Club to Reopen on Cruise Ship in Marina del Rey

Times Staff Writer

Heartbreak, a hip nightspot of New York origin that folded earlier this year in Hollywood after only three months because of city permit problems, is reopening later this month in a new location: a cruise ship docked in Marina del Rey.

The '50s-style dance club and restaurant hopes to avoid similar permit problems by chartering a ship that already has the necessary dance and liquor permits. The Spirit of Los Angeles, a three-level, 200-foot long, 1,000-passenger cruise ship, has been offering brunch, lunch, dinner and weekend party cruises out of the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro since April. The capacity for dinner is 600.

The ship will move from San Pedro to Marina del Rey's Fisherman's Village on Fiji Way on Monday nights, the only night Heartbreak will operate. It will open from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. beginning Sept. 25. The ship will remain docked.

There are several boat companies that offer similar dining and party cruises, but Heartbreak is believed to be the first permanent nightclub to open on a regular basis on a cruise ship.

May Run Afoul of County

But although the ship has its liquor and dance permits, it may still run afoul of the County Department of Beaches and Harbors, which oversees the marina. Chris Klinger, deputy director of the department, said he is concerned that there may not be sufficient parking at Fisherman's Village for existing restaurants and the club, and whether a ship as large as the Spirit of Los Angeles can safely dock at a nearby pier.

Klinger said he has had preliminary talks with ship officials, but that final approval for docking has not been given.

Publicist Richard Lewis, who is a partner in Heartbreak and represents the cruise ship company, said moving the club to Marina del Rey will make it more accessible to patrons in the Westside. In addition to celebrities--Emilio Estevez, Justine Bateman, Woody Harrelson and Vanna White were regulars during the short life of the Hollywood club--he said he hopes to attract many of the same patrons who dine at chic Westside eateries.

Lewis said Monday was selected as the one night to open with the hopes of recreating a New York habit of Monday night as the hip night to go out clubbing.

"In New York, people who live in Manhattan go out of town for the weekend, and people from New Jersey and the surrounding boroughs come into the city for the night life," he said. "On Sunday, people who live in Manhattan come back into the city, and on Monday night they are ready to go out dancing. We want to make Monday the night to go out in Los Angeles."

Club owner Lenny Berg said reopening the club on a ship allowed him a quick way to get back into business without the delay and hassle of obtaining the necessary permits.

"There are also no neighbors," Berg said, alluding to another source of problems for many nightspots.

Heartbreak was among a handful of New York offshoots that opened with great fanfare earlier this year only to close because of run-ins with city officials over permits and complaints from neighbors.

Heartbreak opened Dec. 27 on North La Brea Avenue and closed in March when authorities discovered that it was operating without the proper permits. Berg maintains that the former owners of the site had assured him that the necessary dance and liquor permits were intact.

The old club had a capacity of 152 and offered a game room and VIP lounge in addition to the dance floor and restaurant. The new Heartbreak will offer dancing on the main floor of the ship, live entertainment and dining on the second floor, and a game room and VIP lounge on the third floor.

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