Britt Witt on
“Highland Park’s new independent music venue where you can drink like a goldfish” reads the Instagram bio. The newest addition to York Boulevard at the old address of the Hi Hat (2016-2020), the venue has a fresh, colorful coat of paint on the facade alerting passersby of the forthcoming third location of the Thai street-eats spot, Sticky Rice. Atop the building, an iconic lone goldfish in a bowl has replaced the Highland Park Billiards sign.
Is it a music venue? Is it a pool hall? Is it a restaurant? All of the above.
Striving to be a neighborhood watering hole, it’s a place where “the hang comes first,” says co-owner Bryan Sharafkhah-Sharp, who partners with David Tewasart on the Sticky Rice locations in Echo Park and downtown’s Grand Central Market. Having just received the keys to the Highland Park room on May 1, he says construction “happened so fast.” In about just a month, he has overhauled the space, from plumbing to new carpeting, building a new stage and expanding the kitchen. Now, it’s just about finessing, and Sharafkhah-Sharp is sparing no tiny detail.
While it’s not quite ready for its close-up, the room is beautiful and distinct, plush booths line both sides of the new partition wall that is fit with clear wave glass blocks setting the fluid, flow-like-water overall tone of the room. A 40-inch disco ball lights up the carefully curated black-, white- and orange-checkered dance floor. Orange felt pool tables with wicker fish lights floating above will greet you upon entry and the bar will whisk you into a Goldfish grotto. Multi-colored seaweed, gemstones and blue sand dangle from the lattice canopy while a massive fish tank holding — you guessed it — real-life goldfish sits behind the bar.
Sharafkhah-Sharp likens it to the “Pirates of the Carribean” ride — that moment when you’ve gotten through it all and finally reach the Bayou. “That relaxing, we made it through the chaos feel,” he says. “That’s what this space is, especially after the year we’ve all had.”
As for programming, Sharafkhah-Sharp plans to keep it eclectic, with something different every night. Comedy, DJ nights a la Funky Sole and, of course, live bands. He elaborates that he is building it to be a “place you can go because there’s going to be something cool,” no pressure, no intimidation, just here to “serve the hang.”
The menu will be a pared-down version of the one at Sticky Rice’s Echo Park location, and like the previous inhabitant of the space, alcohol will be limited to beer and wine.
Entry will typically be free, but at the outset admission is for vaccinated folks only. Kitchen service will be both inside at the bar and outside, as York Boulevard wanderers are accustomed to. The plan is to open doors in early July. Stay tuned.
Britt Witt is a longtime contributor to Buzz Bands LA (and the former talent buyer at the Hi Hat).