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Journalist Lunches at Church of Scientology Celebrity Center

Author Maria Bustillos takes a long, fascinating look back today via Awl.com at a groundbreaking 1990 LA Times series by Joel Sappell and Robert Welkos. She righly points out that the pair’s June 24-29 investigation into the Church of Scientology, the product of five years of old-school newspaper footwork, was far more courageous and substantive than the recent New Yorker-Paul Haggis piece.

As part of her report, Bustillos decided to take a late lunch at the Renaissance restaurant at the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Center on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. She gives the establishment an admirably objective thumbs up.

I asked to see a wine list, and the head waiter (whose French accent was so rich I thought he might be kidding, or practicing for an acting class) goes, “Red or white?”

“White, please,” I said with some trepidation. I can’t even tell you the last time I was in a Los Angeles restaurant that offered house wine only, without telling you a thing about where they got it from… But the Pinot Grigio was delicious, not that I am such an expert. A lovely unusually peachy color, fruity, flinty, crisp, and cold. I wish I had some right now.

Bustillos says she was never pitched a book, film, or separate Scientology tour during her meal. All in all, she recommends the Renaissance as a noteworthy slice of unusual LA sightseeing.

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