Think there aren't any restaurants open late in L.A.? Residents who work late beg to differ. Evan McNary rarely takes a break from work, but when he does, it's all steak and whipped cream.
It's 11pm on a chilly Thursday night in November. Evan McNary, a screenwriter and a producer/director of webisodes, finds solace in the warmth of the macaroni balls at Fred 62.
It's early for Evan, who usually makes his way to the friendly diner counter around 2am. I convinced him to sit with me anyway to talk whipped cream and Taiwan.
Laurenne: So why is this your late night spot?
Evan: I really like the vibe here. They serve comfort food. And there's always an influx of random people to watch.
I scan the place. There are a few couples scattered at the fifties diner booths and one guy at the counter scribbling furiously on a legal pad.
Evan: Maybe not right now. But I come here between one and three. That's when this place goes off. There's usually a line then, but I skip it and come right to the counter.
Laurenne: So, you're that guy sitting alone at the counter?
Evan: I am comfortable eating alone. I actually don't get much out of eating dinner and talking with people.
Laurenne: Oh no! Is this really hard for you right now?
Evan: I think I'll be all right.
Laurenne: Do you hate people?
Evan: Nah. I just work a lot. I make branded content, which means late hours. We pitch a lot, so we don't stop until the deadline is met. If I ever get off work at a normal hour, I use the night for writing. It doesn't make sense to stop until around one. Dinner at a normal time with other people seems like an interruption.
Laurenne: Hmm... Would you say you're a workaholic?
Evan: Isn't everyone in this town a workaholic? That's why people move to LA, right?
Our eyes shift to the man and his legal pad at the counter. Evan counts the people in the restaurant.
Evan: There are 20 people in here. I'd say 12 of them are currently writing a script.
Laurenne: Is that annoying? Lots of competition?
Evan: I just see it as a lot of company.
The menu is as long as a script. Our waiter suggests the Thai Cobb or the Turkey Meatloaf, both Fred 62 staples. We decide to wing it instead. I opt for the Veggie Royale, a grilled sandwich, and Evan gets the Chicken Pot Pie and a Peanut Butter Malt. We can't resist the Mac Daddy & Cheese Balls, breaded and fried BALLS OF MAC AND CHEESE!! When the food arrives, it doesn't all fit on our table.
Evan: These portions are ridiculous. I forgot.
Laurenne: This is why people hate Americans.
The malt comes in two parts, and we each take one.
Evan: Holy sh*t. This malt is good.
Laurenne: Man, this malt is amazing.
Evan: Wow. What a malt.
Laurenne: Man alive, this malt.
We finish the malt immediately. A peanut butter malt!
Evan: I've always wanted to order this, but I usually get a bowl of whip cream for dessert.
Laurenne: Just a bowl of whipped cream?
Evan: Yep. It's the perfect amount of decadence. Just enough to be satisfying, but not too bad for you.
Laurenne: Do they charge you?
Evan: Sometimes, but not usually. There's actually a 50% chance they'll forget to bring it, but the busboys are cool and they'll hook you up.
Laurenne: Are you sure you don't order that because you're cheap?
Evan: Yes! I usually get a steak, and that's decadent already. Don't want to overdo the decadence.
We stare down at our overflowing table. He has a point.
Laurenne: So... you come here alone, sit at the bar, and order bowls of whip cream?
Evan: Yes, and sometimes I send bowls of whip cream to other tables. People like it. I've never had a bowl of whip cream rejected.
Laurenne: Are you known here as the lone counter-sitter sender of whip?
Evan: That's the thing...There are always such different types of people here, so I don't really see the same people. It's random. People from the beaches, North Hollywood, Downtown. I never leave here without having a conversation with someone new.
Laurenne: Who is the most interesting person you've met so far?
Evan: It might not be interesting to you, but once I talked for a long time to this girl from Taiwan. Neither of us knew what the other was saying, but we tried really hard. We mainly pointed and gestured. It was one of those situations where you're both happy to connect, but there's really no obligation for anything else.
Laurenne: Did she like the whipped cream?
Evan: Of course.
Laurenne: Do you think she went home and told the Taiwanese that Americans eat bowls of whip cream after dinner?
Evan: Yes, she told all the Taiwanese about me.
We give our leftovers to people outside. It's past midnight now, and the famed Vermont strip in Los Feliz is sprinkled with people on the way to fill up the booths at Fred 62. They have no idea they'll be missing out on a specially delivered bowl of whipped cream. Evan and I stand under the Vermont street lights, our stomachs filled, and say what can only be said after a dinner like that:
Evan & Laurenne: Man, what a malt.
1850 N. Vermont Ave., 323-667-0062
[Photos by A.Rios/R.E]
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