wine list that might have been the best in the area.
Gallarretto’s had opened and for about nine months was the toast of the South Bay area. But John was an architect builder and contractor, not a restaurateur. He was one of the nicest guys you could meet, but he was the kind of guy who would accidentally flick his cigarette ashes on your salad or your mashed potatoes.
For some reason or other, one day John ordered his waitresses to ask for an ID from every credit card paying customer regardless of who they were. I think he had been stiffed by a couple customers.
The high rollers that would go to Gallarretto’s spent an enormous amount of money and when they were asked for their ID, they really got offended and stopped showing up. The man in question on this occasion was an owner of a casino. His bills ran over a thousand dollars, and he was very well known. When the waitress carded him, that was it for him.
The downturn in business was immediate and a few weeks later John found himself unable to make payroll.
When John contacted me he was being pushed by the local Mafia to sell to them and he didn’t want to do it. Calling me was his last-ditch attempt to keep it out of their hands and he actually gave the place to us if we would accept the debt.
At the time my head was so far in the sky that I believed everything I touched would turn to gold. In that frame of mind, I really wanted to do a deal with John so I presented the offer to my partners. They agreed and John sold us the place for the price of making payroll. We got the whole deal for less than $10,000.00.
The only debt we assumed was the payment balance of the building and the lease on the land. That alone ran over a million dollars and we had to qualify for it. J. Paul Getty owned the land and for the first time in my life I was over a million dollars in debt.
Thinking the way I thought back then, I considered myself a millionaire, which I knew I wasn’t, but it was fun to say it TO MYSELF!
I changed the name of the restaurant to “Thirty Tons of Bricke,” ( I added the e) because John had built this beautiful building out of used bricks from San Pedro. San Pedro was a place where all brick buildings were torn down because of earthquake regulations. I have no idea where I came up with thirty tons.
With the name change, a new sign and the liquor license transfer set in motion we were able to stay open. I immediately reduced the number of entree’s to about ten. The new business plan was to go after the average diner and forget the high rollers.
Thirty Tons really looked like a high-end restaurant and the interior was gorgeous. It had a small lounge area that I expanded as much as I could and then I went after Eddie Cano.
I first met Eddie Cano when he was performing at PJ’s in Beverly Hills in the 60’s. My dream had always been to have a class lounge so I could hire Eddie, and now I had it. Eddie’s group was a five-piece Latin jazz/salsa band and he had had a top ten tune, “A Taste of Honey.” He played the piano and we had a beautiful baby grand in the lounge. The people loved him and he kept the small lounge packed.
I would do the daily business at The Raintree and Thirty Tons, but I was usually in by 10:00 AM and out by 2:00 PM. Four hours to do the daily business for both places.
In the evening I would walk into Thirty Tons between 9:30 PM and 10:00 PM, sit at a reserved spot at the bar and listen to Eddie and the group. What a charge! I felt like Mr. Lucky on TV! I always wore a three-piece dark suit, my hair was styled and I smoked Tiparilo’s. I was really cool.
Actually I didn’t think that at all. Between the two places and all the women in my life I didn’t have time to think like that, but I was creating quite a reputation. Even with the police. I would stay at the restaurant until around midnight and then drive to The Raintree about five miles away.
Speaking of a reputation and women, in that era words like chauvinist, womanizer, xenophobe didn’t exist in our language. THEY WERE NEVER SAID! The word rape or rapist was very very seldom heard. It was a very violent crime that described a very violent act. Since the new age lesbian controlled feminist movement, those words are bantered around like Hello.
Feminism has conditioned women to view men through a completely different prism. Men are animals out to take advantage of a poor defenseless woman. All men beat their wives. If a man wants to provide for his wife and prefers she stay home he’s a domineering bastard who wants her barefoot and pregnant chained to the kitchen. If she wants to stay home, she’s a Stepford wife. Boy, have the lesbians done a number on the American family.
They have even conditioned men to such degree that terms like pussiffication of men is an acceptable condition in conversation. You may not agree with it, but you talk about it with no understanding of how to stop it.
In those days terms like lover, ladies man and lover boy were used by women to describe certain men in a complimentary way. A ladies man loved women and women loved him. A man would hit on a woman and she was complimented. Today they call it sexual assault. If a woman was whistled at, she thanked us, today again it’s an insult.
Women would know who the lover boys were and not run and hide. They would give him the same opportunity she would give any other guy. She might be more aware of what was going on, but she wouldn’t rule out being made love to by him. Women were women, not the frail little bed wetters that need safe zones.
There were very few STD’s. I’m not saying people didn’t get them, I’m saying very few ever did and I’m one of them. Not once!
Some in academia want contracts to be signed before having sex. They want a girl to be able to claim rape if her boyfriend said he loved her and later broke up with her. The evil bastard lied to get into her pants! Some young men’s lives are being destroyed because of all the crap.
What have women allowed to happen to themselves? The conditioning has been slow, but it has been constant. And it starts in our schools.
Our schools are conditioning young boys to suppress being a boy while supporting young girls to act more manly. Fathers openly want their daughters to learn what were male dominated sports, not thinking that she may become a wife and mother someday with no idea what she’s to do.
After all the bitching done about the boys, Spring Break comes along and all the rules go out the window. They do things we only thought of back then and more often with each other. The Feminist Lesbian’s final victory.
Remember that not so good looking overweight girl I talked about in the last chapter? Odds are today she’s got a girlfriend and has a different reason to cry when her head hits the pillow.
It’s times like this that I’m glad I’m on the downhill side of the mountain. I don’t think I could take all this bullshit much longer. OK enough, back to the story.
Again, back to the book.
It was during the next few months that I got to know the Torrance Chief of Police very well. He was a divorced guy and would do what divorced guys did. He would go out a few times a week looking for love and he became a regular at Thirty Tons.
But one night at The Raintree, a girl I knew came up to me all excited and said, “Chuck, I just came from a TPD party, (Torrance Police Department), and they are all talking about busting you.” I asked why they would do that and all she could say was they were.
When 2:00AM rolls around and you are closing the bar or restaurant it’s typical that you allow a certain number of people to stay after the doors close. The band members may have girls they want to go with, the bartenders the same or even I would. While cleaning up and putting everything away everyone helps and we would usually have a drink. The law says you can’t SELL liquor after closing time.
The police never bothered me , EVER, until after that girl told me the TPD were after me. The very next night at about 2:10 AM the was a pounding at the door. We knew who it was and we would empty all the glasses and put everything away.
I would go to the door and ask, “WHO IS IT?’ They would say, IT’S THE POLICE” I would ask, ‘WHAT DO YOU WANT?” They would answer, “OPEN UP!” I would say, “HOW DO I KNOW IT”S THE POLICE?”
By now we would have all the booze and glasses put away, but I would continue with, “GIVE ME YOUR BADGE NUMBER SO I CAN CALL THE STATION AND VERIFY YOU ARE REALLY THE POLICE.” I would then call the station and they would verify and I would ask why do they want to come in?
I would finally open the door, they would come in and look around, sniff the air, badger me a bit and ask me if I was aware I couldn’t have any booze out. They would take their time leaving, but in general they were just trying to flex their muscles. Where they really had me was when I was driving.
Soon I started getting pulled over and checked for everything. In one six-month period, they arrested me about, I actually can’t remember how many times, but it was a lot. I usually say eighteen times, but I’m not sure of that number. It was enough for the night Lt. or Sergeant and I to sometime sit and play cards until they would release me.
They even busted me once when I was out of my car and getting my key out at a girl’s apartment that I was going to visit that night. I was walking and they were waiting for me.
Later, I found out a married cop had a girlfriend and one night he saw her car in front of my apartment complex in Torrance. I had moved to Torrance shortly after I started running Thirty Tons and The Raintree. A Jealous cop was at the center of all the misery.
So, because he thought his girlfriend spent the night with me, I was getting busted and harassed. AND he was married! I have no idea if I did or didn’t, because I didn’t know his girlfriend’s name and when I found out the reason it was already six months ago, and a lot of women ago. Who knew?
Back to the restaurant,
The restaurant also had valet parking and on some nights I would hang out with the valet’s. They were all Mexican’s and worked for the main Mexican bus boy boss. I would talk to them about the importance of learning English and raising their kids as Americans. They got a kick out of my joining them outside and when they first found out I could speak Spanish they went wacky.
Later I found out the main bus boy boss was forcing his crew to give him a kick back for hiring them and that didn’t set well with me. He had been responsible for hiring, training and firing bus boys and the parking valet’s while John was running things and for him it took that load off his back, but it wasn’t right. I let it slide thinking I would change things when I got my sea legs, but sometimes it’s easier to go along with something like that then to meet it head on. I had a lot more to worry about trying to save the restaurant.
While Eddie was a great hit, the lounge wasn’t big enough and the restaurant couldn’t be saved. I hadn’t realized that the downturn would take much longer to turn around, if at all.
Primarily, when I changed the menu, the upper class and high rollers had no reason to return and my target market didn’t know that we were no longer a high-priced restaurant. It would take a lot of advertising and time for word of mouth to turn it around, so I just screwed up.
We were only open for six months. But what a six months it was.
During the six-month adventure, Eddie was approached by NBC to play on a TV special and was excited to tell me about it. He told me in bits and pieces during his breaks one night and it sounded great.
NBC would tape him at the club and it all sounded good. Good for Eddie, good for NBC and good for Thirty Tons. Everything was good until he gave me the details of the show.
It was to be hosted by Ricardo Montablan and was to feature all Latino’s that have made it. That’s when I asked Eddie, what does Latino’s that have made it mean? He was surprised by the question and before he could answer I continued, “are Latino’s not supposed to make it? Is that why they’re going to have a special? To show the world that some can make it?
Then I just left it with, “Not in my club.”
Eddie couldn’t believe his ears because I was a “Latino.” I’ve always considered myself an American, but in Eddie’s eye’s I was a Mexican. I tried to explain to Eddie that a show like that was like saying Latino’s normally can’t make it. So much so that NBC wanted to create this show. They were being segregated and to me that was/is un-American. He wouldn’t understand and got pretty mad at me.
He told NBC of my decision and before I knew it the NBC producers were in my club trying to talk to me about my reasoning. I explained that Eddie, for example, was a top Latin jazz pianist who on his own could stand shoulder to shoulder with other jazz pianists. He was no Oscar Peterson or Paul Smith, but he could be a guest an any variety show of the time and do just great. He made PJ’s in Beverly Hills, or Hollywood.
I told them the show’s concept was un-American.
They damn near had a heart attack with that and the conversation suddenly changed to them asking me about my politics.
At the time, I didn’t have any politics I only had my opinion. I had never voted or even registered to vote and I thought I was a Democrat and an atheist to boot. They started asking me about what I thought “Latino’s” should do as immigrants etc. etc.
I told them a bit of my life and how my family came to the United States and how we lived our lives as Americans. We held our Mexican traditions in the food we ate, the holidays we celebrated both American and Mexican and the music we listened to, again both American and Mexican.
We spoke Spanish with my grandmother because she could never learn to speak English. She could understand it but not speak it. If it weren’t for her and all the time I spent with her I probably would have never learned the language.
When I told them I thought the Latino’s should get the hell out of the Barrio they just about came unglued. They asked what I meant and I said, if anyone migrates to this country I could understand starting out in a Barrio for a while. Long enough to learn the ropes and where you were in this big city. BUT, I continued, the goal should always be to leave the Barrio, mix with America and become Americans.
Now the NBC bunch were falling out of their chairs and before I knew it I was invited to be a guest on the NBC Sunday talk show in Los Angeles.
Had I been more political I may have accepted the offer, but I passed and would not even consider it. It’s funny, that twenty years later I would be interviewed by NBC on a *Sunday talk show in Tucson Arizona.
I can’t remember if Eddie actually performed on the show but I believe he did. He pretty much stayed upset with me but we parted friends when I had to close the club and I never saw him again. That was in late 1973 or early 1974.
When we closed, I found out the Mexican bus boy boss had also been stealing from John and now me. He was taking forks, knives, plates, pots, pans and all the stuff he needed to open his own restaurant back in Mexico. He had read the writing on the wall and left for Mexico just before we closed. He left with a boatload of money and John and I had furnished his restaurant.
I took the baby grand piano and put it in my condo’s living room, but that didn’t last long. Unbeknownst to me the piano was leased from a run Mafia company. At first when I was asked to return it I said no. I thought it was the least I could get after losing about $60,000 in six months.
Then one night I found out the Mafia was really pissed off and they really wanted the piano back. Two of them showed up at my door one afternoon and they looked like they were out of central casting. They looked exactly like what they were.
I invited them to please feel free to take the piano and they already had a mover waiting to do it. Then they handed me the bill. I paid it.
In that year, I lost about $60 grand and when I mentioned it to my mother she said, “My son has lost sixty thousand dollars.” I said to her, “Mom I had it to lose, it was my money, not yours.”
I lost those two places to some pretty bad people, but that’s part of life.
When I closed Thirty Tons and filed bankruptcy it was the first time I had failed at anything in business. Yes I was broke before, but that was of my own choosing. I sold The Doll House and spent the money.
To this point in my life I had never failed. I felt so bad about it I couldn’t drive by the place for over a year. I couldn’t drive down that street. I was ripped up inside and that could have led to the problem that eventually caused me to leave The Raintree.
Actually, I just thought of that. It could have been, but that’s water under the bridge now.
After closing Thirty Tons and then about a year later getting into the argument with one of the partners, I was out looking for something to do.
For the first time in my life I was scared. You’ll find out what I did next in From Entertainment to the Car Business.