A black hearse pulls up out front of a club at 432 N. Fairfax, two blocks north of Beverly. On this stretch, most of the bars and restaurants have neon signs, but this club looks different. It's a dark, stone storefront with no sign and blacked-out windows.
The door of the hearse opens and three dudes in identical suits and flat-top haircuts get out. A bouncer with a clipboard nods and opens the club's big double doors to let them in. It's all very cloak and dagger.
The people behind this club and restaurant don't want you to know about it. The club owners, Bryan Ling and Jordan Buky, have made it clear they don't want any press. But lots of fancy and famous people are nonetheless partying there.
Inside, the spot has a low-lit rock lounge vibe, in the vein of the Sayers Club, with comfortable seating oriented towards a small raised stage. (Live music is said to be on the way.) There's a long wooden communal table you can carve your name into, fried chicken and other food on offer, art on the walls, and a staircase lined with leather belts that leads to the VIP balcony.
Though the owners have resisted being interviewed, we know this much: The place "soft" opened last November, and each night around 8 p.m. the glamorous patrons - models, actors, disheveled musicians and rich guys in suits - begin pulling up in their Teslas and Bentleys. Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis are regulars. It clears out around 2 am.
Most everyone else can encounter resistance. Bouncers say the place has no name, and that there's no way to make a reservation there without knowing the owner. There is no website or phone number. Even the valets have to run across the street to Animal, just to use the bathroom.
On some nights, the doors are simply locked, while inside people are clearly having a good time.
Should you be lucky enough to get an invitation, you'll get a black card with nothing but a phone number on it. (A commenter on Eater LA posted the number, which we called; an English-accented female voice says, in a slightly-annoyed tone, "Please leave your name and number and let us know how you got this number, and we will make reservations accordingly.")
Co-owner Jordan Buky is a veteran party promoter. He's behind a similarly mysterious spot called Agency, a hyper-exclusive EDM venue above the Vanguard on Hollywood, where top DJs play to small invite-only crowds on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Buky's company, a self-described "Lifestyle Marketing Agency" called All Points Worldwide, has no website. He's also affiliated with a B&B in Miracle Mile, and Big Cat Encounters, a Nevada-based ranch where patrons can "interact" with real tigers.
The new mystery spot seems to be, basically, the rock club version of Agency.
Ling is a music manager whose company represents Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. (In fact, the metal security door that rolls up during the day is painted with the album covers of the last two Edward Sharpe albums). Apparently he also pals around with James Franco. Ling, like Buky, wouldn't speak to us on the record, though he told Eater they "are trying to fly under the radar in order to establish a vibe."
For all its hype, the club is a somewhat of a misfit in the community. Fairfax is known for sneaker geeks and fly girls frequenting the many streetwear stores and street art galleries. The street's denizens are not too fond of interlopers. At night, locals pack low-key bars like The Dime, Rosewood Tavern, the Kibbutz Room, and the newly opened gastropub Plan Check.
Which is probably why prospective entrants get pissed when they're rejected from this new club. Some people yell at the bouncer. Some walk off in tears.
"You wouldn't believe the nasty things people say to me," a bouncer tell us, "but it's not our problem if they're not on the list."
When asked about the potential effect on the Fairfax community, the manager, a small, sharp-faced, impeccably well-dressed 30-something says: "The only community we care about is the one inside these doors."
Of course, in the age of social media, no one can keep the secret secret for too long. The business model is nonetheless intriguing - although it's worth asking how a place that seems to resentful of potential customers plans to stay in business.
But perhaps it doesn't. Most ultra-exclusive spots in L.A. tend to go out of business, often pretty quickly.
On the ground outside the ominous doors, beneath the brass eye-slats, a word is written in black-and-white mosaic tile: "Community."
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But the concept of community seems anathema to what this place is all about; it seems to more interested in allowing elites to gather and relax without fear of interacting with the masses.
There's nothing wrong with that, but it would make more sense in a secret alleyway far off the grid, or behind a wall of ivy like Chateau Marmont.
But perhaps that's the point. Without the Fairfax hoi polloi banging on the doors outside, the inside would be a far less sexy affair.