Holy Cow! Harry Caray's ghost, The Pantry sold and Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Famed Chicago restauranteurs, the Jahanguiri family have purchased The Pantry at Rancho Santa Fe. A soft opening is expected later this month with classic touches and continuing commitment to classy, elegant new American comfort cuisines.
(6024C Paseo Delicias, PO Box 1297, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067)
However, we digress.
Hall-of-Fame baseball broadcaster Harry Caray was a legend of the brightest sort, known as much for his effervescent personality and reputation as the bon vivant of all bon vivants, as for his knowledge and love of baseball, which was immense.
During Caray's picaresque journeys through life including stints with the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Oakland A's and, of course the woebegone Chicago Cubs, he not only led the second line, but took over the band when it came to haunting bars and restaurants throughout the land.
Two of Caray's FAVORITE places: Toulouse on Rush Street and Yvette, also in the Chicago entertainment hub known as the Gold Coast.
The Jahanguiri family were the folks behind Toulouse and Yvette, famously known for dark and mysterious, intimate and romantic ambiance punctuated by terrific jazz stylings and classy classic French cuisine.
Bob Jahanguiri (photo, left) was the man behind Caray's prime haunts and a longtime friend and confidante. He was at The Pantry on Monday helping brother Mozy Jahanguiri, a Plano, Texas business and mediation consultant who also -- it's all in the family -- has a Dallas restaurant, remodel and get ready for a soft opening expected later this month.
Mozy Jahanguiri will own and operate The Pantry, which retains the name and much of the menu, supplemented by the magic Jahanguiri touch. The Jahanguiri's declined to disclose the purchase price. Dan and Michiro Bohlen, The Pantry proprietors, will continue with their Encinitas restaurants, notably East Village Asian Diner, as they continue to develop local restaurant properties.
As Rancho Santa Fe residents know well, the very popular The Pantry on Paseo Delicias featured a casual neighborhood atmosphere, delicious made from scratch new American comfort food and remarkable wine list at reasonable prices.
And as Ranch residents also know, one of America's 10 wealthiest communities features its unfair share of professional athletes and baseball players, including Padres manager Bud Black, Trevor Hoffman, Mike Sweeney, Brad Ausmus, Mark Loretta, Steve Finley, Rick Aguilera, Kirk McCaskill, Jack McDowell to name but a few. Not to mention fellow A-list sports broadcasters Dick Enberg and Jim Lampley and former Padres owner John Moores.
Add to this mix of cuisine, baseball and fun, the ghost of Harry Caray, now at The Pantry plate as Bob Jahanguiri spun a few (tall) tales of Harry Caray gone wild.
Caray used to sing 'Take me out to the Ballgame' to the crowd during the traditional 7th inning stretch. It became so popular, Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck, as-in-Wreck, Jr., turned on the mic at the ballpark so people could hear the -- shall we say -- definitive rendition. Caray, and company, transferred the tradition to the tonier climes of Chicago's North Side and Wrigley Field where he ruled, and waved somewhat unsteadily at the crowd due to alleged Budweiser consumption for nearly 20 years.
Jahanguiri often visited Caray in his WGN-TV and radio booth, although not as often as Caray visited Toulouse, one of his favorite haunts. On one fine Cubs off-day, Caray, Jahanguiri and the portable party people went back to the South Side, Comiskey Field, sitting, of course, in the press area. As 'Take me out to the Ballgame' began on the stadium organ, Caray grabbed the hot mic and started bellowing out the song to the crowd's utter delight.
Ah, the only problem with this fine act was the fact the Veeck regime had long since wrecked. Current Sox ownership didn't take kindly to their former announcer, now with the arch-rival Cubs, taking over the crowd's beer and booze-soaked vibes. The powers that were abruptly killed Caray's mic.
Caray didn't care. He kept singing anyway, even louder if that were possible, and you know what, so did the fans, who Jahanguiri swore, sounded louder than ever, their enthusiasm trumping good sense and tired lungs.
Another time, Caray kept saying he was going to Toulouse throughout the broadcast, maybe a dozen times, or more, during a Cubs game. "I'll meet you at Toulouse after the game," he kept saying. "After the game, Toulouse, Rush Street."
Not that Jahanguiri minded the publicity, what restaurateur doesn't; only problem was Toulouse was not scheduled to Lautrec after the night game, i.e. it was supposed to be dark.
As they say somewhere, oy vey, Jahanguiri rushed to Rush Street and kept the jazz club eatery open after the game. Sure enough, Caray, and entourage, showed up late, way late as was his wont, keeping the joint jumping through dawn.
Yet, as the Sphinx held its mysteries, Caray unlocked one of his.
"Why did you keep telling people, Toulouse was going to be open?" a confused Jahanguiri said. Caray looked at him and laughed. "I was supposed to meet a bunch of people with (the) Kansas City (Royals) for dinner tonight," he said, "but forgot to tell them where to go. I wanted to make sure they knew where to go."
Another time during a national broadcast of the Cubs game, when Caray went radio-only for Chicagoland, he insisted Jahanguiri sit next to him in the booth. But again, why? As Caray said, he knew the national cameras would shoot him during the game and wanted to get Jahanguiri some air time, just or fun. "Harry was the greatest," Jahanguiri said.
Good times on The Pantry patio, then. With remodeling soon to be complete and a brand new downtown bistro's time to shine soon at hand, expect more sweet sounds, fine food, and if you're lucky, the ghost of Harry Caray just this side of Wrigleyville, Chicago or Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe.
(Photo: Mozy Jahanguiri supervises remodeling at The Pantry, 6024C Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067)