SMALL BITES THE MAN WHO FED HUNGRY TIGER'S SUCCESS MOVES ON.
Byline: - Larry Lipson
Wally Hollenstein's most important day in the restaurant business was Jan. 1, 1962.
That's when the owners of the beleaguered be·lea·guer
tr.v. be·lea·guered, be·lea·guer·ing, be·lea·guers
1. To harass; beset: We are beleaguered by problems.
2. To surround with troops; besiege. Hungry Tiger restaurant in Sherman Oaks asked him to take over its management after going through three managers, firing a drunken chef and finding very little money in the cash register following a busy New Year's Eve.
Hollenstein, 70, owner of the Calabasas Inn for 34 years and a longtime West Hills resident, is retiring at the end of this year, having sold the Inn and its surrounding property to a local developer.
A lanky, amiable man with boyish looks, Hollenstein came to Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. in 1957 from Florida. He worked as a waiter at the Pump Room Noun 1. pump room - a pump house at a spa where medicinal waters are pumped and where patrons gather
pump house, pumping station - a house where pumps (e.g. in Studio City, the Brown Derby For the liquor stores, see .
The Brown Derby was a landmark restaurant in Los Angeles frequented by celebrities during the Golden Age of Hollywood. It was an example of novelty architecture, known for being physically shaped like a brown derby hat. in Hollywood, Dino's Lodge on the Sunset Strip The Sunset Strip is the name given to the mile and a half stretch of Sunset Boulevard that passes through West Hollywood, California. It extends from West Hollywood's east border with Hollywood at Marmont Lane to its west border with Beverly Hills at Phyllis street. and the Encore on La Cienega Boulevard La Cienega Boulevard is a major north/south arterial road that runs from El Segundo Boulevard in El Segundo, California on the south to its end on the Sunset Strip/Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. prior to his Hungry Tiger opportunity.
And what a job he did there.
Within a few months it was a rip-roaring success and the thankful owners, executives and pilots of the Flying Tigers freight airline, were ready to open more Hungry Tigers.
And, of course, give Hollenstein a piece of the action.
He attributes two major factors to the Hungry Tiger turnaround.
First, he installed an oyster bar, stocked by the Tiger airline, along with the kitchen's live lobsters. And second, he hired a couple of French chefs, Rene Robin and Marcel Frantz, to take over the Tiger kitchen.
Robin went on to open Le Petit Moulin moulin (mlăN`): see pothole. in Santa Monica, and Frantz co-founded Aux Delices in Sherman Oaks. Robin left first, later Frantz.
Hollenstein promoted his skillful skill·ful
1. Possessing or exercising skill; expert. See Synonyms at proficient.
2. Characterized by, exhibiting, or requiring skill. sous chef David May to take charge of the Tiger kitchen.
Seven more Hungry Tigers were successfully opened under Hollenstein's direction until 1972, when he resigned as president, cashed in his stock and bought the Calabasas Inn.
Meanwhile, May, who opened and still runs the Cafe Cordiale in Sherman Oaks, stayed on, and the Hungry Tiger chain grew to 40 locations before it was sold.
Hollenstein and his family operated the Calabasas Inn as a public restaurant until 1989, when he turned it strictly into a private catering facility.
Monte Montana rode up on his horse and lassoed his bride there, and Dennis Weaver's daughter was married at the Inn.
Now Hollenstein is ready to devote all his time to his family, one member of which -- his first great-grandson -- was born Aug. 15, 2006.
That's exactly 34 years after he opened the Calabasas Inn on Aug. 15, 1972.