By Terry Miller
The owner of Liberace Steak House in Monrovia is no stranger to celebrity, and he knows the importance of being patient.
Taking over T-Phillips in March, real estate magnate and Baja Ranch Markets (King Ranch Markets) founder Aner Iglesias Sr. had a dream to open a high-class steak restaurant in the city of Monrovia with a flair like no other restaurant this side of Las Vegas. He was hoping to open in August. The world had other plans.
The restaurant, as the name clearly implies, hosts a delightful and rare collection of Liberace’s priceless costumes — all carefully encased in well-lit frames that pay a delectable homage to the extraordinary and legendary entertainer who passed away in 1987.
The only thing missing is the piano, at least for now.
The tastefully, albeit rather dazzling, yet-to-open steak house has delighted and intrigued passersby on Myrtle Avenue for several months during the pandemic. For some, the name means nothing, but to many people and late boomers, Liberace was a tour de force in the world of showbiz, and what better way to honor the performer than with a great steak with a candelabra.
City Councilman Larry Spicer has known Iglesias for more than 40 years and says his mouth is watering for the day Liberace’s Steak House opens. “I’ll be the first in line for that incredible steak when he opens,” Spicer said.
A casual look inside, especially at night, will thrill Liberace fans with one of the more famous (and rather heavy) sequined outfits he used to wear onstage. It is beautifully framed in a museum-like glass enclosure as if to beckon you into the entertainer’s lair.
Replete with chandeliers and memorabilia from the entertainer’s life, the steak house is one of a handful of officially licensed restaurants that can boast such a fine Liberace-inspired theme.
But alas, COVID-19 has put a hold on Iglesias’s exclusive and elegant plans for a truly gourmet steak house themed like no other. There was a brief time recently when he thought he’d be able to at least do some patio dining but all too quickly the state and county nixed that aspiration. The first of those business plans has been a complete re-engineering of Liberace Steak House.
Liberace’s musical talents were often upstaged by his effervescent, flamboyant, dry and sometimes self-effacing wit, such as some of the following quotes.
Of course, I couldn’t go out in the street in clothes like this, I’d get picked up. Come to think of it, it might be fun.
Gee, you’ve been such a wonderful audience that I don’t like to take your money. But I will!
When asked what he did with the money he won in a libel suit against the “London Daily Mirror” in 1959 he replied: I cried all the way to the bank!
Iglesias also hopes to share with Monrovia a selection of Liberace cars for special events. (We hope the 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V might be one. The entire car is covered with small-mirrored tiles, and with classic horses etched into them along the running boards.)
Monrovia Weekly will follow up on the restaurant’s future and keep you posted on all things related to the shut-down of restaurants during this pandemic.