Hal's Bar & Grill moving to Playa Vista, but don't fret; a new Venice spot is planned

Hal's Bar & Grill moving to Playa Vista, but don't fret; a new Venice spot is planned
Hal's was the place where the neighborhood celebrated its special events -- even getting laid off, asMike Van Gorkom, center, andJeff Mickea were doing in 2009. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Hal's Bar & Grill, which for almost 30 years has served as a clubhouse and community center for once-funky Abbot Kinney Boulevard and the Venice art scene, is moving to the shiny new Silicon Beach development Playa Vista.

But before you spit out your coffee, plans are well underway to open another Hal's, not far from the original.


Hal's, run by Hal Fredrick and co-owners Don and Linda Novack, opened on Abbot Kinney back when the neighborhood was seedy, and it quickly attracted a crowd of artists and performers who made it home.

Partly because of the escalating rents that have come with the gentrification of the neighborhood — dubbed the coolest block in America by GQ magazine — Hal's closed April 26.

The last days were full of emotional farewells.

"The number of people who have had their first dates, engagement parties, baby showers, birthdays, anniversaries, it is unbelievable," says chief marketing officer Ellen Rudolph, who had her first date with her husband at Hal's.

"I've never known a place to hold that kind of place in people's lives."

The new Hal's in Playa Vista, a 4,700-square-foot space at the Runway Playa Vista shopping center, across from a movie theater and near a Whole Foods, will be different, she says. But the hope is it will fill the same role in the community.

"Hal's as a brand is evolving," Rudolph says. "It will not be the same in Playa Vista, and yet I think what Hal's did for Abbot Kinney and Venice — which was to become a clubhouse for a community — I think that's doable in Playa.

"Yes, we will have a younger crowd, and it's our job to be relevant and to be that place where people want to feel at home and have their celebrations."

But the Abbot Kinney crowd need not fear. Though the deal hasn't been completely worked out, Rudolph says there may be an announcement of a Venice Hal's opening near the old spot in the next couple of weeks. In fact, she says, it will probably be open before the Playa Vista place, which is scheduled for launch for December.

"[Co-owner] Don [Novack] would not leave Abbot Kinney," Rudolph says. "He has been committed to continuing to serve the Abbot Kinney community that he and the restaurant have become such an intrinsic part of.

"We're finding a way to make a win-win-win," she says. "A win for Hal's, a win for the community and a win for another restaurant that needs to and wants to reinvent itself."