Los Angeles is thought to be a city infatuated with the bright and shiny, the new and youthful. So, how to explain the King Eddy Saloon?
This downtown-Los Angeles watering hole, on the corner of Los Angeles and 5th street, has been open and serving drinks for over 90 years. Over the decades, it has not only survived business booms and busts, but also Prohibition. When the country went dry, owners of the King Eddy kept the bar wet by opening a rollicking speakeasy in the saloon’s basement storage room. In the decades since, the King Eddy has proudly embraced its reputation as the Holy Grail of Los Angeles dive bars, welcoming generations of customers looking for an honest drink at a good price in a place without a hint of pretension or posing.
Listen below: The Changing Face and Personality of Downtown Los Angeles
But what changing tastes and the passage of time haven’t managed to end, downtown gentrification might. The Croick family, which has owned the King Eddy since the early 1960s, has decided to sell the bar to investors Michael Leko and Will Shamlian. Leko and Shamlian are well known for buying up some of downtown L.A.’s choicest historic properties and turning them into boutique businesses for young, stylish urbanites moving into the neighborhood. The owners promise they’ll keep both the name and spirit of King Eddy alive, but regular customers fear the bar that has welcomed them their entire drinking lives might become unrecognizable. The story of the King Eddy is the story of a changing downtown. We’ll talk more about this, and gentrification, on tonight’s Which Way LA?
“This is different than all the other bars I’ve worked at” says bartender Irene Rivera.
King Eddy’s owner on how this is the only true dive bar in the area. “It’s a blue collar working man’s bar.”
“I really like it here, it’s full of real people”