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Legendary Musso & Frank Bartender Ruben Rueda Dies After 52 Years At The Iconic Restaurant

Ruben Rueda

Posted Monday, April 29, 2019 - 2:32 pm

Ruben Rueda, who worked as a bartender at Hollywood’s iconic Musso & Frank Grill for a remarkable 52 years, died Friday, April 26, of natural causes, at age 67, at Whittier Hospital Medical Center.

The announcement was made by Mark Echeverria, the restaurant’s COO/CFO/Proprietor, and a fourth generation family member/owner.

Founded in 1919, the legendary restaurant is currently marking its 100th anniversary this year.

“Ruben always knew just what a customer needed, whether it was an ear to bend, or a joke to lighten the mood,” said Echeverria. “He brought professionalism and kindness to his work every day, and his loss will deeply affect many guests and colleagues who long counted him as a friend. Our family has run Musso’s for four generations, and to us, Ruben was, without question, a member of our family.”

Pouring On The Charm For More Than Five Decades: 

Walking past Musso & Frank Grill in 1967 at the age of 19, Ruben Rueda (a native of Durango, Mexico), decided to simply walk in and apply for a job as a server assistant. After several years in that role, Rueda wound up serving as a bartender for the remainder of his 52 year tenure, working up until a few months ago.

From his place behind the bar, Rueda crossed paths with many of the brightest luminaries of the literary, entertainment and music worlds of the last half-century – notables such as Keith Richards and members of The Rolling Stones, Johnny Depp, Rock Hudson, Orson Welles, Raymond Burr, Charles Bukowski, Steve McQueen, John Lennon, and Gore Vidal were among his regular customers.

When asked about his role as “Hollywood’s Bartender,” Rueda would answer, “Mostly I like to talk to people, and I make people happy. That’s my job. But I don’t work at Musso & Frank because I want to work in a bar—I work here because I like these people—because I know these people. I work in the greatest place on earth. This is home. I see my customers more than I see my wife. I’ve been working here almost all my life. I’m a happy guy. And this place is here to stay.”

Added Echeverria: “Ruben helped define what Musso & Frank is all about by making guests feel both in another world—and yet very much at home—at the same time. He was renowned for treating each and every patron like a star—one of the many reasons he became such an integral part of the Musso & Frank ‘experience.’ I’m heartened that Ruben lived long enough to help us celebrate our  anniversary milestone. We will do everything in our power to honor his memory all year long, and for countless years to come.”

Rueda, who lived in Whittier, is survived by his wife, Maria Olga Rueda, a son, Leonard, who also works at Musso & Frank Grill as both a server and a bookkeeper, and a daughter, Cynthia, mother to Rueda’s two grandchildren Brooke, a UCLA student, and Sebastian, a student currently attending a university in Spain.

Plans are underway for a memorial service in the near future to be held at Musso & Frank in honor of Rueda.   

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