Sergio Gonzalez, a beloved waiter who served the likes of Steve McQueen and The Rolling Stones at Musso & Frank Grill for nearly five decades, has died. He was 66.
Gonzalez suffered a heart attack at his home on Tuesday, according to a statement from Musso & Frank. That’s just a day after the Hollywood institution held a memorial service for another one of its veterans, bartender Ruben Rueda.
Gonzalez was just 19 years old when he started working at the restaurant as a busboy. He had been attending a naval academy in Veracruz, Mexico when he came to Los Angeles to see his grandmother.
After his uncle asked him to fill in for his shift at Musso & Frank for a few days, he ended up staying and being promoted to waiter. It would be his first and only job his entire life.
“My first customer was Buddy Ebsen, from The Beverly Hillbillies, and one of my regulars was Steve McQueen,” he told Los Angeles Magazine in 2013. “Johnny Depp and Keith Richards are my favorite customers. Me and Johnny, we go back so many years… When he had no job, before he became famous, he stayed here, drinking coffee.”
He once said that the Rolling Stones were the best tippers. In 2006, the band flew him to Mexico City so he could watch them perform live.
“Keith Richards’ assistant called me: ‘You’re going to the concert, so get your passport, go to LAX,’” Gonzalez said, according to Musso & Frank. “I stayed with the band in the Four Seasons hotel like a big shot.”
He also once recalled placing hot towels on the knees of infamous gangster Mickey Cohen, another one of his first customers.
Gonzalez is survived by his wife, daughter, three grandchildren and a son-in-law who’s worked at Musso & Frank for 15 years.
“For almost half of our 100 years, Sergio helped make Musso & Frank a home away from home for his valued patrons and colleagues alike, and we’re all heartbroken to bid farewell to this remarkable man,” said Mark Echeverria, the restaurant’s fourth-generation owner.
Musso & Frank, which marks its centennial this year, is currently planning a memorial for Gonzalez. He would have celebrated his 67th birthday in July.