It was common knowledge around Hollywood that Matt & Ben were investors in the Continental, but the other owners spent over a year denying it. They even denied that Matt attended the grand opening of the restaurant, although he was spotted there by the media.
Apparently, Matt & Ben wanted a cozy place to hang out with friends, and the Continental fit the bill. But they didn't want to be besieged by screaming teenage fans, so they tried to keep it all hush-hush.
They didn't succeed. Everyone knew. It was the worst-kept secret in town.
It's hard to avoid drawing attention when your special place is also being visited by "friends" like Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore, Renee Zellweger, Winona Ryder, Joaquin Phoenix, Tori Spelling and Matthew McConaughey. No Doubt's Gwen Stefani celebrated her 30th birthday at the Continental. Matt was said to leave 100% tips to the waiters.
So the line at the door grew long indeed.
In early 2001 came news that Matt & Ben had sold their ownership in the restaurant. The story (according to People magazine) was that Matt was one of the victims of a crooked "financial advisor" (Dana Giacchetto, who had swindled a number of celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz). That much is true. The rest of the story was that as a result of that $100,000 loss, even though that court case didn't involve the Continental, Matt & Ben had decided that they didn't spend enough time in L.A. to keep an eye on their investment in the restaurant. So they pulled out.
But apparently it isn't true. Someone who works at the Continental told me that Matt & Ben are still investors, although their busy schedule keeps them from coming in as often as before.
Recent celeb visitors include actor Giovanni Ribisi, boxer Evander Holyfield, Rick Fox (of the Lakers), and Marcellus Wiley (of the San Diego Chargers).
So, if you decide to come to the Continental and check it out for yourself, what can you expect?
The word "swank" keeps coming up in reviews of the place, and indeed inside you'll find a hybrid restaurant/bar/lounge featuring a black, white & gray decor & exposed ceilings. The menu features California-Continental cuisine. Chef Jason Molinar blends Cajun and Asian influences on items such as Spicy Asian Shrimp Cocktail, Macadamia-crusted Halibut, Fresh Island Ahi and Bananas Foster (the house specialty).
They like old fashioned drinks here. Expect to see lots of cocktails and the house drink: an apple martini. Oversized martini glasses decorate one wall. They even have a chocolate martini for dessert.
Prices, as you might expect, are high.
The Continental serves lunch on weekdays and dinner Monday through Saturday. The weekend action usually peaks around midnight.
And if you see Matt
or Ben? Be kind, pretend not to notice.
Getting there: The Continental is located on the southwest corner of Wilshire Blvd & Hamilton Drive, in east Beverly Hills, between La Cienega and San Vicente Blvds. From Rodeo Drive, go south to Wilshire Blvd., turn left (east) on Wilshire, and go east a mile and a half to Hamilton Drive. The restaurant will be on your right (south) side.
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