If there’s one thing that truly gets me excited, it’s Disney history. I consider myself something of a Disney history buff, and I haven’t learned anything new in quite a long time. That changed tonight, and I’m so excited to share this tidbit I recently discovered. If you’re a Disney fan, especially a fan of Walt Disney himself, then a stop at L.A’s Tam O’Shanter has got to be on your bucket list.
Situated in Los Angeles’ Los Feliz neighborhood sits a restaurant that looks a bit out of place. It doesn’t just look like it’s in the wrong neighborhood; it looks like it’s on the wrong continent! The Tam O’Shanter is a delightful Scottish Pub designed to look like a fairytale Scottish cottage. The 100-year-old restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants in L.A but that’s not why people flock to it. Though it serves a traditional pub menu, it’s famous for its Prime Rib. That’s not why people line up to eat here either (though it certainly doesn’t hurt)!
The inside is just as charming as the outside, if not more so, but one particular table draws the attention of guests. Table 31. Above that table hangs a plaque that designates this table as different from the rest. You see, this is the table where many of The Disney Brothers Studios’ groundbreaking ideas were hatched.
In 1923 Walt Disney and his brother Roy had just moved to Los Angeles from Marceline, Missouri. They leased a studio in the Los Feliz neighborhood and frequented the Tam O’Shanter often. In those days, the studio was far too poor to have its own cafeteria, so Walt and his animators would visit the pub and, more often than not, sat at table 31. They did so often enough in the 1920s and 1930s that they joked that Tam O’Shanter was “the Disney Studios commissary.” Walt, who was famous (or infamous, depending on who you asked) for his simple taste in food. He always ordered a burger.
Many characters came to life in this restaurant after Walt or another animator sketched an idea on a cocktail napkin. In fact, legend has it that the Storybook style architecture of the Tam O’Shanter was the inspiration for Snow White‘s cottage. This has never been confirmed, but the restaurant owner swears it’s true.
Above the table is a sketch of Mickey Mouse in a traditional Scottish kilt in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle given to the restaurant by Imagineers in 2022 to celebrate the restaurant’s 100th anniversary. The restaurant’s lobby has a beautiful drawing of the original owner Lawrence Frank (founder of Lawry’s Restaurants), surrounded by Disney characters all dressed in traditional Scottish garb. The sketch is signed by “Walt Disney and Staff, 1958.”
If you find yourself in Los Angeles, you absolutely cannot miss this fantastic restaurant. I’m absolutely fascinated by its history and cannot wait to pay it a visit myself! There’s something magical about visiting places Walt Disney visited. That’s why Disneyland is so very near and dear to my heart.