Apparently there is such a thing as chilling too hard.
At odds with sedate pothead iconography - "This aggression will not stand, man." - the TreeHouse Social Lounge, L.A.'s first members-only BYO-pot bar-of-sorts, closed its doors on Sunday after noise complaints filed by surrounding neighbors, according to employees and patrons.
One of the TreeHouse's resident budtenders, "Cheese," says that the landlord unexpectedly announced on June 1 that the pot bar would need to relocate by June 7 after reportedly receiving several complaints to the cops about loud late-night noise and excessive numbers of cars parked on nearby streets.
Operating seven days a week, the alcohol- and tobacco-free lounge located on 5025 W. Pico Blvd. (conveniently located across the street from every stoner's wet dream, Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles) stayed open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and until midnight Sunday through Wednesday.
"We were loud; the music was loud," Cheese acknowledges. "It was too public of an area. We need a warehouse or something like that."
Aside from providing a cozy haven for patients to smoke as a community, the TreeHouse kept the spot lively with an eclectic mix of daily entertainment: live jazz and reggae, poetry readings, and even pole dancing on Friday nights. The lounge had to cancel the entire slate for June.
TreeHouse's General Manager, Aggie Karmelita, is less forthcoming about the sudden closure, describing it "as a situation beyond our control with the person who owns the buildings." She insisted that there was no bad blood between the TreeHouse and its former landlord and that the TreeHouse maintained a low-key presence in the West Pico neighborhood where it was located.
She does, however, hint at some conflict. "It's just a
new kind of business, you know, so people are wary," she says. "It's a business that exists in a grey area and people are not sure about it."
But where's there's weed, there's a way - especially in greenthusiastic California. Karmelita says that the closing is an opportunity for the lounge to find a better, bigger, more suitable location, and has been eyeing downtown or another more central area to lay down new roots.
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The TreeHouse itself is a reincarnation that grew out of a former stay-and-bake operation at La Brea Collective, which shuttered last June after the city passed an ordinance that outlawed smoking at dispensaries. (See also: "When Your Favorite Marijuana Bar Has to Close," which is about that closure.)
To comply with the new law, the collective and its lounge became two separate entities, with the latter moving just a block away. Those looking to hang out and get high could bring weed purchased at the collective (or elsewhere) and join the "club" at the TreeHouse down the street.
"[The last night] was more of a 'see you later until next time' kind of a gathering," longtime TreeHouse regular Rick Brenes says. "It did have this very somber mood to it because we all knew it was the last day. But, you know, it seems like they've closed the hash bar three times already, so to us everyday goers it's just like, 'Ok, I'll see you three months from now when the new spot opens up.' We've been through this before."
Come the end of the summer, Karmelita hopes that the TreeHouse will be established in a new home with amenities crucial for the unique operation: good ventilation, ample sprawl space and a sympathetic (aka chill) landlord.