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Cinerama Dome
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/vistavision

13 L.A. businesses Angelenos want to bring back from the dead

The ArcLight, Koo Koo Roo, Cha Cha Cha: These are some of the spots Angelenos wish they could revive.

Michael Juliano
Edited by
Michael Juliano
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The persistent pace of openings in Los Angeles means that there’s always something new to check out—but that also inevitably means we have to witness the loss of some of our favorite hangouts, whether they’ve wound down on their own terms or against their will.

With that in mind, we turned to our readers and posed this hypothetical question on our Instagram: If you could bring back any L.A. business, which one would you? The answers spanned categories, neighborhoods and eras. Some spots closed during the pandemic, others shuttered years ago. Some were decades-old institutions that made an impact on generations of Angelenos, and others were short-lived but no less beloved.

No matter the circumstances surrounding their demise, these are the restaurants, bars, museums and music venues that our readers wish they could bring back, with a few words explaining each pick.

Koo Koo Roo

Titled after the sound of a crowing rooster, this L.A.-born chain specialized in its skinless charbroiled chicken—a relatively healthy option among the fast food landscape. After a quick expansion in the early ’90s, the number of locations began to dwindle, and to stay afloat Koo Koo Roo at one time purchased both Color Me Mine and now-defunct local chain Hamburger Hamlet; eventually, the last location in Santa Monica closed in 2014.

“I would love to see Koo Koo Roo come back because their mac and cheese and grilled chicken were simply the best! Even as a young picky eater, I would look forward to whenever my family and I ate there.” @hernameiscayla

Oil Can Harry’s

A little bit country, this Studio City gay bar specialized in line dancing downstairs and stellar karaoke in the loft upstairs. Oil Can Harry’s opened in 1968; it was a hotspot during the disco era and hosted many fund raisers during the AIDS epidemic. Though its mustachioed mascot said goodbye in early 2021 after the building was sold, the city has since recognized the site as an official Historic-Cultural Monument.

“It was the chillest LGBT-queer space in L.A. And disco nights were the best! Just a great crowd and warm, welcoming staff.” @ryanfieldinggarrett

The Satellite
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ju Dadalto

The Satellite

Silver Lake’s the Satellite died twice: First in 2011, when its 15-year run as Spaceland came to a close, and again in 2020, when the pandemic ended its days as the Satellite. It was once the epicenter of Silver Lake’s music scene, an intimate space to see locals like Beck and Silversun Pickups, and later a regular hangout for parties like Dance Yourself Clean or hilariously hack stand-up from Neil Hamburger. The venue publicly flirted with flipping into a restaurant, but that never quite materialized; instead its social handles have become a virtual hub for music discovery.

“The Satellite was such a staple for the L.A. music scene over the last few decades, a legendary tastemaker with the best atmosphere. Whether you were there to see an up-and-coming band, dance yourself clean or grab a late-night drink, it was always a great time.” @jasminedockstader

Ernie Jr.’s Taco House

The Cruz family’s first Ernie’s dated back to the 1940s, though this Eagle Rock outpost came slightly later. The grande burrito specialists wrapped up their four-decade run in 2014, when the namesake septuagenarian owner decided the restaurant had simply become too challenging to run.

“It’d be nice to see Ernie Jr.’s revived since I have a glimmer of hope every time I pass the sign that remains with an empty building that is just begging to be reopened. My family had been going there for dinners and birthdays for decades for the great food and festive atmosphere, but since it closed we haven’t found that go-to celebration spot.” @carlyhalili

Greenblatt's Deli
Photograph: Victor LeungPastrami Reuben at Greenblatt's Deli-Restaurant

Greenblatt’s Deli

This Jewish deli on the Sunset Strip was a fixture since 1926, back when the famous street turned into a dirt road only a few blocks to the west. For its final few decades, its till-2am hours paired perfectly with its comedy club neighbor, the Laugh Factory. Alas, the knishes, pastrami sandwiches and rotisserie chicken dinners ceased when Greenblatt’s closed in 2021.

“Greenblatt’s #5 sandwich was my favorite in the city. And I could have it until the wee hours of the morning.” @jimcomeau

Cha Cha Cha

The jerk chicken was fired up and the sangria flowed for three decades at this much-loved Caribbean restaurant in Virgil Village. The spot closed in 2016, only to see a condo complex in the very same spot co-opt its name and neon sign a few years later.

“Having recently returned to L.A. after 18 years in New York, I was devastated to learn that Cha Cha Cha had been replaced by a condo building. This vibrant Caribbean restaurant had been a well-loved destination for decades. While there are a lot of restaurants on Virgil that draw crowds these days, Cha Cha Cha was effortlessly charming and full of personality. Even though it was a lifetime ago, I still perfectly remember its brightly covered vinyl tablecloths and the taste of the flawless spicy and sweet jerk chicken.” @jackiewas

Bar 107
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Laurie Avocado

Bar 107

When Bar 107 swooped onto 4th Street in 2005 (and replaced the old gay bar Score), the cheap beer hipster hangout was part of a Historic Core transformation dominated by converted lofts and art walks. A decade later, the dive (known for its “no dance music” policy) found itself kicked from its lease in an increasingly expensive DTLA—though nothing has taken over the space since then.

“Bar 107 was the dive bar in L.A.—walking into the red-lit room was an experience of its own. With the massive horse statue that filled the middle of the bar and your good ol’ Schlitz beer, it’s hard to meet those standards nowadays. My 20s are memorable because of Bar 107.” @phaniiechicas

ArcLight Cinemas

Reserved stadium seating may now be standard among movie theaters, but there are so many other enviable aspects of the ArcLight that haven’t made the jump to other multiplexes: no ads and limited trailers, in-person intros, consistently excellent projection quality, select 21-plus screenings and a no talking, texting or late arrivals policy. The ArcLight became synonymous with bougie moviegoing in L.A., particularly at its original outpost in Hollywood, which opened in 2002—aside, of course, from its crown jewel Cinerama Dome, a 1963 structure that specialized in pushing the boundaries of aspect ratios. The entire chain shuttered in 2021, and though a liquor license renewal has teased a reopening for the Hollywood location, it’s unlikely until late 2023 at best.

“The ArcLight was the first theater I went to after arriving in L.A., and it never disappointed. It not only provided the best movie-going experience, but it gave me incredible memories —like watching Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood with Quentin Tarantino sitting a few rows behind me. I miss it!” @atopkes

Mh Zh

Though its vegetable-forward Middle Eastern menu wasn’t exactly a rarity in L.A., the whole package at his Silver Lake sidewalk spot was: Mh Zh (pronounced “mah zeh”) managed to put together tasty, beautifully-plated meals in an affordable and casual environment until it closed in 2020.

“It was a rare find in L.A.: not pretentious, and great quality that you didn’t care to have to sit on a milk carton on the sidewalk—all part of its charm!” @damlafgas

The Annenberg Space for Photography
Photograph: Courtesy the Annenberg Space for Photography

Annenberg Space for Photography

The history of hip-hop, the wealth gap, country music icons, the global refugee crisis, portraits of threatened species: The Annenberg Space for Photography hosted some of the most challenging, rewarding and beautiful displays of photography that we’ve seen in Los Angeles (not to mention some excellent free concerts in its courtyard). But sadly, the free Century City museum closed in 2020 after a 10-year run.

“It was an amazing photography museum with rotating exhibitions, each one better than the last! I always had an incredible experience and the gift shop was the best, perfect for finding cool presents. I appreciated that it was free and every new series was fascinating and informative, a perfect way to spend an afternoon!” @zalimac

Rockwell Table & Stage

Home to live musical parodies of horror movies and rom-coms and regular jazz evenings with Jeff Goldblum, this Los Feliz patio and lounge went permanently dark in 2021. 

“I chose Rockwell Table & Stage because the performances and music at each show there were so wonderful. So much talent, along with a great staff and amazing food and drinks. It was the ultimate dinner-and-show experience, the perfect night out.” @linskiti

ink.sack
Photograph: Jakob N. Laymanink.sack

ink.sack

Back before the rest of the world recognized L.A. as a dining darling, chef Michael Voltaggio grabbed headlines for concocting all sorts of avant-garde dishes at ink. But just a few feet away, those buzzworthy flavors came in sandwich form at ink.sack, where you could savor spicy tuna or cold fried chicken for a fraction of the price. The space shuttered in 2018 after seven years, though a quick service stall that shares its name but basically nothing else persists at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.

“ink.sack has such a special place in my heart, as it was my first meal after moving to L.A. and signing the lease over eight years ago. It felt so L.A.—hip but casual, right by Melrose Place, and a damn good sandwich. And I’m offended that I now have to book an international flight to get my hands on one.” @britt_vanheisch

The Bourgeois Pig

Covered in ivy on the outside, barely lit on the inside, this cozy Franklin Village hangout worked just as well for midday screenwriting sessions as it did some late-night casual pool. After 32 years in operation, the Bourgeois Pig closed earlier in 2022 due to rising rent, but the team behind it is currently fund raising for a future outside of Franklin Avenue.

“Bourgeois Pig was home to many of my college memories: study sessions, coffee hangouts with friends, late-night pool, reading bad poetry inside the tree trunk. It evoked nostalgia in the best possible way; it made me feel 21 again.” @animosinyan

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