At last, a Rick’s Café in Casablanca


Rick's Cafe, the mythical saloon from the 1942 film "Casablanca" has finally been transformed from celluloid to wood, glass and plaster thanks to the imagination and determination of an American woman enamoured of Morocco, Kathy Kriger.
Set in an old courtyard-style mansion built against the walls of the Old Medina of Casablanca, the restaurant - piano bar is filled with architectural and decorative details reminiscent of the film: curved arches, a sculpted bar, balconies, balustrades as well as dramatic beaded and stenciled brass lighting and plants that cast luminous shadows on white walls. Details have been added that go beyond the film set in terms of ambience and comfort - four fireplaces, banquettes and an intimate private dining with view of the fishing port provide the background setting for an international menu specializing in Casablanca's fresh fish, vegetables and fruit. Issam, a pianist from Rabat, provides the soundtrack to the sophisticated elegant surroundings. Guests steeped in the elegant atmosphere come to feel as though they are in the film, and each evening a new chapter unfolds in the lives of the characters who are part of today's Rick's Cafe.

Come to Casablanca and live the dream

I have lived in Morocco since 1998, serving as the commercial counselor for the U.S. Embassy. In the aftermath of 9/11, I decided to leave the government, stay in Morocco and do something that demonstrated true American values. Developing a Rick's Café in Casablanca seemed like a perfect way to do this. As I sent e-mails to friends around the world telling them about my plans, their excitement and enthusiasm gave me an idea. I needed to bring in investors, and what better way than "rounding up the usual suspects." So I designed a flyer that incorporated lines from the film ("Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, I'd like you to buy into mine") and received an overwhelming response. I created a company called The Usual Suspects, and suddenly money from all over the world was being transferred to "The Usual Suspects" in Morocco! When I was planning it I described Rick's Café as more than a restaurant and bar, but a tourism theme project. It captured my passion for architectural preservation, decoration, food, music and entertaining - and got built because of my perserverance and optimism. The development took two years - lots of laughter, lots of tears, and opened on March 1, 2004 to rave reviews. Rick's Cafe was already an institution thanks to the immortal film "Casablanca", and the spirit of Rick's has some of the mythical quality of the movie. Whereas gambling, black marketeering and occasional gunfire were central to the Hollywood Rick's, Casablanca's first Rick's Café has played upon other characteristics of the famous gin joint. And we've collected a teriffic cast of characters, some of whom seem to have been destined to be here. I'd like you to meet …
Kathy Kriger
Rick

Issam Chabaa
Pianist
Webmaster
Lenny Bluett
Pianist

Issam Chabaa, pianist extraordinaire, designer of our website and master of all things keyboard. When a friend called with his name and number I said, "Issam (pronounced eye-sam)? Well I hope he can play the piano as that name is quite a coincidence." Of course he could, and he does…the old songs, French chansons, Spanish ballads and of course "As Time Goes By" again and again and…

 

Lennie Bluett lives in Los Angeles and we brought Lennie to entertain for a month just after Rick's opened. Lennie's mother, May, was Humphrey Bogart's cook and Lennie, then 21, tried out for the part of Sam back in 1941. With powder in his hair, he gave it his best effort but he was just too young…and too tall at 6'5". We like to say after all these years he's getting his second chance.


© Copyright 2004 The Usual Suspects S.A. info@rickscafe.ma
248, Bd Sour Jdid. Place du jardin public. Ancienne médina. Casablanca. Morocco.Tél: +212 (0) 522 27 42 07 / 08   Fax: +212 (0) 522 48 78 84