ATHLETES aren’t the only ones pumping up to new levels these days. Sports bars, once neighborhood dives where you gathered in front of one TV to cheer on your local team, have become megalopolises of TV screens.
Take Santa Monica’s new hotspot, the Parlor, a two-story cornucopia of 50 high-definition TVs of all sizes. In fact, with the abundance of TV screens in all places (though not yet above the urinals in the men’s room, as some places have) it might feel, if you stop by Sunday afternoon, as if Super Bowl XLII is following you, rather than the other way around.
It’s an eye-popping manifestation of bigger-better-more culture. “The day of one- or two-TV sports bars doesn’t exist anymore,” says Silas Gaither, co-owner of the Parlor. “Everyone wants the fast-paced, 50 plasmas, high def, in-your-face action. And it has to be high def.”
Gene Rotondo, owner of Long Beach’s long-running Legends, which reopened Dec. 1 after being closed 2 1/2 years due to a fire, says patrons crave high def. “The only thing I would say that had changed, which we’d experienced over 25 years, was the upgrading of technology,” Rotondo says. “I think there’s a big demand.”
On the Sunday of the AFC and NFC championships, the 300 or so fans who streamed through the Parlor’s entrances seemed to reinforce Gaither’s point. It was standing-room only.
Erica Quandt, a semi-weekly Parlor regular, wonders why the good old days of sports bars are seen as better.
“Everyone loves the idea of the sleepy small-town sports bar, with peanut shells on the floor, and the scruffy guy in the corner stool who hasn’t moved all week,” he says. “But when reality kicks in, that hole-in-the-wall bar has three TVs, inedible food, and a bartender who makes you want to wash your hands before you take a sip. With the Parlor, there are dozens of plasma TVs. It would be a challenge to look in any direction and not see a TV.”
BIG GAME, BIG SCREENS
A selection of locales:
THE PARLOR, 1519 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica (310) 395-4139
LEGENDS, 5236 E. 2nd St., Long Beach (562) 433-5743
BIG WANGS, 1562 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood (323) 469-2449
HARPERS BAR & GRILLE, 19333 Business Center Dr., Northridge (818) 349-3474
DANNY K’S CAFE & BILLIARDS, 1096 Main St., Orange (714) 771-9706
McMURPHY’S TAVERN, 72 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena (626) 666-1445