How times are changing. The list is long why neighorhood bars are closing at an increasing rate: The bad economy, large screen tvs, pool tables and cheap beer aavailable at home, ICE, the internet, MADD, gentrification, gangs, etc. What we are losing is not just bars but the storys they tell inside. Some bars have been around for decades. Some with little change to the interiors that it’s like walking into the past when you enter the door – maybe the 80’s, 70’s, 60’s or beyond.
Here are some bars on the real Eastside that are no longer open. Many I had been to. Some I discovered too late. Some are waiting to be transformed. Some the contractors have already made them into something new.
Starting in the Northeast, Mi Barra, just a stones throw from the California Nigth Club (that’s the way it’s spelled on the sign) has been sitting like this for years. I remember For Sale signs posted on the exterior many years ago. Maybe its sold now just waiting for permits to knock it down or gut it out.
Here’s a bar I went to once about 5 or 6 years ago. I remember the chill atmosphere, cheap beer and food which was great for someone like me who likes to eat when drinking. By the time I got around to taking a pic, it was closed down and even the signs were removed. I never got a chance to ask it’s name.
Here is the location of the long ago closed gay bar Bon Mot on Figueroa. After 2 regulars were killed by alleged gang members and the LAPD refused to do much about it because they didn’t give a fuck about two fags, this bar birthed a civil rights movement to combat the problems.
Moving South into Boyle Heights, I’m not sure when this one at Chavez and Evergreen closed but I remember driving around the area and seeing it open many years ago. That was when I was afraid of the area and didnt venture into any bars. A 1987 Phone Book names it as Club Copas de Oro. In 1973 it was El Porvenir Club. In 1969 it was the Five Points Cafe.
Just down the street was Diamante, at First and Evergreen. This was the second bar in Boyle Heights that I went to. It was one of the few still open after midnite, so the group I was with left one closing bar and found this gem of a dive bar. (I should write for the local news). This bar had two rooms – one to sit and drink – and the other to play pool or pinball games. I dont know of any other bars in the area with pinball machines. The bar was recently transformed into a check cashing business.
Now in the Southside of Boyle Heights, there once was The Olympic Bar, just to the west of Indiana Street. It had always been closed when I went past it while on the bus to work and back. I got excited once when I saw the roof being repaired and even caught a glimpse of the pool table inside. When the work was done, a For Rent sign went up, mentioning a bar as a posible use. Unfortunately it was rented to a church group and the small letters that said the name Olympic Bar for many years were painted over.
Crossing the border into East Los and just a few blocks away from the Olympic Bar are the remnants of two bars on Union Pacific, Tully’s and Franks. I’m relying on my dad’s memory who told me of the goodtimes he and his buddies had after a days work at Zellerbach Paper Company (now a 99 Cent Only distribution center) across the street. The bars were rough in those days, he said. The locals claimed the bars as their own, not even considering employees from across the street as locals. Faded paint on the wall still shows the name Tullys, while the grey painted building that once was Franks is now a Piloncillo company.
In East LA there are 3 bars rotting away. The El Amigo Bar, the Smog Room, and one that I can not find the name anywhere. It has every appearance of a bar, including the giant satelite dish on the roof. Oddly a few months ago the exterior lights were turned on even though I have never seen the bar open.
And finally two out of the Eastside area. First is the Twin Gables. A bar at the eastern end of Olympic Boulevard in Montebello. I went there a couple times during my lunch break when I worked nearby. By then they just served drinks, and not the fine food like advertised on the tiles. And by the time this picture was taken, not even drinks were served – a fence was erected to keep cars out and the sign at the edge of the parking lot was removed. Hopefully the owner kept it as a momento.
Finally here is what’s left of Karlas Bar on Pacific in Huntington Park, having closed and in the process if becoming another business. The interior was long and narrow and the bar was one of the longest I had ever seen. Beyond that there was even room for a pool table. However I found the staff to be a bit rude.
I know I got fascinated with bars too late. I’m sure that there were a lot more that I don’t even know about that were great places for locals in their day. I drive past certain buildings that have clues that they may have been bars. I wish I had a hot tub time machine to find out for sure. Until time travel becomes a reality I will settle for stories.