Silver Lake: Another One Bites The Dust

Let’s have a current Silver Lake business deadcount (in order of demise), shall we?

  1. Flor Morena, looong gone and vacant
  2. Mornings/Nights Cafe, looong gone and vacant*
  3. Johnny’s Bar, looong gone and vacant*
  4. Netty’s, looong gone and vacant*
  5. Eastside Mercantile, gone and vacant*
  6. Backdoor Bakery & Cafe, gone and vacant
  7. Eat Well, gone and vacant
  8. Bungalow Furnishings, gone and vacant
  9. Sunset Orange, gone and vacant
  10. Cardone’s Deli, gone**

* In some (mostly stagnant) stage of remodeling
** Added per this comment found on Curbed LA; Closed as of 4/12 per comment on Yelp


As The Specials sang: “This town (toooooown), is coming like a ghostown.”

And it’s not over yet. For the next in the exodus — discovered biking home tonight on Sunset Boulevard — I present the retail space that previously housed my favorite named shop in the area: The Den of Antiquity. Now it’s just a shell of its former self draped with a funereal “For Rent” sign.

Coincidentally as I was taking the picture at right, a fellow who later told me he was named Evan from Angelino Heights, came out of Casbah next door and I asked him somewhat incredulously if he might know when the time of death occured. He said it had probably been a week or two, and I shook my head in dejection. Seeing my camera he asked if I was interested in the property.

“Only if they’re giving it away!”

“Not quite,” he pointed out.

“My Silver Lake is disappearing!” I lamented, and somewhat knowingly he assured “It’ll only get better,” and I asked what he meant by that. Turns out Evan’s very interested in renting the property and hoping to close a deal soon. “For what?” I asked, bracing for him to tell me the name of some boutique or salon.

He paused. “A wine bar,” he said and I shrugged in a way that was half well-at-least-it’s-not-a-Starbucks relief and the other half by-the-way-I-drink-wine-out-of-a-box disinterested.

We chatted a few more minutes and looked into the vacant 1,600-square-foot floorspace and admired some of the facade’s architectural details. Before we said our goodbyes, I pointed out the shuttered Eat Well a couple doors west and mentioned the fresh absence of Sunset Orange across Hyperion Avenue past the surplus store to the east, and took a few pictures of the deceased Den, wondering what’s to become of those places, and what might be next to go.

22 thoughts on “Silver Lake: Another One Bites The Dust”

  1. Did you catch how much they were looking to get for the place? I’m casually looking for some commercial space in the area.

  2. Will,

    I feel that Bookbound (which usta be across the street from the military surplus store) should be mentioned, as should the L.A. Cacophony Society.

    Although the former—a book shoppe that I frequented as well as at which I had a few readings—did not close down when Shira moved out, the rising rents appeared to have prompted the move as well as the eventual closing.

    With the latter, it was not a formal business, but it was an institution (despite its targeting the term “institution.”)

  3. “My Silver Lake is disappearing!” I lamented, and somewhat knowingly he assured “It’ll only get better,” and I asked what he meant by that. Turns out Evan’s very interested in renting the property and hoping to close a deal soon. “For what?” I asked, bracing for him to tell me the name of some boutique or salon.

    He paused. “A wine bar,” he said and I shrugged in a way that was half well-at-least-it’s-not-a-Starbucks relief and the other half by-the-way-I-drink-wine-out-of-a-box disinterested.

    Ahhh, the gentrifier’s lament! Classic!

    I prayed for a little boutique or salon, but alas it was to become a wine bar! UGH.


    I recommend everyone check out this article, Report: Nation’s Gentrified Neighborhoods Threatened By Aristocratization

  4. WAIT WAIT WAIT. What happened to Eat Well?
    Is it really gone?!?!?! It was packed every time we went.
    So this makes sense because two Sundays ago we drove that way and somehow “missed” it…IS IT REALLY GONE? How can that be??

  5. @ bustard: In addition to those you mention, I’m sure there are many other extinct businesses and institutions that can be added to the list. I was just struck by how many actual spaces presently are unoccupied.

    @ fredcamino: Are you LOLing at me or with me? I suspect it’s the former, especially since it seems as if you’re putting words into my lament. For damn sure I didn’t imply anywhere in the post that I was praying for a boutique or salon — or a wine bar (though a bike shop would be nice). I was simply mourning what was lost.

    As to me being one o’ them cursed “gentrifiers” you win that argment simply because I’m readily stereotyped into such a category by the color of my skin, and the fact that I’m not a 12th-generation resident whose lineage can be traced back to the original Pobladores. My only rebuttal is that I’m just about as anti-gentrification as it gets.

    @ hildy: I’m not aware the circumstance behind Eat Well’s demise, but it’s been gone for several weeks now.

  6. Don’t leave out another member of the Sunset Junction Ghost Town, The Sunset Silver Lake Condos
    overlooking the Effie St. bridge. They’ve been waiting for suckers, er, buyers for months. Starting at
    the $700,000’s per, it looks like they’ve sold maybe about 1/4 the units available.
    And yes, EAT WELL was packed alright, packed with VERMIN! (as per the County Health Dept. notice), a too hip for their own good staff and an owner who drove it into the ground.
    With all the high rents, I guess I can’t blame these local stores for peddling their over-priced, pretentious crap to those with more money than sense, but now it’s time for reality to set in.
    Another big issue is parking. Almost none of these businesses on Sunset have dedicated parking yet they
    want to pull in the big crowds assuming (or not caring) that the majority local no-driveway/garage challenged residents will be happy to give up their streets to the hipster crowds.
    Few, actual residents from the neighborhood are going to miss any of these latest departures because these
    places catered mostly to the outside hipsters and shoppers looking to slum it on our “funky” streets. The real neighborhood shops, Bookbound, The Carniceria, the Fetish Shop and the other pre-gentrification places have been long gone.
    Here’s a word to the wise for future commercial tenants looking to move into this strip.
    IDEA OF PUTTING THE REQUEST IN TO THE CITY, THINKING IT WOULD HELP THEIR FAILING BUSINESSES. And finally, a warning to new potential businesses coming here, If you have the notion to put
    in an establishment serving alcohol, think again. The city requires local resident approval for that, and we residents are ready to fight it big time. There’s too many alcohol permits around here already and you’re in for a long, hard battle that you won’t win. Just a few things to keep in mind.

  7. I miss the pre Eat Well … Sea Food Bay and the Magick and Fetish shop. The new century hasn’t been too kind for this part of town.

  8. Wow, another wine bar, huh? That would make quite a few in the area with Cafe Stella expanding its wine bar, at least two I’ve heard about planned on Sunset in Echo Park, and Barbrix on Hyperion, which is also in a moribund state of remodeling.
    And yes, Michelangelo is closing May 31, but I don’t think it will be vacant for long.
    I miss Seafood Bay too!

  9. I have lived in Silver Lake (Sunset and Hyperion neighborhood ) for some 11 years- in that time, only 5 business are still here that were here when we moved in (El Pollo Loco, La Bar/ Black Cat, the launder mat, Tacos Delta and the Army surplus store and maybe the cleaners by tacos delta, not sure)
    Businesses come and go. Owners move the business closer to their homes (as in the case of Book Bound- which did not go out of business until the original owner sold it) or building owners decided to cash in on raising rents (M.C. Computers were kicked out for that very reason) or the building owners have grand plans of building something “better” (the Mexican Market that was were the Intelginta is now). But the biggest reason for a business going under is the poor planning of the business owners and their Vanity Business.
    A prospective business owner thinks Silver Lake is the “up and coming” neighborhood. “Oh, its so Bohemian, its so gay, its so artiest, its so rich, its so what every” Prospective business owner does not look around the neighborhood to see that there is no parking, that the people who live here (I am talking the area around Sunset Junction, I know it is much different around the lake) are working class families, many who live 2 to 3 families per small apartment, or young single people in small apartment with out the money or space for nice but over priced trinkets.
    This has very little to do with gentrification (so overused a word it means nothing) but bad planning. These neighborhoods are no more white and upper class then they were 10 years ago.
    As far as a Gap or Jumbo Juice or other chair store- unlike the vanity stores/cafes, the Big Box businesses do neighborhood analyses and market studies. And that is the reason they have not moved here yet, there is no market for the here.
    BTW- if anyone is asking, the neighbors (black, white, Latino, English, Spanish and indigoes languages of Central American speaking, poor and lower middle class) and I would love a bangle shop to open here.

  10. ^^^^^
    Yes, finally someone gets it right! People are always carping about gentrification and “hipsters” (whatever the hell that means), but the real problem is that the people who actually live around the Junction aren’t the target demographic of the shops! My neighbors are primarily Mexican and Salvadorian families living 3-5 people in studio apartments. Even the single people obviously aren’t loaded or they’d probably live in a bigger place. I have never purchased a single thing at any of the clothing or furniture shops, nor have I dined at Cafe Stella, except once w/a date. El Pollo Loco (and on occasion the coffee shops) are really the only local businesses that I patronize because they’re the only ones that fit my lifestyle. Oh, and of course the dollar store. And that one hippy place by Rough Trade is good for gifts.

  11. will –

    i’m wondering did you ever actually BUY anything at Den of Antiquity? because it reads like you’re one of those locals who want the local color but don’t actually support the local color.

  12. fredcamino wrote:

    I prayed for a little boutique or salon, but alas it was to become a wine bar! UGH.


    The word “bracing” does not mean what you seem to think it means, Fred. can be a valuable resource when it comes to things like this. Next time, use it *before* you post.

  13. I guess you got me libertad: I’m just a poser. I’ve never purchased anything specifically at Den, And while I’m fully disclosing, I’ve never bought anything at Sunset Orange either. Never ordered a meal at at Pramadan or whipped out my Visa at Serifos or Pull My Daisy or Barkeeper or MC Computer. It’s been three years since my last breakfast at Eat Well.

    The level of my support of “the local color” is what it is and I resent your presumptive implication that it’s somehow lacking. If you feel there’s some threshold level that needs achieving in order to be allowed to bemoan the current glut of empty storefronts and the changing retail landscape of Silver Lake, well that’s just an odd argument. Did Den go out of business because I only wandered through it a few times and didn’t buy anything? No. Is Bungalow still around even though my wife and I furnished our living room and office with their stuff? No.

    Apparently I don’t have the required proofs of purchase to suit you so I’m to just STFU and welcome the next Pinkberry through gritted teeth? Please.

  14. I am not going to miss most of the current business that are going under (In fact we are happy one of them- who was a bastard to many of us neighbors- is going) but I don’t like the idea of vacate store fronts and the trash, sofa dumping, crime and general bad influences that are attracted to empty buildings. The Eat Well building is the worst. According to what I have been told, the owners are still paying rent and looking for someone to buy them out, at a high price (don’t know how much he could get for the place being that is has no parking and can’t sell booze) On the brighter side (as far as vacant buildings go) The old Bungalow store is being turned into a recording studio (got that from the contractor who was working on it this AM ) and the Sunset Orange owner told everyone his landlord kicked him out so he could move a higher rent payer in so these two spots should be filled fast.

  15. Here’s an update to the one above:

    The old Bungalow space is being split up inside– part of it will be private (for a recording studio) but the bulk of it will be gift shop called Mercado run by two chicks. My friend knows the man who owns the space and record company so this info is a lot more accurate that what’s floating around out there.

  16. gosh, will, you seem uncharacteristically combative. Libertad’s question (rhetorical though it may have been) was a valid followup to the previous two comments which really hit the nail on the head regarding what’s going on in the neighborhood. It amazes me how rarely those voices are recognized.
    Things change. That’s the nature of it. And this happens at an elevated pace in neighborhoods in which there is above average disparity between the perceived demographic and the true majority demographic.

    However, a lot of these changes aren’t vicious spirals downward in the available culture the perceived demographic wants to feel surrounded by. I think your ‘lament’ might be a bit premature, maybe melodramatic. If a Pinkberry does move in then we can all wave the flags of despair, but why assume that every time a storefront puts up a vacant sign it’s going to be filled by a mega-chain? Especially if the vacancy sign is going up on a ‘storefront’, a business that you enjoyed the look of as you road past but not a business that provided you a frequent and necessary service.

    Yes, Eat Well is gone, but Flore opened a few doors down.

    I felt your reaction to Evan was weird. “Well, at least it’s not a Starbucks”? I’d think you’d be thrilled that an independent proprietor is looking to use that space to open a gathering place that caters to the perceived demographic of the neighborhood. I mean, you met the guy because he happened to be patronizing the restaurant next door, not to mention the sort of guy who goes out of his way to strike up a conversation with a stranger who appears to share an interest in the neighborhood’s evolution. I’d think this would score pretty high on your graph of ideal new local business-owners.

    Sometimes I get the feeling that when a local store closes the only business some locals will consider an acceptable replacement for it is a nostalgia shop that specializes in the kitsch of the previous tenant’s business. Change is not necessarily loss. But that is especially true from the perspective of the real majority demographic of the neighborhood who haven’t had a connection to but a tiny fraction of the storefronts in this neighborhood in decades. You think they care whether that storefront is filled by an antique shop, a wine bar, or a CA-style diner? Nah, they’ll never step foot inside regardless. Some might be happy to see another Lucy’s Laundromat open up a few blocks closer to their home, otherwise it’s just another storefront that sells trinkets or expensive foreign meals.

    I’m sorry that there’s no rumors floating around of a bike shop moving into any of these newly vacant spaces. No one is more passionate about biking than you, maybe this is your calling. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a boutique bicycle salon near Sunset Junction. I’d consider it a welcome new Silver Lake color and interesting storefront for me to walk by every day. If such a business could succeed anywhere in LA I’d think it would be in Silver Lake.

  17. Thanks for the excellent comment imjeffro. You make some great points and I appreciate you considering my combative nature as “uncharacteristic” because it makes me think maybe I’m not as big kneejerk as I’m usually perceived to be.

    You’re obviously free to defend libertad’s comment as valid and pertinent. Perhaps if he or she had been a bit more diplomatic and pointed the comment at a broader base rather than at me personally I wouldn’t have taken it as an assumptive slight founded on a ridiculous premise that screamed for a rebuttal you found so over the top. But then I’m weird like that when I get picked on.

    And speaking of weird, you may qualify my reaction to Evan’s statement as such but it seems as if you’re extrapolating it out to be some sort of judgment of him. I may not have made it clear that I thought he was a fine fellow and I did appreciate his willingness to talk as well as his enthusiasm for the space. If my not leaping for joy at his designs for it is odd to you, then odd I be.

    Your second to last paragraph is spot-on and I appreciate your endorsement of my bike shop dream. Alas, unless I win the lottery tomorrow the place is Evan’s to do with as he so chooses and one I hope appeals to the community.

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