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Popular Downtown Wine Bar Closed Overnight, Surprising Community -- and Bar Owners

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Inside The Must on 5th Street | Photo by Sean_Yoda_Rouse via LAist Featured Photos

Inside The Must on 5th Street | Photo by Sean_Yoda_Rouse via LAist Featured Photos
Controversy spilled throughout the downtown community over the weekend after The Must, a popular wine bar in the Historic Core, was suddenly closed following an apparent surprise business deal over the space's lease. The end result left The Must stripped of furniture and its wine stock.

When news first hit The Must ownership on Saturday morning, it was first reported as a burglary. But as details developed on Sunday, the story took a turn into what will likely end in a court drama over contracts and leases.

A new unidentified owner now reportedly owns the space, which includes hot dog shop and art gallery Weenez next door, according to blogdowntown, which is following the story very closely. Weenez owner Julie Rico told the website that there was no burglary, that what was done was legal. "There is a new owner of the spaces," she said. "He is taking the space over to put in a beer and wine bar with food. He is an amazing person and will work much better in the space."

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Weenez used to be the lease holder over its own space and the neighboring wine bar. Rico says The Must never had a sub-lease, but only a contract. New leaseholder J.P. Lounge intends to keep Weenez, but ousted the wine bar with plans to replace it with a new one.

Owners entered The Must around 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning to remove furniture, kitchen equipment and wine. “Of course we were in our legal rights to do what we did,” explained Rico. “There is no warrant for my arrest, as this is a civil matter that will be settled in arbitration.”

What happened leading up to this weekend's incident is still unknown, but many community members have been left irked. "Now, assuming the dispute is ultimately resolved in favor of the owner of the 'JP Lounge,'" said Sean Rouse in blogdowntown's comment section, "what plans does this person have to overcome the enormous amount of bad will that's been generated by the way this has been handled?"