Good Luck Bar Is Closing After 25 Years. Can Los Feliz Save It?
"This is about transparency, basic decency, and the belief that developers should be accountable to, and not just extract value from, the communities they build in."
That's part of the wording in a recent petition launched to save Good Luck Bar, a staple Los Feliz watering hole that is expected to shutter on May 4, 2019 after 25 years in business.
Posted at 11 p.m. on Saturday night, the petition had garnered more than 1,000 signatures in 36 hours. Now, the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council is getting involved.
They're holding a special meeting on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Elysian Masonic Lodge where they will be voting on a resolution "expressing concern over the eviction of Good Luck Bar and calling on the city to invalidate any permits or approvals previously given to the proposed project on the site."
Since news broke a couple of weeks ago that the bar was closing...
...fans have expressed their dismay on social media.
So many great memories at this bar, I can't believe its going away. All the places I remember growing up in this city are disappearing.— MASTER (@albert_gonz72) April 10, 2019
No!!! So many things that make LA unique are being bulldozed. pic.twitter.com/bXsTZXJvhV— Julianne Reiser (@RogueGinger28) April 10, 2019
LA will eventually be nothing but residential rows of cement bunker moderns,gleaming,sterile retail space and trendy yet tasteless restaurants.— EchoMoonBeam (@EchoMoonBeam) April 11, 2019
In March 2014, after Conroy announced plans to build a 17-room boutique hotel on the site, the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council brought up several concerns, the Los Feliz Ledger reports, but, "The neighborhood council ultimately voted to support the project."
In all of those proposals, Conroy assured both the bar's owners and the neighborhood council that Good Luck Bar would be part of the development.
But things got weird around 2016, when Good Luck renegotiated their lease with Conroy, according to David Granger, the bar's general manager.
"They never signed [the lease] or sent it back to us," he says. "We reached out to them periodically and almost every time, we were met with radio silence or they would email us back and say, 'We'll get back to you.'"
In late 2018, Granger says Action Vacuums and another tenant of the building received eviction notices. Around that time, Conroy asked Good Luck to turn over its liquor license. The bar's management refused. On April 8, they received a 30-day eviction notice.
"I don't want to have any negative feelings toward whatever project is going to be there, whether we're there or not," Granger says. "But if you are using the equity of a business to build your own equity, then you should really reconsider reneging on that because that's bad faith. Or at least communicate to those businesses, 'We're taking the project in a different direction.'"
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Located at the intersection where Sunset and Hollywood boulevards crisscross Virgil and Hillhurst avenues, Good Luck Bar has been a popular neighborhood bar for a quarter century.
While residents decry the development that's pushing out Good Luck, it's easy to forget that when the joint opened, it was part of a new wave of hip bars and restaurants changing the face of Silver Lake and Los Feliz.
(Side note: The Good Luck Bar is NOT a dive bar. If you think it is, you haven't been to a real dive bar.)
As Pat Saperstein says in the Los Feliz Ledger:
"Dive bars were just starting to give way to a new wave of hipper options, and the neighborhood's young residents made it a favorite hangout that hosted thousands of first dates, birthday parties and memorable evenings."
And so the gentrifiers become the gentrified and the circle of life continues.
As Twitter @KyleVail pointed out, "Nothing lasts forever. I struggle to understand why people dramatize the close of a private business."
The owner is clearly successful, owning multiple hotels, bars, and restaurants, but it's a bit rich to decry foul play in the form of development given his own business dealings. Invoking a Joni Mitchel song about environmental concerns over undeveloped land makes no sense🤷♂️— Kyle Vail (@KyleVail) April 10, 2019
Good Luck owner Sean MacPherson has plenty of pots on the fire. He currently owns, has owned or has been involved with Jones, Swingers, El Carmen and Bar Lubitsch in Los Angeles as well as the Waverly Inn, the Maritime Hotel and the Bowery Hotel, among other ventures in New York.
"New York is a different city every 10 years, and many resist that change, but it doesn't matter — it reinvents every decade," MacPherson told Haute Living in 2015.
The same is true of Los Angeles, maybe of every big city.
On this coast, MacPherson owns kitschy, Asian-themed Good Luck Bar, a venue that many locals want to stay open and unchanged. On the East Coast, he's overseeing the revamp of the legendary Chelsea Hotel, once a gloriously louche refuge for broke artists that's being transformed into a luxury simulacram of bohemian life.
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We're not crying in our beers for MacPherson, but we sympathize with the sadness many Angelenos feel over the Good Luck's bad ending.
The past few years have seen the closure of a bunch of beloved L.A. neighborhood bars including the Smog Cutter in Virgil Village, Power House in Hollywood, Dimples in Burbank and Del's in West L.A.
"Honestly, I'm not sure what can be done at this stage," writes Ev Boyle, who started the Change.org petition to save Good Luck Bar. "At the very least, I'm hoping we can gather enough signatures that Conway will have to answer to the community and to all the Angelenos who love Good Luck."
But developers in Los Angeles — and everywhere else — have a history of committing to "improvement" projects that residents don't want.
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"Los Feliz has really blown up lately, and people just see it as an area to make money. Los Feliz has a very small town feel, and I don't think outside developers are connected to the community the way that the people who live there are. They're invested from a dollar sign standpoint and not from a 'This is where I want to raise my kids' or 'This is where I have my house,'" Granger said.
Will Conroy pay attention to the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council or to this petition? Will that alter their plans to close Good Luck Bar? Probably not.
Granger says he told Boyle, "I don't think [the petition] is going to help, but thank you for the support. When you don't have a lease, there's really nothing you can do."
But as the petition states: "This fight is bigger than Good Luck - it's about resisting a culture among luxury developers of pushing through exploitative projects that cater only to the wealthy without so much as asking the community for input."
We reached out to Conroy Real Estate for comment but haven't heard back. We will update this story if we do.