Los Angeles Times

Think of it as a sampler plate

When Guy Starkman decided to invest in Valley nightlife, his goal wasn't to be the next big thing.

"I wanted something that would last for 30 or 40 years," says Starkman. "Not, ooh, look at us, we're cool for two weeks on a Thursday."

Starkman, who's been running the family business, Jerry's Deli, since 1991, says he wasn't fishing for Paris Hilton sightings. He had his eye on an even bigger prize: bar mitzvahs, and lots of them.

When envisioning Guy's North, the sister club to his Beverly Boulevard hub Guy's, his goal was to create a versatile space that would easily lend itself to the Valley's private-party set at half the cost of a Hollywood venue.

To that end, Guy's North fills the bill.

But the new spot located on the second level of Pinz, the good-time bowling center adjacent to Jerry's Deli in Studio City, is proving to be everything to everyone.

It can be intimate, just a few dozen friends knocking back drinks on a Thursday night. Or it can be red-carpet central, with a capacity that can expand to 600.

The trick's in the design.

When guests walk up the stairs from Pinz, there's a main clubbing area to the right and a smoking patio straight ahead. On nights when business is brisk, multiple VIP rooms open up to the left of the stairwell, revealing additional DJs and dancing areas and a gaming room for some pool-shooting antics.

There are some nice perks too.

For one, there's tons of free parking in the lot next to the venue and ample street parking. (In Hollywood on a weeknight, expect to pay $15 for the privilege of parking.)

And as you'd expect, it's low-key, Valley-style.

"It's really unpretentious," says Ian Drew, a Hollywood editor who regularly frequents Guy's North.

"In Hollywood, you have to avoid this person, or you don't want to talk to that person. At Guy's North, all of the politics are removed but you still get to see the kind of people you'd want to see."

On a recent Friday, the club was jammed with young Valley-ites dancing and hanging out, and the smoking patio, which overlooks Ventura Boulevard, was more congested than the 405 at sundown.

The dance area, backed by wavy walls made of ceramic tiles, has all the heat of a Miami club with dashes of Tel Aviv. Its designers, Todd DeMann and Christopher Scott for DeMann Designs, kept things simple. The club's muted red and brown colors are easy on the eye, and it seems the entire venue was designed for easy access.

"I come here after work on weekends just to let my hair down," says Evie Lee, a receptionist from Toluca Lake who says she crashed the club's opening night festivities in February to catch a glimpse of Travis Barker, who was performing with DJ AM. "I'm so glad the Valley is getting cooler."

Some other bonuses include dozens of LCD- and plasma-screen TVs, including a 12-foot-wide drop-down for film screenings. Then there's its proximity to Jerry's, the 24-hour deli, and Pinz's rock 'n' roll bowling, which also features a grown-up arcade where adults go full tilt all night.

And art lovers should take note of Pinz's famed 200-foot mural, painted on the wall at the end of the lanes. From Hollywood to Santa Monica, it's got the best of L.A. in full color.

With Guy's North added to the mix, the once sleepy stretch of Ventura Boulevard near Whitsett is quickly becoming a burgeoning entertainment center.

"I've been a Valley boy my whole life," says Starkman, who is married to famed Internet pinup Cindy Margolis. "Everyone I know lives here, works here, and now they can play here."

Heidi Siegmund Cuda may be reached at weekend@latimes.com.

Guy's North

Where: 12655 Ventura Blvd., Studio City

When: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays

Price: Cover charge varies.

Info: (818) 766-8311; www.guysbar.com

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