Photographer: James Ruebsamen, 1983 Herald Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library
During its long history as a Los Angeles landmark, Perino’s Restaurant would have two locations, the original at 3927 Wilshire Blvd. and later 4101 Wilshire and Norton Avenue (image 1). When Perino's first opened in 1932, the restaurant and its owner, Alexander, immediately became favorites of both Hollywood elite and the city's demimonde. Perino's popularity would last over 50 years. On August 15, 1934 a fire gutted the interior of the original restaurant, but the eatery reopened better than ever. Sinatra played the piano in the bar, Bette Davis permanently reserved her booth, the mobster “Bugsy” Siegel was a regular patron in the '40s, and Cole Porter supposedly wrote a song on the back of a Perino’s menu.
Eventually Alexander moved his restaurant to a better location at 4101 Wilshire Blvd, the former site of a Thriftmart food store. Paul R. Williams was commissioned to design a new, improved and enlarged Perino's. Costing over $400,000 Williams' New Orleans-inspired redesign opened to much fanfare. On September 10, 1954, another fire gutted the building, causing over $250,000 in damages. Fire investigators believed it started when someone left a lighted cigarette in an upholstered chair. The restaurant reopened in 1955 with new interiors designed by Williams. (Images 2, 3, 4, 1964 photographs) Perino's was enlarged to seat 360 and Williams added two private dining rooms. The restaurant closed in 1986 and was torn down in 2005, replaced by a 4-story, 47-unit apartment building.