Yesterday the news broke that beloved Echo Park bar the Gold Room had changed its menu, ostensibly to accommodate a changing crowd. The bar's owners, the Perez family, have posted a notice to the exterior signboard and left laminated copies of the same notice scattered around the bar. They expected backlash, and they were right.
The bar had been known for years for its homey atmosphere and the free food — tacos and soup — that emerges if you're there at the right time. The drinks were nothing special, but they were strong and arrived quickly, and the bouncers would let you dance a little before scooting you back to your table.
But, as a bigger and younger crowd discovered the bar, the Gold Room became more of a destination, and it had lines on Friday and Saturday nights, and after Dodgers games. The bar changed, not just in vibe but also in decor, a little bit at a time: the half-circle booths replaced by brushed-metal tables and stools, the industrial carpet ripped up.
The Gold Room closed for a bit recently, leaving locals mildly panicked at the idea of some sexy, expensive bar taking over the space. Then it reopened, under the same ownership. But people complained anyway.
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The prices have increased. There is an official cocktail menu, and a wine list, and an array of expensive beers. It's scary and new. But guys: It's owned by the same family that opened the bar in that space 35 years ago. Isn't this the very best outcome for a beloved establishment in a changing neighborhood? What a relief, it hasn't been pushed out. It's just trying something new.
(I also don't think anyone's going to order the specialty cocktails, and it'll go back to being a quick-service bar soon enough. I tried three of the new drinks, and they're not mind-blowing enough to justify the wait.)
That sign the family posted says, "All we ask is to please give us a chance and try us out." They're being reasonable, and I'm sure we all can be, too.
1558 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; (213) 482-5859.