Tag Archives: montebello

EASTSIDE CHIPPERY THE FINAL CHAPTER

As I sit in one of my favorite coffee houses, somewhere in a small town in Kansas, my mind drifts to the last year in which I performed my services as Chef Stan, The Iron Chef, of Montebello’s Eastside Chippery. Of all the roles I have played, master criminal, art dealer, visual artist, night club owner, clothing designer, movie producer and all the variations there of, I can honestly say that Chef Stan and the Eastside Chippery may have been the most challenging. And perhaps the most rewarding.

Usually at this point I would recap some of my thoughts from the blogs Eastside Chippery Part I and Part II, but frankly I’m not much in the mood to look back—I’ll save that for the book. Suffice it to say that a little over a year ago I wound up taking over a really bad Mexican food restaurant in my hometown of Montebello. And this restaurant, against all odds, turned out to be both an incredible fiasco and success simultaneously during the same year. This being said, I’d like to share some of the deeper thoughts and emotions that I experienced during the course of being Chef Stan of the Eastside Chippery.

In many ways I am the ultimate of ordinary and yet there is a very unusual spark here and there that has for all of my life made me different. I say this now because it’s always had an effect and or influence on how things I’ve been involved in have turned out. It’s also the reason that people throughout my life have had such strong reactions toward me. In short, I’ve been blessed to have been the recipient of kindness and teaching by people of much greater accomplishment than myself and I have also been hated by people who have perceived insult or mistreatment, which in fact may have occurred, but certainly to no degree that merited, in some cases, unadulterated malice.

For 45 years or so, there was a part of me that just wanted to be normal. However, in my heart there was an even greater desire to be special. And over the last year at the Eastside Chippery I came to realize that both were vanity and the source of much of what had become frustrating and emotionally painful to me. One might ask, hadn’t you heard the words of King Solomon? And the answer is, yes, I had heard the words “Vanity of vanities…” but hearing and understanding do not necessarily equate to harkening. As I stood in the kitchen cooking and washing dishes sometimes for 32 hour stretches at a time, my heart, for lack of better words, began to soften and the vanity to dissipate. Continue reading

THE DAILY BREW BREWS UP A NEW PARTNERSHIP

Foreword by Stan Lerner: the following article will appear in the next edition of the Montebello Spotlight. For those of you not familiar, Montebello, which means beautiful hills in Italian, is a suburb of Los Angeles about eight miles east of Downtown or just east of East LA. And Montebello is also my hometown, the place where I dreamed many of the dreams I’ve been so blessed to pursue—I’ve always had dreams about returning to the place of my youth and doing business there. The following article is about that. My business savvy friends may want to pay particular attention to this little piece, as the last two places I took an interest in, Palm Springs and Downtown LA, fifteen years ago, went on to do pretty well.

THE ARTICLE

The Daily Brew, located at the corner of Montebello Blvd. and Cleveland Ave, has brewed up a dynamic new partnership. Having recently celebrated its one-year-anniversary as the neighborhood’s local coffee house The Daily Brew, founded by Veronica Diaz, is now officially The Daily Brew LLC, which is owned and operated by Miss Diaz and new partner Stan Lerner.

Mr. Lerner, is best known as an award winning author of books, movies, Las Vegas shows and blogs (He owns downtownster.com), but among the world of business elite he has also earned a reputation as a master business plan writer and turn-around specialist. And yes, he is born and raised in Montebello. “I’ve been blessed in my life to be able to pursue many of my dreams, but the one that’s been on my list longer than I would have liked it to be is the opportunity to come back to my hometown and build a company—a Montebello based company,” Lerner said. “It’s funny because I was a Daily Brew customer, I’d come have a coffee and do some work on my computer whenever I was visiting my home in Montebello, so when the opportunity presented itself I didn’t have to think about it at all—I just said, ‘Let’s do this.’”

Since the formation of the new partnership The Daily Brew has been aggressively implementing a new Best In Class Mission Statement. Lerner, who has owned successful restaurants in the past, has a passion for food and has always enjoyed creating new dishes for both his and his friend’s restaurants. Continue reading

THE WANDERING JEW

So I had intended to drive up to Missoula Montana, where my blog Road To Nowhere had left off, and continue my journey of self-discovery and storytelling from all over this great country of ours. But I have paved many paths with intentions that quite often differ from my deeds. I’m back in LA now, I wrote nothing about my trip from the road, although I did write about smashwords / ebooks and the Los Angeles Book Festival…Maybe we should explore a different voice as I now reflect on my most recent expedition. Perhaps sentences, which are short stories unto themselves—a marathon of sprints, if you will. Yes, a marathon of sprints, because isn’t that how one might best describe a robust life.

As I have done so often in the past I departed from my home in my hometown of Montebello. Round midnight the black beast (a 1996 Suburban) beckoned to me from the curb, “Come it is time to go.”

Sunrise breakfast at a diner a half hour south of Pebble Beach, the owner was nice, his business was failing—neglectful ways.

Stopped at Pebble Beach, the U.S Open was about to open, but I wasn’t so impressed by any of it at all.

I drove through the mountains, there was a blizzard, I passed the Donner Pass, poor people had to eat each other, I thought to myself.

The bright lights of Reno made me smile, I had never been there before and I felt like staying. I’ll go back to Reno one day…

I slept at a friend’s house a few miles outside of Boise Idaho, Eagle Idaho I believe it’s called, I hadn’t seen her in twenty-three years—she’s married to a nice guy and has two kids.

The drive from Eagle to Missoula was a wondrous; winter snowscape that wound along the Little Salmon River amongst many rivers and I never for a moment stopped wishing that everyone could one day see such beauty!

Missoula Montana is one of my favorite places, so I stayed for a while. Most people would and should experience all there is to do outdoors there—I sat at Break Espresso and wrote, chatted with Matt the barista, he’s the type that will never fully trust someone like me, but that aside he’s going to be a big success one day. I met a girl named Emma, I feel really good about her because something about her made me feel good about my day. I met a girl named Kelsi who I love because she needs me to. And I mean love in the Godly sense.

I caught wind of a story about a company in North Carolina that had been embezzled by its employees. Continue reading

THE LOS ANGELES BOOK FESTIVAL

The Los Angeles Book Festival named “Sweet Mary” by two time Pulitzer Prize Winner Liz Balmaseda its 2010 Grand Prize Winner—congratulations Liz! My novel “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”, as it did at the London Book Festival received the First Honorable Mention. So “Criminal” has now won the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival and received the First Honorable Mention at both the London and Los Angeles Book Festivals—not so bad for a UCLA dropout, I suppose. In the case of the London Book Festival I wrote a blog that explored my feelings with respect to my expectations of always having to win and ultimately the journey of writing and publishing “Criminal”. If you haven’t read my London Book Festival blog please do so, because the words I am now hoping to conjure up won’t be of the recycled variety.

The results were announced online (Feb 25th 2010) as I sat at my favorite coffee house in Montebello, a suburb of LA and my hometown. A few days earlier I had just returned from the continuation of my much written about journey “Road To Nowhere”. This time the “Road To Nowhere” had picked back up in Missoula Montana and gone as far as Washington DC—I had been planning to write about this affair of the road until the moment the news of “Criminal’s” most recent festival result appeared on my screen. Happily, I did not experience the angst previously described in my London Book Festival blog, rather I felt, for lack of a more literary term, relaxed—basically I’m okay with things these days.

Yes, it would still be nice if the publishing establishment and big booksellers could find a way to work with artists such as myself that don’t exactly fit any kind of mold or formula. And it would be great if the motion picture studios and or production companies sought out award winning artists and their works, instead of relying on simply what’s fed to them by a few powerful agencies that can throw in a star or two as part of a package. And as I mention these major shifts of paradigm I would like to see happen one day, I can’t help but to think of a recent article in the Los Angeles Downtown News, which focused on downtown’s writers, it had a nice picture of them at Metropolis Books on Main Street (I’ve done two reading at this store, lived downtown for fifteen years, and have won more awards than the entire group combined.)—no picture or mention of Stan Lerner though. And I mean this genuinely from my heart—it’s okay. I don’t understand it, but I’m okay with it… Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE PART III

Just as the Road To Nowhere is a time and place to relax in the present, it is also a time and place to have a blast from the past. The device I used to advance this objective, an ipod, was considerably different than the Eight Track player of my original road trips, ohhh, but the music was the same! “We are stardust and we’ve got to get ourselves, back to the garden…By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong…Can I walk beside you? I have come here to lose the smog…” And I plugged in the ipod filling the cabin of the big, black Suburban with timeless music and memories.

The rock formations in the land somewhere between the states of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, for those who have not traveled the 15 past Las Vegas, are mind tingling beautiful—cliffs, valleys, streams, escarpments of every kind. And there is no doubt to the thinking man who sets eyes upon this terrain that the Earth itself has a soul. These massive protrusions are not monuments, but a quest by the Earth to reach out and be close to God. The struggle is so similar to our own; the Earth like the body of man anchors the soul so desiring transcendence from the physical realm back to the spiritual reality of all creation. I cry at the sight of these mighty boulders stretched by such an epic struggle…And I feel sorry for myself because of the futility of my own struggle…Surely if the soul of the mighty Earth, which can shift tectonic plates and create mountains can’t…

A stop for lunch in Cedar City, a nice little town with an abundance of Mexican food, a University, and a Wal-Mart—and up the road we continued. From Cedar City to Sandy the topography is that of an enormous, green valley, the surrounding mountains of which, are green as well, seemingly more content with their lot than those encountered earlier—there is a tranquility about them…Even the grazing cattle is happy. Yes, these cows that graze the natural grass are happy not mad.

And the conversation that transpired originating a few miles before St. George and lasting to a click past Beaver went something like this:

“I almost built a factory over there,” Mike nodded the direction of Colorado City. “But when they told me I’d have to meet with the elders I decided not to.” Continue reading

ROAD TO NOWHERE

“If anybody would like to join the first downtownster road to nowhere road trip I’ll be leaving Thursday or Friday,” I said to the meeting of the Marketing Round Table. “I don’t know where we’re going or when we’ll get there, but that’s the idea. And uh you could get on or off the trip at any time or place—providing that there is an airport of course.” NO TAKERS

Friday morning 4:30 a.m. the 1996 black Chevy Suburban docked at the curb of my childhood home in Montebello, CA—Montebello is Italian for beautiful hills. And it is from this very spot, that I have departed for many an adventure. I am fortunate to, over an excessively well-lived lifetime, have developed a number of friends who are willing to embark on such journeys. And I should be careful to mention here that some of these individuals were mere acquaintances or even less familiar at the time of departures, but traveling and adventure make for far greater bonds than the songs of fraternity boys in their beer soaked homes.

This particular morning it was to be my old high school buddy Mike Munoz picking me up. Although he went to West Point and achieved the rank of Colonel I still refer to him as my Mexican—I find this term of endearment more special than he does.

“The 15?” he asked. Continue reading

SHORT TRIP, LONG BEACH

Being a writer can be challenging. Being a great writer is a disease. Being a writer with wealthy friends that will let you stay at their vacation homes for free—NICE CONSOLATION!

Some of my earliest childhood memories float through my mind like the fog that rolls toward the California shores, particularly Belmont Shores Long Beach, where my father procured a rental every summer for our family. I was too young to understand that this was not the most tony of beach resorts, but did take note that my father often told other adults that he preferred the weather in Belmont Shores to any other costal city. And my father did have an aversion to big shots and people who fancied themselves chic.

As years passed on, the family vacations came to an end. And as more years passed my connection to Belmont Shores, like so many of the great wonders of youth, became a distant memory relegated to an occasional visit.

I pause to think now about my dream of buying the beautiful brick house that to this day sits on a corner of an island called Naples, which juts into the bay at its most favorable bend. In my lifetime I earned the money many times over to buy this spot so beautifully balanced between the earth and sea, but the foolishness of still larger dreams caused this one to vanish like the sandcastles of children with the rise of the tide.

My friend Ed, EY, Big Ed, or Edward Yawitz, he answers to all cheerfully so, grew up in Montebello a few blocks from I. And his family too escaped the heat of August by family vacation in Belmont Shores—and many other neighbors did so as well, it was the Catskill’s West. Even though many friends of my childhood kayaked in the bay in my company, and broke bread at my wooden table on the patio of The Beach Burger, or stood in line next to me at Woody’s Goodies, it had never occurred to me that their dreams had taken the shape of my own. But unlike my easily corrupted, by greed and grandiosity, vision of existence my friend Ed bought a home on the shorefront of Alamitos Bay, Belmont Shores, Long Beach.

“Why don’t you come down to Long Beach and spend the night? We’ll paddleboard around the island,” Ed suggested whilst we drove around the city smoking Cuban cigars in an American made truck he uses for work on occasion.

“Okay…” said I.

The home, built in 1903, was the first on the peninsula. Originally a Grand Victorian it was the sales office for much of the neighboring beachfront property. Later the first home on the bay laid claim to being the first brothel of the beach. And then came the remodel that converted the magnificent home to an apartment building—with three thousand square feet preserved ground floor, in front, for a hint of grandeur past.

And it is this valuable footage that my friend Ed has turned into a vacation rental. It warms me to think that other families are experiencing the summers as I once did. Ed is a wealthy man, he does not need to rent out such a special place—he won’t admit this. But in his heart I see that he wants others to know what we know about this little part of Earth.

I paddleboarded up and down the bay, after an unfortunate moment in which I attempted to mount the surfboard like contraption—it slipped from underneath and I landed face first in the shallow water. “Warmer than I remember,” I thought to myself, as Ed and several children accompanied by their parents had a great laugh. I chose to make it a teaching moment. And after failing so miserably the first time, I tried again and succeeded excessively.

Post paddle, I took a luxurious hot shower. This particular cascade of pleasure can only be experienced by walking directly from the sand to the shower bath—and even an adult must smile at the sand that washes down the drain after finding its way into the most inappropriate of places.

Ed took Frankie (another of his friends) and I to dinner on Second Street. Continue reading