Dive Bar No More: Tommy’s Turns Crimsin

crimsin.jpg Hello again, blogging.la: I like to take a break from my regular beat to check out what’s new in my hometown of Los Angeles – especially within the district of San Pedro, one of our city’s less appreciated corners.

We got all kinds of shiny new stuff going on in our Port Town. New cafes and restaurants. A streudel place. Yeah, I know, random, but hell, I’ll try it. With new lofts must come new nightlife, or who would live there? And though I like the idea of more local attractions that will keep Pedrans spending money in Pedro, conserving gas and supporting local businesses, I’ll admit to being a bit sad that 6th Street’s prime dive bar, Tommy’s, has been replaced by Crimsin, a far swankier establishment with a clever (get it? hey, at least they tried) name.

My yearly birthday tradition involves knocking back a few (too many) “San Pedro Ice Teas” at San Pedro Brewing Co. and then walking in as well-balanced a manner as possible next door and feeding too many quarters to both the juke box and pool tables to round up the night, classy style.

Gone is the juke box and gone are the pool tables, however. In their place and in place of the peeling pleather booths and white walls are edgy beaded curtains, reserved tables, and a glowing bar.

Actually, my mom told me about the glowing bar first (“it’s red! like the name!”), so take what you will from my mom having checked out the bar already – but she’s right. As all new bars must have, there are glowy changing lights all over, fading through the spectrum – and, frankly, pausing for way too long on green, a color in which NO ONE looks more attractive.

I’d also been warned about steep drink prices – but never fear – it’s only steep compared to what was there before. It’s not beyond the pale for most bars in LA.

We were there about a week after the grand opening and I was impressed at the number of people already at the bar when we arrived at a grandparently-early 9pm. Things only got more crowded and with a nice looking crowd, at that. I’d put the average age at around 26 – no annoying drunk girls, no skeezy meat-market old guys, though it was certainly still a bar for the young and interested-in-dating types. The service wasn’t great – especially considering that while it was busy, it wasn’t slammed. You’d think, as a new place, they’d want to pour as many drinks as possible to pay for that cool, lite-brite bar, but apparently not.

Though I’ll miss Tommy’s, I welcome Crimsin as a place filling a much needed neighborhood niche: sometimes you want to take a date to NOT a dive bar after a nice dinner out. Something a bit swankier, but not snotty, is a must for all up-and-coming areas.

7 Replies to “Dive Bar No More: Tommy’s Turns Crimsin”

  1. Crimsin is a joke – I drove by on their big opening night, around 10 PM, and it was empty inside, and there was a lone bouncer working the velvet rope. A velvet rope in Pedro? I didn’t know how hard to laugh.

    Tommy’s was never really that much of a dive, anyways, mostly a jock and “going on thirty and still living in high school” crowd always was there. It was a great place to watch lost and confused testosterone cases butt heads, though.

    Now June’s bar at 7 AM in the morning, packed with ancient drunks – that’s a real dive, and I’m glad it’s still there.

  2. I actually had a stopwatch set to see how long it would take you to comment, Marshall, glad you subconsciously heard the ticking . . . ;)

    While I have an internal struggle over whether velvet ropes “belong” in Pedro, I try to remind myself not to get on a high/low horse of working-class-faux-pride that would force me to look up/down my nose at those who want to add some fun elements to the downtown Pedro scene that we really don’t see there for the most part.

    Were I to embrace the notion that “real” Pedrans don’t go for the slightly higher class attractions, that would mean I should give up hoping for all kinds of better things for our town, and I’m just not willing to do that. So I say, more power to ’em: if there’s a place in downtown Pedro where I can wear a little black dress, all the better. I don’t know if Crimsin will rise to “classy” status – but hell, is anywhere in West LA or Hollywood really “Classy” either? Eh, class is as class does – and I dug the Crimsin vibe when I was there.

    And while I wouldn’t argue that there are scummier, dive-ier bars around, I don’t think the existance of worse makes Tommy’s less divey.

  3. Hey – I wouldn’t be a “real San Pedran” if I didn’t immediately have an opinion on Tommy’s replacement.

    I don’t think velvet ropes belong anywhere, frankly, but they just seemed so out of place on 6th Street. I’ve also found Crimsin’s billboard hilarious – My general dislike of appropriation of “orientalisms”, combined with my beer temperature snobbery (Crimsin’s wife beater is showing when it advertises “Coldest Beer in Town” – FYI – beer has a proper serving temperature, and it sure as hell isn’t “coldest”) have made me pretty unlikely to like Pedro’s newest drinking establishment.

    I have a lot of mixed feelings about the current wave of downtown revitalization – none of it really resembles the Pedro I know, nor the Pedro that I believe Pedro is capable of being. I think the combined experience of working directly with both the City and the Port, serving on the BID board and having owned a business in Downtown has given me a very jaded eye. Not to mention the weird “unwelcome policy” at “Caffe Port Town” – I’m all for seeing Pedro recover, but I’m sick of the elitist aspirations of some members of the business community. Their Pedro isn’t the Pedro that I live in, that’s for sure.

  4. Well, on the up side, it’s nice to see J.D.’s hobby shop come to Sixth. Isn’t it?

    The other night I was sitting at Sacred Grounds drinking an Americano and killing time before my union meeting, when all of a sudden I remembered that I had forgotten to buy a toy for the holiday toy drive. So I left my coffee on the table, walked across the street, bought something nice, and walked back and resumed drinking my coffee, which was still warm. I felt like I was in an actual downtown.

    I admit to being a little curious as to who exactly hangs out at Crimsin. The Random Lengths article was of no help, apart from making the whole scene sound slightly shady and more than a little douchey (what the fuck does “grown and sexy” mean)? So whenever I pass by there, usually around 11 at night, I look to see if there are any patrons waiting to get in, or having a smoke outside, or something. I never see anybody, except maybe a bored bouncer. I guess they didn’t need that velvet rope after all.

  5. I know you dislike the policy at Port Town. While I wish it weren’t necessary and agree that if you have to say it, you’re implicitly copping to class-anxiety, I don’t totally disagree with the goal. But I’m a priss I guess: I just get flippin’ sick of people dressed like trash because they think it looks good and, dare I admit it publically, my tolerance for face piercings is falling fast. And hey, to play a super tired cliche, some of my best friends have facial piercings, but at least they’ve had them since a time when they weren’t as ubiquitous as, say, tramp stamps or other tired “edgy” suburban girl cliches.

    The only thing on Port Town’s list that I have a problem with is the no-flip-flops-in-winter rule because, hell, it’s California and I don’t know what else to wear. But my mom has always expected as much from me as Port Town does, so I can’t do less than applaud their standards, right?

    Shape up or ship out. Standards are hip again, didn’t you know?

    “Elite” as you use it sounds like a slur. Cleaning up our act is a worthy goal. It’s not elitism, it’s “let’s start acting our age and like we give a shit.” I’m all for that.

  6. Why is the policy at Port Town necessary?

    One of the things that really bothers me about the Port Town policy is this: How many people featured in the movie wouldn’t be welcome in Port Town Caffe? I narrated a portion of that movie, and I didn’t expect it to be used to then market a business that basically has a big “fuck you” sign pointed at me. It’s insulting and embarrassing.

    I’m not concerned with people cleaning up their own act – it’s about time some of that happened around town. What I’m concerned about is people attempting to clean up other people’s acts for them. Pedro has a history of showing portions of the community the door when it serves the interest of those in charge: KKK in the 20’s, support for the Japanese internment in the 40’s and now I have to read racist letters to the editor about how “Mexicans are the root of all evil.” Those who don’t learn from history…

  7. I really enjoyed Crimsin. The music was good, the crowd was great and I loved the atmosphere. The service also very good. It is also nice to see a dress code enforced. A great place to take a date or just grab a drink with friends. I will definitely be back.

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