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The Secret to Fancy Meals on Family Vacation

Matt Villano

My 3.5-year-old and I had a blast in Los Angeles this past weekend. One of the highpoints: Brunch at The Ivy, a shabby-chic West Hollywood restaurant that’s a fixture on the celebrity circuit.

Normally—at, say, 10 a.m. on a weekend day—this spot is packed, with a line out the door (and paparazzi lurking like rats).

One of the benefits of traveling with kids, however, is that “normal” takes on an entirely different meaning in the context of meals. On the morning in question, L was out of bed and talking to her stuffed baby Aristocat (who is named, “Princess Baby Kit”) by 6 a.m. Two hours later, she was ready to chow down.

So we walked the five blocks from our hotel to the restaurant. And we were the first ones there.

What ensued was service I’m sure not even celebs receive. Four servers, all to ourselves. The owner, Lynn von Kersting, complimenting L on her green skirt and offering us free frappes.

My daughter and I lingered for nearly 45 minutes before we even ordered. L passed the time sketching the fresh roses and violets on our table; I savored my coffee while it was hot.

After breakfast, we lingered some more; chatting with von Kersting and her daughter, who is 25.

When L and I finally paid our bill around 9:45 a.m., the restaurant was just starting to get busy. L made a point of thanking each and every server, and blew von Kersting a kiss. As we headed back toward the hotel, my daughter took one last look at The Ivy and declared it “the best restaurant ever.”

No, we didn’t spot any celebrities during our weekend visit to The Ivy. Instead, for two hours while the rest of Los Angeles was snoozing, we were the stars of the show. It turns out that traveling with little early birds has its privileges; it’s up to us parents to seize the moment for all.