Downtown's King Eddy Saloon, a favorite of the new urban enthusiasts for its patina of LA history and image as "Skid Row's last great dive bar," is about to go the full hipster route. Its new owners are also partners in Library Bar, Spring Street bar and Pizzeria Urbano and Coffee Bar. Change is inevitable, as Associated Press writer in Los Angeles John Rogers tells the world in a piece on the wire this weekend.
Some pretty famous names have passed through the doors of the King Eddy over the years. The great LA noir writer John Fante used it as the model for the blue-collar dive bar frequented by failed writer Arturo Bandini in his classic 1939 novel "Ask The Dust." For years, LA's poet laureate, Charles Bukowski, held court at a corner table....
For a century the King Eddy has survived everything the neighborhood could throw at it, from Prohibition to beer-bottle brandishing drunks to, more recently, a drug addiction epidemic that gripped the neighborhood in the 1980s and '90s.
Gentrification, however, may finally be what does it in.
After nearly 50 years of family ownership, the bar is being sold to a partnership that runs a pair of upscale watering holes just outside the Skid Row perimeter. Those places specialize in craft beers and cocktails, catering to a new, more moneyed crowd that is moving into the hundreds of high-end apartments and loft-style condos that have sprung up around Skid Row over the past 10 years.
Sometime in the coming weeks, says Michael Leko, one of the new owners, the bar will close for extensive renovations.
When it reopens, it will still be called the King Eddy, Leko said, adding he hopes to retain as much of its history as possible. But he acknowledges it will have a different, more modern look, along with prices that he says will "complement the neighborhood."
Manager Bill Roller has been at the King Eddy, located on the ground floor of the King George Hotel at 5th and Los Angeles streets, for 34 years, as he says in this KCET. video from last year. "All my food is microwaveable," he says proudly.
Menu from the King Eddy website