Two iconic bars closed their doors in the last week. In Manhattan, New York, the White Horse Tavern paused their legendary 139 year run to remodel after noted slumlord Steve Croman, purchased the property. On the other coast, new landlords (quickly ascending to Croman’s level of (in)decency) evicted the beloved Los Feliz institution, Good Luck Bar.
White Horse Tavern
A note on the door of Greenwich Village’s legendary bastion of bohemia, the White Horse Tavern, explains that the bar is closed for “some much needed repairs and upgrades.” However, locals are ringing alarm bells about the White Horse’s new ownership and the alleged ‘upgrades.’
In March, locals first learned that the building housing the White Horse was sold to notorious slumlord and felon Steve Croman. (Croman’s history of harassing tenants was documented in this episode of American Greed.)
The White Horse, itself, is now owned by Eytan Sugarman. Sugarman also operates several other high-profile properties including Southern Hospitality (which has Justin Timberlake’s name attached) and Hunt & Fish Club (which is co-owned by Trump crony Anthony ‘Mooch’ Scaramucci.)
Sugarman has repeatedly stressed that he has no intentions of changing the interior. “It’s a wonderful old building that just needs a little love. Have no fear, we have no intention of changing any of the historical elements that make White Horse Tavern the landmark that it is,” declared a statement posted on the door. “The new owners share this communities’ feeling of history and reverence for White Horse Tavern and are committed to maintaining and continuing this great legacy.”
Still, locals, such as City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, are not convinced of Sugarman’s sincerity. In fact, they are urging governmental protections.
“Although the new owner has pledged to maintain its history and preserve the legacy, we believe the interior will now be open to destruction and that a landmark designation of the inside of this cultural and literary treasure is necessary to insure its protection,” stated a letter to NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission cosigned by Johnson.
And, what a ‘history and legacy’! Founded in 1880, the pub is where Dylan Thomas famously indulged in one final bender before his death. Bob Dylan also was a regular as were James Baldwin, Jim Morrison, and Richard Farina. Notable misogynists writers of the 50’s and 60’s like Jack Kerouac and Norman Mailer were known for rowdy nights at the watering hole.
Ironically, Jane Jacobs devoted a large swath of her seminal anti-gentrification masterwork, Death and Life of Great American Cities to the White Horse. Jacobs argued that late-night institutions like the Tavern provided “eyes on the street” making neighborhoods safer rather than more dangerous.
Good Luck Bar
Although only 25-years-old, Good Luck Bar was an institution in LA’s Los Feliz. Despite a who’s who of F&B writers, actors, and locals among its list of regulars, the tiki-Asian themed late night spot closed their doors last Saturday (5.04).
Good Luck’s GM David Granger told the Los Feliz Ledger that the bar’s owners unexpectedly received an eviction notice last month. In 2012, Conroy Commercial Real Estate, purchased the building; the group is planning a hotel, but previously asked the bar to stay at the location according to Granger.
“I’m saddened for the customers and employees,” the GM lamented to LFL. “The people who make their livelihood here, they’ve got families, they’ve got kids, they’re part of the reason the business is successful.”
Ownership offered a farewell to their loyal patrons on social media. “Sadly, one more of the classic, idiosyncratic Los Angeles landmarks is being lost in the name of new development,” the good-bye stated. “Or, as our friend and neighbor, Joni Mitchell, once mused about the Garden of Allah, yet another lost treasure, ‘They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot, with a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot.’ We, like you, thought our hot spot was just fine.”
Good Luck Bar arrived along with a younger, hipper Los Feliz-Silver Lake scene in 1994, ushering in the neighborhood as we now know it. We could attempt to wax poetic here, but Esther Tseng already wrote the definitive ode to GLM for Los Angeleno. Check out her excellent piece here.
Article image from New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Phyllis Twachtman.