A California friend of Linda Ronstadt was in Washington recently checking out real estate: Frank Casado, owner of Lucy's El Adobe Cafe in Hollywood, Jerry Brown's favorite restaurant.
"I'd probably call it El Adobe Washington," Casado says of the place he's "thinking about opening" at Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street NW.
"The area [around Bassin's Restaurant, which was destroyed by fire last October] is kind of run down," Casado says, "but I feel like it's coming back up, you know what I mean?"
In the annals of California pop history, Lucy's is the place where Gov. Brown first met Ronstadt about eight years ago, before he became the state's No. 1 tax-cutter and she its top torch-singer.
"My wife [Lucy] introduced them right over there in that booth on a Saturday when there were not too many people," Casado recalls. "she just brought him over and said, 'Jerry, I'd like you to meet Linda Ronstadt.'
See RESTAURANT, D6, Col. 1 RESTAURANT, From D1 He sat down and they started talking. It was a quiet afternoon."
Lucy's, as its regular customers call it, is the type of place where a governor would meet a rock star.
There is at least one place like Lucy's in every major city-Duke Zeibert's is a local example-a cross-cultural rendezvous where the gregarious elite of sports, politics, entertainment and news intermingle. And for 15 years, Lucy's has been serving the kind of clientele that leave autographed pictures behind.
Although the top price on Lucy's menu is $6 for carne asada , Casado numbers "Orson Welles, the Hearst sisters, Gore Vidal, Christopher Isherwood, and the one who flew over the cuckoo's nest [Jack Nicholson]" among his many patrons.
In recent years, the cafe has seen ranking California Democrats pay $100 a plate for tostadas and margaritas at a fund-raiser for the Hubert Humphrey Public Affairs Institue, Jack Carter and his father's presidentail campaign advisrs winding down with Gerald Ford's followers on election eve in 1976 and, on another occasion, Ronstadt careening down the aisle on roller skates while Dolly Parton looked on.
Before opening Lucy's in Hollywood, the Casados owned a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles that was frequented by city politicos. A delegate to the Democratic National Convention that nominated John Kennedy in 1960, Casado is co-founder of the Mexican American Political Association and a rallying firure in the Mexican American community, the largest minority group in Los Angeles and an emerging political force in the nation.
Displayed on a brick wall behind Lucy's cash register are photographs with congratulaotry messages from nearly every well-known political figure in California, as well as signed glossies from all three Kennedy brothers, Hubert Humphrey, Birch Bayh, Tom Hayden, and Sen. Gary Hart.
In the early "70s, the cafe became a hangout for struggling rock performers who worked at the numerous recording studios in the area, and Lucy's reputation soared with their success. The long-haired performers drinking midday margaritas and Mexican beer came to embody what has been called "the Southern California sound," and their chart-topping albums now line the walls in front windows-the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell and Ronstadt, among others.
But Jerry Brown clearly is the favorite son. His faded posters in Lucy's draped and dusty storefront windows make the place look like an abandoned campaign headquarters.
Casado has been a political volunteer for the Brown family since 1962, when he worked in the campaign of Brown's father, Edmund G. (Pat) Brown Sr. (and Casado's 28-year-old daughter, Patty, has been a consistent campaign worker for Jerry Brown.)
Sitting in the back booth of the 100-seat restaurant in the shadow of the Paramount Studios lot, Casado, 55, sips coffee, smokes and throws regular glances over his shoulder at the kitchen, where he usually holds court. In that same kitchen in 1968, he says, Borwn improvised a version of arroz con pollo that has since been featured on the menu as "the Jerry Brown Special," presently $5.
"We put it on there just for fun," Casado explains. "Nobody knew who Jerry was back then, that was when he was just on the Community college board. But it stayed there, and look at him now, running for president."
Though Lucy's presently is his only restaurant, "you have to kind of look ahead at things a little bit," Casado says. The Washington opening "would be between now and 1980 because I don't want to go there just for the business end of it. I'd have to have a reason for going. I wouldn't want to be in that Washington cold alone.
"Jerry and Linda celebrate their birthdays here," he says. "If they get married, I'll make the food." When Brown won his second gubernatorial election last fall, after the obligatory downtown hotel ceremony, Brown insiders (Ronstadt included) concluded with a victory party at Lucy's as usual.
Casado is philosophical about the illustrious couple. "What's the matter with the president married to a rock 'n' roll singer? They used to marry society women and there's a lot of them that aren't worth a nickel. Hey man, that's what this country's all about, anyway. You grow up in Airzona and become a rock star and make it and end up marrying a guy who's gonna be president. What's wrong with that?"
If plans for buying or leasing the old Bassin's don't work out, "we'll have to look around, right?" he says, adding that the Washington restaurant would be the same kind of place as Lucy's.
He says he'll be vack in Washington "around Cherry Blossom time" for some "groundwork."
"Maybe we'll do it undercover, so they won't mistreat us," Casado says, "like they did Jerry in New Hampshire." CAPTION: Picture, Frank Casado in front of Lucy's El Adobe; by Ann Summa for The Washington Post