Mr. Lara at the Tea Room
Two of my fondest memories about Wilshire Boulevard involve a building that was thankfully saved, the Bullocks Wilshire store.
The first good memory is a tour of the building hosted by the great Dorothy Miller. The other fond memory took place in the 1980s, when my late mother and I used to have lunch at The Tea Room at Bullocks Wilshire. The experience was like a trip back in time. The host, Mr. Lara, took care of that room like it was Chasen's or Perino's.
One Saturday afternoon I dropped my mother off under the gorgeous porte cochere and told her I'd meet her upstairs at the Tea Room after finding a place to park. Ten minutes later I was up at the reception desk in the Tea Room and told Mr. Lara I was to meet my mother who may have been seated in the interim.
He looked at his list and said "No, I'm afraid we haven't seated your mother as yet. Would you mind waiting?" I replied that would be fine and waited while other parties were seated. A few minutes later Mr. Lara called out to me in a booming voice "Mr. Melocchi! Please do follow me!" I was immediately the center of attention.
Mr. Lara explained that nobody told him they had already seated my "poor mother" and this was unacceptable, etc., etc. His histrionic display was the source of humor for both my mother and me.
Now I fear the laugh is on us. You see, Mr. Lara was not acting like this minor situation was really important to him. It WAS important to him. The care and consideration he took in his job are very rare indeed.
In all honesty I do not believe this care exists at all anymore. I am glad the building remains though I will miss The Tea Room and Mr. Lara.