The Mermaid & Sportsmen's Lodge Remembered
Two more vintage nightlife venues that helped define Southern California's quirkiness have closed or face possible extinction. L.A. Daily asked some longtime locals for their thoughts about Hermosa Beach's Mermaid bar and restaurant (whose lot is for sale), and Studio City's shuttered Sportsmen's Lodge.
David Ellis, Harbor City: Hermosa used to be like Times Square in the '60s & ' 70s. A little bit seedy, sleepy and low key.The Mermaid was a big part of that past.I felt safe knowing the Hell's Angels were on Pier Avenue having drinks at the Mermaid -- the cops always kept their distance, waitng for their departure. As a youngster living in Hermosa I remember my mother telling me never go to Pier Avenue. Through a child's eyes it was fun seeing bikers for the first time -- everyone in town was excited when the Angels arrived. I don't remember much fighting like we see now. Beach tar on my feet, having a taco at Taco Bell on the Strand -- 1968. You bet.
Mermaid Photo: Daily Breeze
Sharon Bell, Studio City: Just vaguely remember trout fishing as a kid -- you had to throw them back. Even as a kid I knew it wasn't real fishing, but it was a nice setting with the swans and all. Years later I'd take my dogs to walk along the "river" between Fulton and Coldwater. Often there were Mallard ducks in the water, and I assumed they were refugees from Sportsmen's. Not even the ducks wanted to stay there.
I also have an awful memory of attending someone's bar mitzvah there as a 12-year-old, and dancing with one of his drunken relatives -- an adult, mind you -- who commented on what big feet I had. I do have big feet for someone my size, it's true, but that was the first time anyone was rude enough to point it out to me. I spent the rest of the afternoon hiding in the ladies' room.
When there was the Caribou restaurant my husband Cary and I ate there a few times in an effort to enjoy Sportsmen's as a local hangout, but we weren't into game, and the vibe was not even kitschy good fun. It was no Bigfoot Lodge. Not that everything needs to be hip-ified; I like the Oyster House partly because it is untouched by scenesters.
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