I still remember Nickodell, nestled between KHJ Channel 9 and Paramount Studios on Melrose almost as if it were a part of the studio complex. I was lucky enough to go there (way past its heyday) in the 80’s to grab an ice cream at the counter on a trip to the Paramount lot. I still remember snapping a shot of the mighty neon sign atop the building. Traveling up Melrose nowadays, I can almost still see it through the fog of history.
In 1936, restauranteur Nick Slavich took over the joint originally called the Melrose Grotto, and made it his own, at some point re-dubbing it Nickodell, a mash-up his and his wife’s names. (He owned another Nickodell a bit north on Argyle, but that’s another story.) It was an eatery (and boozery), largely popular with studio types, dishing out old school American fare like steaks, baked potatoes, and beloved Caesar salads.
Nickodell closed in November of ’93 and was subsequently demolished by Paramount in ’94 to make way for a few more spots in their parking lot, leaving us only with a few matchbooks and fond memories.
When I got to Los Angeles in ’78 there was still some of it left, like this bar located in a warehouse building across from the old fruit and vegetable wholesale mart in downtown Los Angeles. Too much of this entire area has been razed along with the memories of anyone who once had a drink in the Terminal. I have yet to find one posting of the Terminal Bar let alone the Terminal Cafe that adjoined the joint. Being the fool that I was, all I have is this snap shot. At the time, I wasn’t ready to have a drink in every joint I photographed and Oh Boy what a fool this guy was. I can say that because I was that fool.
Enjoy this photo, because that’s all that’s left of the Terminal Bar. Find more photos of long gone bars in Los Angeles here.
Several decades before the reinvention of downtown Los Angeles into a loftified art walk circus, the place was dead at night. Dead and scary with zombie crack addicts and also sad and lonely with one of America’s most populated tent city homeless encampments. Today every classic joint has been purchased and reinvented by well-oiled club magnates and skid row is planted with 8am-midnight parking meters. But back then, few ventured downtown at night. There was Al’s Bar, a spotty arts district and Gorky’s. Gorky’s, a 24 hour restaurant serving hardy eastern European soul food and their own brew. Craft beer in the heart of downtown LA decades before the term craft beer was even thought of my a few yuppie entrepreneurs. But downtown Los Angeles got a lot worse before it got better and Gorky’s didn’t make the cut. All the facts are contained in a long ago published article in the LA Times that’s still available if you follow this link.
Sometimes I wonder if Gorky’s even existed. But then I found this shot hidden away in an old box of negatives. Someone wearing a Gorky’s tee shirt. That sight inspired a mind’s eye vision of visiting Gorky’s late one night for the stew. It was freezing outside, my breath a frozen cloud in front of my face. Long Live Gorky’s! Long Live deserted downtown LA, where the produce market bar rocked and rolled every morning until 9am. Now that was some good time.