One time, I had bought this black velvet shirt, but it was too small for me. So I said, "I got a shirt I want to give you — you'd love it." I went upstairs and got it, because I was living here at the time. He went in the men's room, took his shirt off and put it on. He loved it.

Muhammad Ali came here a lot, because he had these stores [Muhammad Ali Rotisserie Chicken]. He got on the piano one night, believe it or not, and played.

Any good?

He was not bad. Not bad. Anyway, he was here one night with a party of about 18, and a customer here spotted Joe Frazier in the back — party of five. She went over to Frazier, and said, "Muhammad Ali is here." So they came over. The next thing you know, they were arm-in-arm, and the parties joined. We had Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, who had fought in the ring, together. They had a great time.

Anybody else?

Arnold Schwarzenegger came in, and in those days we required jackets. This was before he became [California] governor. He tried to put [a house jacket] on, but his biceps were so big, the jacket wouldn't fit on him. We said, "Come on in, forget about it."

This place hasn't changed much at all since it opened.

We have consistency. That's our modus operandi. You come back in 10 years later, 20 years later, and you get the same prime rib. I don't care who's in the kitchen. It's consistent.

If a restaurant is going to be good at one thing, what should it be?

The National Restaurant Association did a study as to what is more important — location, price, food, service, couple other things. Believe it or not, service was the most important. I learned early on, you can take a gentleman and make him a waiter, but you can never make a waiter a gentleman.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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