Blue Palms Brewhouse and Why There’s #OccupyBluePalms

Posted by Darryl | Bars, Breweries & Alehouses, Craft Beer, Restaurants | Posted on January 9th, 2012

Scroll to the bottom of this post for my latest updates about the status of the Blue Palms Brewhouse.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area and a fan of craft beer, then you probably have heard of Blue Palms Brewhouse. (On the web at bluepalmsbrewhouse.com, on Twitter @BluePalms_Brew, and on Facebook.)Many craft beer affectionados from outside the Southern California area know of it as well, and make a point to stop in for a visit when they’re in town. They feature a great food menu that includes 9 different sausages, prime rib sandwiches that melt in your mouth, tasty chicken and fish dishes, and much much more. On the liquid side, in addition to a full bar, they feature 24 specialty craft beers and 1 cask ale on draft — all of which are on rotation — as well as an extensive bottle list that includes some rare, well aged craft beers. Trust me… ask to see the bottle list. They’ve passionately done a great deal to help promote Craft Beer in the Los Angeles area. That’s the other great thing about them. In addition to the food and drink, there’s the people. Not just the staff, but all the clientele that continually pack the place wall to wall. If you don’t strike up a conversation with a stranger while you’re there, you’re missing out and probably just anti-social anyway. Blue Palms is truly a community meeting place. Not just for those living in the Hollywood area, but for the craft beer community member as well.

FIRST VISIT
On May 21st, 2010, with tickets in hand to see OK Go at The Music Box at the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood, I talked my party into having dinner at this little bar in the same building that I had heard wonderful things about; the Blue Palms Brewhouse. It was only 6 days after my visit to the Orange County Beer Festival where I had made my personal discovered of the great variety and diversity of craft beer. Even in that short span of less than a week I had heard a great deal about Blue Palms; an overwhelming amount of positive accolades for its food, drink, and people. I knew it was a place I had to visit and the show was the perfect opportunity. I’m glad I did. And now, I’m sorry I didn’t go back again more often!

THE PROBLEM
Around 10:00 am on the morning of Friday, January 6, 2012 I learned that The Music Box at the Henry Fonda Theater had closed its doors; not closing, but indeed already closed. The little information I was able to obtain at the time was that the owners of The Music Box had violated their lease with the building’s owners and were being served with an eviction notice. I’ve since learned that some of those violations were changes made by the TMB owners that included extensive redecorating, electrical work to modify the lighting and sound system, and changes in the owners of TMB which essentially changed who was occupying the space, all without letting the owner of the property know. Although The Music Box is a great venue, my immediate reaction was one of panic for Blue Palms as I tweeted:

Darryl Levi @TheBeerdolt
The @themusicboxla is closed. Not closing… CLOSED. What does this mean for @BluePalms_Brew ????

I already had plans for the day which made it difficult to seek out more information, and without a response to my tweet, and the few phone calls to the Music Box and Blue Palms going unanswered or straight to voicemail, I was in the dark for much of the day. Later though, I saw that Blue Palms was indeed being evicted as well. Shortly after that information was posted out to the social media world, I saw the #OccupyBluePalms hashtag make its appearance on Twitter and the cry went out for people to come in to Blue Palms to show their support during what may be their final days. Fortunately for me, my weekend plans already included heading to Blue Palms for dinner, so I’d have an opportunity to see and participate in #OccupyBluePalms first hand.

STAYING OPTIMISTIC
When I got to Blue Palms the occupy effort was in full force. The place was packed, but knowing the cause, the wait for a dinner table was well worth it. Besides, I was still able to wait with a beer or three from the bar.

I had an opportunity to chat with the owner Brian Lenzo and despite the circumstances he, as well as everyone in attendance, seemed in good spirits. I learned that Blue Palms’ lease was actually a sub-lease of The Music Box’s and that it was scheduled for ALL keys to the building to be turned over to the Sheriff’s department Monday morning at 9:00 am; the Blue Palms’ keys as well. It was more of the legalities of the leases that caused Blue Palms to become affected by the eviction, and not because the owner has any issue with Blue Palms.

When I had pulled into to the adjacent parking lot, I noticed that personnel from The Music Box were still unloading furnishings into moving containers, which made sense since they had to be out by Monday morning. I also noticed that nothing had been removed from Blue Palms, which didn’t make sense if they had to be out too. Brian shared that he had been in contact with the owner and despite the eviction activities and legalities around it, it looked like the best of this worst case scenario was that they would have to close for a few days, but would then be able to reopen again in the same location. When I asked what he would do in the worst of the worst case scenario — where they were truly evicted and unable to reopened at the same building — he assured me that he intended to find another location and all that Blue Palms Brewhouse had come to mean to the local and craft beer communities would continue.

FURTHER OPTIMISM AND A FEW MORE DAYS
As I sat down to finish writing this on Monday the 9th, I saw rumored on Twitter — posted by someone other than Blue Palms —  that they are scheduled to be open tonight for their regular hours, and will be showing the Sugar Bowl. I briefly touched base with Brian who confirmed this, as well as that they were given an additional 3 days to remain open! This means you have more time to come in and show your support! He also let me know that he will be meeting with the owner of the building in the coming days to discuss what exactly can be done in light of the eviction of The Music Box, and what will happen when the new tenants* move into the theater space. Again, he seemed very optimistic, not only that the Blue Palms may be able to remain, but also by the overwhelming support that the community has shown over the past few days.

I encourage you to help out as well, simply by stopping in to support the Blue Palms by having a pint or two, maybe some food, and #OccupyBluePalms.

UPDATE — WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11th
My Visit on Tuesday
I had the good fortune to be passing through the Hollywood area yesterday evening, (actually, I made a point of taking a route through Hollywood) so I was able to make another stop in at Blue Palms Brewhouse. My guest and I walked in the door around 9:00 pm and was happy to see that each table was still filled, as well as every spot at the bar. Tuesday was Pint Night and all pints from 5:00-10:00 were $4.00, so after getting on the waiting list for a table we grabbed a couple of beers at the bar. The wait was short — I didn’t get through my first beer — and we soon got seated. I asked our waitress for help with the tough choice between getting the truffle burger and the prime rib french dip. She said that if I never had the truffle burger then I should definitely get it. I did, and was incredibly happy that I did! It was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. By the end of the night, I had one of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted, a Maharaja by Avery Brewing, a Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing, Jubilee by Eagle Rock Brewery, and from Blue Palms’ awesome bottle list a Consecration, also from Russian River.

I also had the chance again to briefly chat with Brian. Things were continuing status quo, and although the various lawyers for Blue Palms and the building’s owner were in conversations, it still seemed that this would be the second-to-last day for the Blue Palms and they would have to close the doors — although perhaps temporarily — after Wednesday the 11th; today.

The Good News
Earlier today, Blue Palms Brewhouse posted on Twitter:

Blue Palms Brewhouse @BluePalms_Brew
We have great news! Thanks to all of your continued support, the owner of the building has agreed to allow us to… http://fb.me/12oMkVxLA

and more completely, on their Facebook page:

We have great news! Thanks to all of your continued support, the owner of the building has agreed to allow us to continue operating for at least the next 2-3 weeks. We continue to discuss a long term solution with the owner and remain hopeful that a deal can soon be reached. The owner has been, and continues to be incredibly accommodating during this uncertain time following the closure of The Music Box. We want our fans and customers to know that the owner has been very fair with us and is doing all she can to allow us to continue serving amazing food and craft beer to the Los Angeles Community. We’ll continue to post updates on Facebook & Twitter as new information becomes available. Thank you all for your continued support. Join us in raising a toast to the owner for her kindness and understanding. Cheers!

This means that I have a little more time to get in there and try that prime rib french dip, as well as more beers!!

Keep up on the latest information on Blue Palms Brewhouse’s Twitter and/or Facebook!

 

* All indications are that Goldenvoice (On the internet at goldenvoice.com, Twitter @goldenvoice, and Facebook.) is moving into the theater space. This was shared with me by former Music Box personnel, as well as others at Saturday’s #OccupyBluePalms effort. Goldenvoice has added “The Music Box” to their list of venues, and shows that were previously listed at The Music Box have on-sale dates on Goldenvoice’s website.

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