Local comics mourned the late-2012 loss of the Improv's experimental black box the Lab … until the spacious, welcoming lounge that took its place opened last summer. While the old bar area features a new kitchen and ever-evolving menu courtesy of chef Kyle Schutte, the sleek new side entryway provides a relaxed, see-and-be-seen experience before and after shows. Strings of soft white lights and a half-dozen subtle chandeliers offer serious ambiance befitting a serious art form. Rather than cheesy headshots, action portraits of Eddie Pepitone, Ralphie May and Dana Gould accent the black, white, crystal and chrome décor. The 40-year-old institution's commitment to forward thinking and constant reinvention will only grow, as director of special events Reeta Piazza envisions the next design phase adding traditional brick accents, an outdoor patio and vintage Improv lineups adorning the bar. —Julie Seabaugh
8162 Melrose Ave., Beverly Grove, 90046. (323) 651-2583, hollywood.improv.com.