bar rescue: weber's in reseda, ca
When I first walked into Weber’s, I knew I had my hands full. A former strip club, converted to a concert venue that featured punk, rockabilly, and metal bands, with beveled mirrors along one side, Weber’s is an accident that just keeps happening.
Like many of the bars we feature, Webber’s has been through a lot of different identities in the last 20 years, and retained a little of each one along the way, so that in the end, it is neither fish nor fowl – magically designed, in a bizarre bar Petri dish, to be totally unable to build a consistent clientele. The bar itself was a reminiscent of a Midwest saloon complete with a centrally located cow skull. The stage, while functional later in the evenings for live music, was an empty waste of potential income all other hours. A seductive staircase climbed above with promises of an inviting loft only to deliver a jumble of excess chairs, dusty silk plants and storage boxes. The table tops were covered with battered black vinyl and the chairs looked like they were bargain buys from a teen center.
When I first drove up, I knew that I had my work cut out for me. Crammed in between a partially boarded-up auto stereo installer that looked like one of the places Tony Soprano would drop by to collect a brown bag of cash, and a lawnmower shop with enough bars on the windows to withstand the zombie apocalypse, Weber’s featured three signs to announce their presence to the world. Two of these were non-functional and located on the main street; whoever installed the second one had apparently disliked the other sign so much that they decided to make them look completely different. The result was that, although they said exactly the same thing and were less than 8 feet apart, it looked like two distinctly different establishments that coincidentally had the same name, and disliked each other very much as a result. The burnt red color of the building screamed backyard patio barbeque store.
The back side was even more unnerving. Signage is everything with bars, and the battered, wind-shredded sign that proclaimed the world’s least likely Happy Hour was delicately wrapped in smudged, torn, and faded flags advertising some distant drinking holiday – Cinco de Patric? The World Bowl? The ad gave off a delicate air of abandonment, leaving the distinct impression that if you wandered too close to the patio and the wind shifted, your hair would smell like cigarettes had barfed in it.
Make sure to tune into Spike TV this Sunday to see the drama of turning around this failing bar in 72 hours and how Jon Taffer’s rescue panned out. Be sure to check out nightclub.com for exclusive coverage of each episode.