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A Valet Parking Pioneer's Decades of Service

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

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."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.
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