A Valet Parking Pioneer's Decades of Service

Herb Citrin and employees of his Valet Parking Service outside Lawry's Prime Rib restaurant i i

Herb Citrin and employees of his Valet Parking Service outside Lawry's Prime Rib restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif. Mandalit del Barco, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Mandalit del Barco, NPR
Herb Citrin and employees of his Valet Parking Service outside Lawry's Prime Rib restaurant

Herb Citrin and employees of his Valet Parking Service outside Lawry's Prime Rib restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR

Herb Citrin is widely known as "Mr. Valet," having pioneered valet parking nearly 60 years ago, when he inherited the parking concession at Lawry's The Prime Rib restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif.

His business is still thriving there, as well as at the Playboy Mansion, the Academy Awards and at more than 60 other venues across the nation. This week, Lawry's celebrated its 60th year in business with a tribute to Citrin's decades of first-class service.

Citrin loves to share memories of the many celebrities he's done business with over the years. His worst client? Megaphone crooner Rudy Vallee.

"He was a real pain," Citrin says. "He had a big German shepherd in the back seat that would scare us, but we still parked his car. His tip was 10 cents — he was a real cheapo."

His favorite celebrity? Frank Sinatra.

"May he rest in peace," Citrin says. "Frank would come out and ask 'How many valets are working tonight?' If you said five, he'd give you $100. Each [valet] would get a $20 tip, which was more than they'd make in two days at some locations."

At 83 years old, Citrin announced this week he's finally going into semi-retirement — but will continue as a consultant to Valet Parking Services. "Old parking lot attendants never die," he says. "They just go on spinning their wheels."

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