Yes, King Eddy Saloon has changed hands yet again. The iconic Downtown dive bar was in a state of flux after Acme Hospitality Group (Beelman’s Pub, Laurel Tavern) took it over last year. There had been wild talk of bizarro guest-bartending nights (no signature cocktails, just straight spirits) by Proprietors LLC and even a downstairs speakeasy designed by Ricki Kline. But now Jeremy Fall (Genesis, Golden Box) has partnered with Acme, and he’ll have full creative control over King Eddy. Don’t you worry, dive-bar purists, his plan is to restore the saloon to its former diveyness.
“This isn’t a Hollywood person going into something iconic and redoing it and turning it into some hipster kind of thing,” he says adamantly. “It’s not like what Power House tried to do.” He wants to bring the bar back to how it was in the ’80s. It’s still going to be a dive bar but all cleaned up.
Why does Fall, a 20-something nightlife impresario who’s already busy opening new spots around Hollywood, have an interest in this old dive bordering Skid Row? As a native Angeleno, he was a fan of its history, that it was where Charles Bukowski wrote and is one of the city’s oldest bars. And to him, it was at its best during the ’80s. “That entire part of Skid Row was pretty beautiful. There was that whole wave of New Wave, that Miami aesthetic,” he says.
Speaking of aesthetics, he cut the actual bar down to make more room for patrons and added more neon (not liquor brand signs, though). Pac-Man and the jukebox stay, but the Big Buck Hunter game was 86ed.
Here are the changes (and non-changes) you can look forward to at King Eddy:
When Acme first took over the bar, this dedicated smoking room was promptly turned into a smoke-free dartboard room. But now smokers will once again be welcome inside. The new-old smoking room is now ventilated, and the the smoke will be sucked out to the street.
Initially, Fall said that there might be some switch-up with staff, pending testing and training, but he’s now decided to keep all the old bartenders. “Everyone is staying. All the staff is really great.”
There will be more booze. “I’m not going to get too crazy and fancy but there will be a bigger selection,” Fall says. But it’s not going to try to be the next Las Perlas. “I’m not going to go into rare tequilas; it’s not really the place for it.”
“We’re still building some of the weeklies, but I have some stuff that’s cool and confirmed. Wednesdays we’re doing a new wave/dark wave night (think: the Drive soundtrack), with a rotating DJ, and then on Thursdays my resident DJ is Cole Whittle from the band Semi Precious Weapons and he’s curating a classic-rock night. Led Zeppelin, that kind of classic-rock hit night.”
Nope, they’re still not going to bring back 6 a.m. opening hours, but, “In the beginning, we’re going to do 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. and then we’ll expand it. We’ll see where we go from there.”
The “old” but improved King Eddy opens tonight.
King Eddy Saloon, 131 E. 5th St., Downtown, 213-629-2023