Jerry Herman, former owner of The Spot, dies

Jerry Herman, former owner of The Spot Restaurant, died Oct. 25 at age 77.

Herman was born in Chicago to parents who emigrated from Russia. Following in the footsteps of his father who served in World War I and became a U.S. citizen, Herman served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

Jerry’s wife, Eileen, whom he sometimes called “Nurse Ratchet,” said he entered the restaurant business in Illinois in 1960, owning restaurants also named The Spot. He specialized in pizza and ribs, and also delivered them — even in the Chicago area’s “inclement weather.” In 1972 in Evanston, home of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, he received the first license to sell liquor, ending Evanston’s 117-year history as a dry community.

In 1978, his daughter Iris said, Herman moved to La Jolla and purchased The Village Cupboard, which he renamed The Spot. He admitted to customers and friends his difficulty in adjusting from Chicago to California ways — especially that bribes were not an acceptable way of doing business — and was surprised that restaurants couldn’t even provide free coffee to police officers, said customer/friend Howard Finkelstein.

Howard recalled an incident in which a health inspector repeatedly demanded that Herman put screens on the windows. He responded that he didn’t believe they were necessary.

The health inspector said they were to keep out flies, and after Jerry repeatedly pointed out that there were no flies present, the frustrated bureaucrat said, “What do you mean there are no flies in La Jolla?”

Herman responded: “The flies can’t afford to live here.”

He never did put screens on the windows.

Herman adjusted well, and during his 23 years of ownership, the gregarious “Spotman” extended his hospitality to countless customers, befriending many and charming all, said his cousin Nat Klein.

Herman loved boating, and was also enthusiastic and knowledgeable about cars, wine, art, and music.

At his request, the family will not host a memorial service.