A bar recently opened in Hollywood would appear to have a few impediments to commercial success.
Their saloon, notes one of its three owners, Josh Wells, “has no name, no advertising, no sign and it’s on a hard-to-find street. You can’t do better than that.”
It also has a steady line of patrons more than willing to wait outside to get in.
In its past, this nameless place was once called the Gaslight. And Sewers of Paris. And Cosmo’s Alley. Everyone from Lenny Bruce to The Doors is said to have performed there.
It’s one of those Hollywood establishments whose fortunes rose and sank with the neighborhood.
At the moment, the seedy neighborhood’s tide would appear to be out, but this might change soon.
A variety of factors could lead this section of Hollywood into a night scene rebirth. It’s centrally located. Rents are affordable.
Space is available. And, perhaps most important of all, there are no residents to complain about noise.
Already half a dozen cutting-edge gathering places--some with alcohol, some without--have opened within walking distance.
“It’s beginning to get a New Yorkie kind of vibe,” says Solomon Mansoor, co-owner with Wells and Bruce Perdew.
One sure sign of the area’s readiness for an upsurge is that Wells, Mansoor and Perdew chose it. In the past, they’ve been individually or collectively responsible for such successful clubs as Plastic Passion, Dirt Box, Scream and Egg Salad.
Those were the days when the three could agree on a name. With this bar, they’ve yet to come up with a title they could accept unanimously.
“There’s nothing worse than opening a business and hating the name,” says Wells. So the place--which Perdew describes as “a nightclub meets a bar"--remains nameless.
What they were able to agree upon was the redesign of the building. The basic idea was to “get down to the natural dreck,” says Wells. “We had to sandblast a lot to get that.”
With the basic element of the building being red brick, to a large extent this is what forms the decor. The brick gives the interior a classic feeling.
And the fact that the archway between two of the rooms appears to have been opened with a jackhammer lends the interior a European postwar look.
The club includes a generous bar area, a small stage set beneath a reproduction of a Caravaggio mural, an upstairs lounge area and an outdoor courtyard that, with its cement walls and metal gate, is a bit on the severe side.
One patron observed that it “looks like the exercise yard in ‘Midnight Express.’ ”
Charmless though the courtyard is, it adds a refreshing extra dimension to be able to stand outdoors having a drink. And there are plans to add some greenery.
As would be expected, the bar’s clientele are what patron David Cordoba calls “veteranos of the night"--regulars on the local club scene who stop by for a drink on the way somewhere else.
It’s a very convivial group. Having to be 21 to enter, the crowd seems to be a bit older than what might be found at an underground rave.
“I go to those clubs now and I feel really old,” says Wells, who’s 28. “Now that we have a bar, we can hang out with the old folks.”
Name: To be decided.
Location: 1608 N. Cosmo St. (at the corner of Selma Avenue).
Hours: 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. nightly.
Cost: Domestic beer, $3. Imported beer and mixed drinks $3.50.
Cover: “Never have, never will,” says Wells.
Door policy: 21 and over. IDs are politely checked at the door. The bar holds 115. Next in line gets in, with little favoritism.