I first met Brad Grey in 1985, I was 28 when I opened my first Maria’s Italian Kitchen in Sherman Oaks, it was smaller than it is now, seating only 30 people. He and His wife Jill would meet up with Gary Shandling during the time of the Larry Sanders show. They were all young, energetic starting out on a path I could never imagine… You see they weren’t Celebrities to me.
They were my loyal customers, they waited patiently for a table, and we learned of each other’s family. When it was time for his children’s birthday one year, I delivered the food to their home and when Brad opened the door he was shocked that it was me. When I told him that I could not get a delivery driver early Sunday, he was very appreciative.. and he always remembered that. He eventually moved from Sherman Oaks to Brentwood, and continued his loyalty to Maria’s. One Sunday I was invited to a local country club and I spotted Brad, I went over to him and said, “I’m not sure if you remember me… Maddy from Maria’s”. He smiled, “How could I forget you delivered my kids birthday meal years ago.” I then said, “Well then My Mother wants a walk on part for the Sopranos.” Brad smiled and said “send her in”. My mom never made it on the set of the Sopranos, but she is ready for her own show: Cooking and Cursing with the Alfano’s.
I am sad to hear of Brads passing, but I was more sad to read of the break up between he and Garry Shandling. I truly enjoyed watching the two of them collaborate over a meal in my little restaurant. Garry was a true comedian, shy in public, not wanting attention and was always kind to me. He appreciated that I remembered he was a vegetarian and that I genuinely cared about him as a real person and not as THE Larry Sanders.
In fact, when he hosted Saturday Night live,he invited me to the show live in NY. Las-lobos was the east LA band performing. I could not pass up that opportunity so I flew to NY for the weekend and spent the evening with the cast and crew of Saturday night Live, thanks to Garry Shandling. It was a once in a lifetime event, and I wish I had photos (that was before smart phones.)
I hope that somehow they will resolve their differences in another time and place, and Rest In Peace.
The restaurant business is challenging, difficult and ever changing. But what remains constant at Marias Italian Kitchen is the relationships we make with our customers and the memories we share. For that I am grateful.