If you’re not familiar with the name Gene Simmons, you’ve been living under a rock (and roll). He is the co-founder of the rock band, KISS, America’s #1 Gold Record Award-winning group of all time, in all categories (RIAA), a band that has sold over 100 million albums worldwide, and continues to sell out stadiums and arenas around the world, breaking box-office records set by Elvis and The Beatles. But Simmons isn’t just a musician—he and bandmate Paul Stanley segued their love of music and food into the restaurant Rock & Brews, a casual spot with a musical vibe focusing on gastropub type fare with locations in Los Angeles, Cabo San Lucas, Maui, Orlando and Albuquerque, to name a few. Here, this rock ‘n roll legend shares his haute secrets to the City of Angels.
Where were you born: I was actually born in Haifa, Israel. I came here with my mother when I was 8 1/2 years old. Legal immigrants.
How long in LA: Oh, my goodness. I have been living in the Sunshine State on-and-off since 1979. For a while in Malibu, and then in Beverly Hills.
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Occupation: Co-Founder of KISS, author, public speaker, actor, entrepreneur. Sometimes when I talk about our little band, I sound like an infomercial. But truthfully, I can’t believe the journey I’ve been on and the opportunities America has given me. KISS is America’s number one gold record award winning group of all time, and all categories (RIAA), quite astonishing really, because we never played the singles game. You know, the burden on artists to come up with sing-song jingles. We mostly ignored all that and just turned up the guitars to 11 on a scale of 10. Somebody’s got to do it. Here we are 43 years later, with our own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and still, the biggest thrill continues to be to play for the fans around the world. We start our European tour in Moscow, on May Day, May 1st.
Favorite Restaurant: Rock & Brews (all locations). Great food, craft and international beers and a rock –inspired environment.
I am proud of many things I have been fortunate enough to be a part of, but right near the top is our wonderful restaurant chain, Rock & Brews (RockAndBrews.com). Early on, we all knew you didn’t have to leave home to have a bite to eat. In fact, staying at home and eating there would save you the headache of traffic jams. So, from the time you walk into Rock & Brews, until the time you walk out, our job is to make your tummy happy and put a big smile on your face. We keep growing by leaps and bounds. We just broke ground on our very first Rock & Brews Casino Resort, with the Kaw Nation and Kaw Gaming, Inc. I’m proud to say I even performed a wedding for a high-end couple at our El Segundo Rock & Brews location. So, what can I say. Maybe this sums it up. You may not be a rockstar, but we sure as hell intend on making you feel like one.
Best Sushi: I like a place called Shu, in Bel Air. I can say a few words in Japanese, and anytime I eat there, my friends roll their eyes when I try to converse with the server in Japanese.
Best Italian: Madeo’s. It’s in Westwood, California. It has been a staple in Los Angeles for decades. It was a place that members of The Rat Pack frequented, and not just for the celebrity sightings. Great pastor doesn’t come out of a box.
Best dessert: Purple Rain Drops at Rock & Brews restaurants. This is where I get to forget about my girlish figure, and throw caution to the wind. Purple Rain Drops are about as much fun you can have with your pants on.
Best place for a romantic date: The Strand House in Manhattan Beach overlooking the ocean and the pier. You can’t beat the views, and the ocean breeze. The food rocks. Treat a girl right, and she will bestow her favors upon you.
Best Sunday brunch: I still like the classic Beverly Hills Hotel brunch on Sundays. It’s a tradition, and it has been going on for many decades. All the Hollywood stars and starlets used to come in and let people gaze at them, while they were chowing down on eggs benedict and maple banana walnut waffles. I love walking in and hearing the maître d’ greet me with “Hello Mr. Simmons, so nice to see you again”. Class.
Best place for a power business meeting: Zi[email protected] or the “Green Room” at Shade Hotel Manhattan Beach. Shade might not be in central Beverly Hills, but it’s worth checking out. The nooks and crannies of this very cool environment has the most interesting and beautiful people. A great place to unwind, and do business.
If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? Shade Hotels in Manhattan Beach or Redondo Beach. Great, modern boutique hotels with excellent accommodations and service.
Favorite shopping venue/boutique: Well, I am the male of the species, and therefore (pardon the cliché — though still true), I won’t go shopping unless and if I know exactly what I’m shopping for. But if I want to buy a Rolls-Royce, I know where the dealership is.
Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: There are some very good Beverly Hills private jewelry people, who can tailor make jewelry, or have access to estate jewelry. One of the great jewelry guys is Stan Roth.
Best Spa: I would have to defer to Shannon on this one. Although she and her girlfriends often like to run away to Canyon Ranch.
Favorite Charity Event: I am a big supporter of military and veterans’ causes. So, my favorite charity event is the annual Veterans Day celebration at Rock & Brews restaurants nationwide, where all Vets eat free.
Favorite Cultural Event: I love the various cultures and ethnicities and the various festivities that surround them. The Cinco De Mayo festival is not to be missed. And, if you really want to have fun, check out the parade on Santa Monica Blvd. when literally thousands and thousands of very proud and spectacularly dressed outfits parade up-and-down the streets by our LGBT Friends.
Favorite Cultural Institution: Rock ‘n’ roll. It started with blues, then went to rockabilly, jazz, and finally to rock ‘n’ roll. It continues to be there. A genre of music that plays in stadiums around the world.
Best Steakhouse: I like Lowery’s Steak House. Sometimes you just want a good steak and a baked potato that sticks to your ribs. No fancy frills. Nothing on the menu that you can’t pronounce.
Best Pizza: When I was growing up, I took Ray’s Pizza in New York City for granted. And then I had pizza in Davenport, Iowa. And then I understood. Since then, I have actually fallen in love with Chicago’s deep dish pizzas. And although not too fancy, always tasty, California Pizza Kitchen.
Best Lunch: Rock & Brews restaurants, especially the Demon Chicken Sandwich.
Best Gym/Athletic Facility: Schwarzenegger worked out there and so I have all the greats. If you’re in Los Angeles, go down to Gold’s Gym. The last thing you want to hear on the speakers is French alternative trance music, while your trainer has a pair of purple speedos on. Go there to sweat and stop fooling around.
Best Massage: Shannon.
Best Limousine/Driving Service: Limo Connection.
Best Museum/Exhibit: Los Angeles Natural History Museum.
Describe your city in three words: Although it is difficult for me to completely give my heart to one city, the way Tony Bennett gave San Francisco his, I would say Los Angeles has many of the things that might get you to say it is your home.
Three words to describe LA? L A ROCKS.
Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore: The Grand Canyon pretty much takes the cake. The idea that this great, natural formation of millions of years to be carved out simply by the rivers that run through it, is astonishing.
All-around favorite spot in Los Angeles: Rock & Brews
Best Aspect of Los Angeles: Part of LA? I live there.