It's True: There's No God And Downtown's Bar 107 Is Closing
The owner of Bar 107 confirms that it will be the latest in the long line of dives that will soon close, possibly making way for a more upscale establishment that their regulars don't need or want. We don't know about you, but we love a good dive where we can order a whiskey-ginger or a cheap beer, listen to good music and wear whatever shoes we want. In the last year, we've lost Powerhouse and White Horse, Dimples is going to be a Whole Foods and now Bar 107 in downtown Los Angeles will be pouring their last drinks.
Vee Delgadillo opened Bar 107 on July 6, 2005, taking over the Score, downtown's oldest gay bar. (At the time, Curbed Los Angeles wrote, "Downtown's oldest gay bar, Score, has been converted to a straight hipster hangout. We're talking trucker hats and ironically-quaffed PBR. Blech.") Bar 107 likely won't get the chance to celebrate a decade downtown, however, because their landlord, who manages the Barclay Hotel building in which 107 is located, is kicking them out.
Delgadillo, who isn't happy about the situation, told LAist that Victor Vasquez—the son of the building's owner and who is calling the shots—had repeatedly promised her that he'd renew her month-to-month lease, and then "suddenly slapped me with a 90-day notice." She said he told her that he has a plan to open his own bar in the same spot, and is now trying to buy her liquor license. Delgadillo was profiled as the dive bar queen in a recent article in The Downtown News, which stated that Bar 107 was taking in about $2 million annually. Delgadilo wonders if Vasquez has been approached by someone who was interested in making him a partner in a more upscale establishment.
Delgadillo has other bars—the Down and Out, and the newly opened, New Orleans-themed Little Easy—but for her to transfer her license, get a conditional use permit and get a new 107-style bar up and running in a new location would likely take her over a year.
The rest of the Barclay building's ground floor has plenty of empty space, too, Delgadillo notes, so she's not sure why 107 has to close to make way for a new spot. She also said that she redid the bathrooms to comply with ADA requirements in 2013—a $100K renovation and a year-long process—"in good faith" that her lease would continue to be renewed. She also told us that she spent money last summer tearing down an illegal second story that was built before they even moved into the space.
"He lied to us about renewing our lease and let us spend tens of thousand of dollars on his building under false pretense," she said.
We reached out to Vasquez, who simply said he had no comment on the bar's closing at this time.
Before we talked to Delgadillo, we stopped by for a little investigative drinking to see if we could overhear any rumors. Murmurs of the bar's impending shuttering had indeed been circulating, and the early evening crowd wasn't particularly happy. One man sadly told us that Bar 107 was his Cheers. Others lamented the free pizza happy hour. Kayleigh Smith, a photographer and a 107 regular, told us it's her favorite place to dance to '80s and '90s music until she's a "sweaty mess."
"They played 'Goodbye Horses' on my birthday, and it was the greatest. Plus, they have a photobooth...and PBR tallboys," she said.
And that's the thing about dive bars: they're neighborhood institutions that are always someone's home away from home, where they blow off steam over a cold one and make memories. We don't mind a fancy cocktail, either, but does every bar in Los Angeles need to be a prohibition-era mixology lounge? Delgadillo shares our sentiments.
"It sucks that the 'average' have nowhere to go downtown. I guess you're only welcome in DTLA if you have money for $20 cocktails and are dressed to the nines," she said.
We're not sure the exact closing date, but we'll keep you posted.