Families Life and Life Only

Farewell, Monty’s

Soon-to-be the empty Monty’s

Here’s some breaking news off the social-justice and Southern California restaurant beat: Monty’s Steak House, an old money Pasadena hangout for 66 years, is closing Saturday, giving some 25 employees a week to find new jobs.
Come again? The Pasadena institution, where aging and bulging waitresses wore mustard-colored mini skirts until a decade or so ago, gives its loyal workers a measly one-week notice?
It wasn’t supposed to go down like this. The original closing date was July 31, but the deal is closing early, said Monty’s grand-daughter, Debbie Levine, general manager of the restaurant. She said she found out last Friday along with the rest of the crew.
It’s really sad for all of us. We all knew there was something in the works, but none of us realized that it would happen as quickly as it did.”
Levine said she isn’t sure what’s in store for the property on Fair Oaks Avenue, which also houses a a Chinese restaurant and a massage parlor; Monty’s employees said they heard it would become medical offices. Across the street is the monolithic Huntington Hospital, which recently added a huge wing.
Monty’s has been in the Levine family since 1941, when Monty bought an existing bar called Perry’s. The patriarch died about eight years ago and the restaurant is now owned by Debbie’s father, Dennis, and her uncle, Larry. They also own one in Woodland Hills.


  • More importantly for the moment, UC Irvine, where Celeste teaches social justice journalism, is playing Cal State Fullerton today at 1:00 PM Central Time in the College World Series baseball playoffs in Omaha. Baseball is a good lesson in justice, as each team starts with zero, must play by an impartial set of rules, gets no special government treatment, and has to earn success, unless the other team throws it away.

    I feel badly for the employees of Monty’s, but the employees have had more than a week to look for jobs. From what is presented, it looks as if the closing has been known for some time. Were the employees not going to start looking until it actually closed? Did some already have jobs lined up but received a week’s pay, anyway? Were some retiring? Were any other benefits offered to them during this period and after the close? What would have been enough severance–two weeks, a month, …?

    If I were financially able, I would have given the employees more severance pay. However, unless an agreeement existed to the contrary, the employees received something that was not legally required. Rather than griping about what was given to them, they should appreciate getting what they did.

  • If the closing date was supposed to July 31, then I surmise that the employees were being somewhat loyal by hanging in there until that date grew closer. Of course it’s easier to keep the job you haven than look for a new one, but if I were the owner, I’d be relieved that all my employees didn’t jump ship as soon as they found out about the restaunt’s closing. They’re hanging around was a win-win for both the owner and the employees – on the face of it. Now, to have the rug pulled with a week’s notice? Makes me wonder if July 31 wasn’t intentionally misinformation.

  • When having to close down a dot com business a few years ago, I told my employees that we only had money to pay them for one more month and after that their jobs would be gone. Each person thanked me for being straight with them and providing them time to plan.

    I got some criticism for doing it this way, but it seemed the right balance for me.

  • Long-time residents of Pasadena are becoming inured to closures like this as the “westside-ification” of Pasadena continues. I was never a regular at Monty’s, but I love the signage.

    Certainly the owners can come up with some severance pay (based on years of service) to compensate for the short notice.

  • Kelly,

    Yes, it is the continuing “westside-ification” of Pasadena.
    Pasadena, which once had so much soul, has sold theirs off for “Flats over retail” more traffic, more Starbucks and more chain stores.

  • The UC Irvine – Cal State Fullerton MCWS game is tied up in the 12th inning. This is a good game that you’re missing while worrying about saving the world.

  • Owner told chef not to order product and he didn’t. Were busy then we ever have been and we’re all there working out our last days with mortgages to pay and vacations planned. I spent $2500 dollar already on my vacation it’s hard to go to a potential employer and tell them you can work but your going to need this week off. Everyone was under the impression at the end of July would be last day. I’ll survive but this whole ordeal will cost me a bunch of money meanwhile yielding Monty’s a killing. They get to sell out there products because restaurant goers want to experience it one last time but were out of Prime rib, mash potatoes, crème Brule, cheesecake, Smirnoff, Johnny walker blue Ect. If you leave you don’t get unemployment and all you can think about is this is it no more Monty’s. I have really enjoyed working at Monty’s over the years and best of all have enjoyed the guests who frequented it. It was a very special place either you loved it or hated it. The people there have been like a family to me and I’ll miss it.

  • Jeremy, with a good attitude like yours towards serving the public and with your experience, you’ll find a new job quickly. Best wishes to you.

  • We moved to Pasadena two years ago, and about one year ago made our one and only trip to Monty’s, wondering if it was a Pasadena Musso-Frank’s. It wasn’t. It cost more than Musso’s, likewise served and priced everything a la carte, and had none of Musso’s atmosphere. Whatever I ordered, they were out of, so I had to select a second choice from a not too extensive menu. I have no idea how they managed to stay in business 60 years.
    Nonetheless, it’s unfortunate to see an established business sell out to big development money, to be replaced my something unmemorable I’m sure.

  • My family has been going to Monty’s for 4 generations. We’re all saddened at the loss. I now live in Boston and judge all steakhouses by Monty’s, and find most places to be expensive wannabes.

    Best of luck to the wonderful staff. Thank you for many wonderful times.

  • Just heard about it last week, was planning to go there on our wedding anniversary next week. Sad to lose a family friend. This is where my parents took us kids for our first “grown-up’ dinner. If you didn’t behave you weren’t going to be allowed back for a while. Always torn between the prime rib, the steaks, or that rack of spareribs. Lovedthe sourcream dressing and those huge baked potatoes. That family tradition started 54 years ago for me, and it was one of the few restaurants where instead of asking me how to spell my last name, asked “which one of the Googooians are you?” Well, I can still go to the one in Woodland Hils, but it won’t be the same.

  • How sad,this was my favorite hang out when I lived in South Pas 10+ years ago. They had the best calamari and have yet to find any that come close to it in all of my travels. The staff was wonderful and the atmosphere was very 1940’s… sad to that all fall by the wayside. I hope the staff did indeed find jobs, many were older people when I was there and its hard for older people to get service jobs.

  • Just went by the location today. The building is still standing. Don’t see what the landlord’s rush was.

  • Larry Levine was on the football team at Monrovia-Arcadia-Duarte High School when I was a “pep-cat” (drill team member)in 1948-49 and cheer leader in 1949-50. After the football games we would go to Monty’s and Larry’s father/owner would give us wonderful hamburgers and all the trimmings. We all were extremely grateful. He never charged us but gave freely. What a great place, what a great family! What great memories!

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