Hotel plan may endanger original Barney’s Beanery

Barney's Beanery

The original Barney’s Beanery restaurant and bar along Route 66 in West Hollywood, California, may be endangered by a proposed five-story hotel in that spot.

The Los Angeles Times reported on a few of the details:

The proposal — which is in its early stages — would see Barney’s entirely disassembled, stored offsite during construction and later rebuilt in the same spot at the intersection of Holloway Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard.

A 113-room hotel would be built behind and around it, replacing a surface parking lot and a sushi restaurant. There would be 244 underground parking spaces. […]

The proposed development on the Barney’s site would include a pool deck, restaurant, live music space and recording studio. According to the developers, it would take more than two years to build. Developers said Barney’s would have to be disassembled during construction in part because of the building of the underground parking but that it would be entirely preserved and rebuilt.

West Hollywood residents have expressed concern. They question whether there is a need for another hotel amid the growing city and its traffic. Mayor Lauren Meister said she doesn’t have an opinion on it yet, but she shares many of those concerns.

The original Barney’s Beanery, built in 1927, is not listed as a cultural resource, nor is it on the National Register of Historic Places. Even if it were listed on as a cultural resource, it would not prevent it from being razed of disassembled.

Trudi Sandmeier, director of graduate heritage conservation programs at the USC School of Architecture, told the Times it’s dubious for a developer to take apart a historic property and pledge to put it back together because doing so might cause structural issues or code problems.

The article makes it clear it likely will take years for the development to go through a review process before it begins — if it begins at all.

Barney’s Beanery has drawn a slew of stars over the years, including Bette Davis, John Barrymore, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Rita Hayworth, Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Janis Joplin, Quentin Tarantino, Rob Lowe, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, Charles Bukowski, John Cusack, Bette Midler and Jim Morrison.

The bar and restaurant also sports a collection of license plates from out-of-state travelers who drove Route 66 to California to stay for good. It also draws loyal customers because of its onion soup and chili.

Barney’s holds a controversial history, as well. The owner during the early 1950s, noting the area’s population of gay residents, erected a sign behind the bar that read “FAGOTS – STAY OUT.” That antagonism persisted until the sign finally was taken down for good in 1984 after pressure from gay-rights groups. Residents call that episode at Barney’s as a part of the “good, bad and ugly” in West Hollywood history and apparently hold no lasting grudge.

(Image of Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood, California, by Looking for Janis via Flickr)

One thought on “Hotel plan may endanger original Barney’s Beanery

  1. This may be an interesting read for those that are following along at home regarding this story:
    Afriat is the head of the company pushing through the development that would effect Barney’s.

    I will say publicly that I will be opposing this development in West Hollywood. It poses too much risk to the structural integrity of a culturally significant landmark along the Mother Road.

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