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Monday, June 8, 2009

This Echo Park dive bar might be living up to its name

What's happened to Little Joy? First there was the sandwich board on the sidewalk promoting "happy hour" specials and then the big colorful murals appeared on the exterior of the dingy bar at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Portia Street. Inside, the wood paneling has been painted Pepto-pink and there are new bartenders, DJs and booze. These are some of the recent signs of a change in management and vibe at Little Joy, one of Eastside's most popular dive bars, and not everyone is happy.

"Here's the thing: the previous incarnation of Little Joy was divey and strange, but it had personality," said a Yelp comment posted by Justin M., who used to DJ at the bar. "The guy who was the manager is a great, smart guy, one whose ties with the artistic community on the east side allowed a certain artistic sensibility to flourish in the space. Now that's all gone. I dunno, I'm pretty disappointed. The owners of this place really have no clue what they're doing, I'm guessing. It's a disaster right now."

At one point there seemed to be no hipper place to hang out, with the former Latino gay bar (also referred to as Little Joy Jr. or The Little Joy) turned into a rec room for the new generation of beatniks, posers and the curious. Jay Babcock from Arthur magazine would spin records while plaid-shirted fans flocked to country-western nights organized by Joe McGraw. Little Joy soared into public limelight last year when Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti named his new band after the bar.

But the new management's less ironic attitude and decision to shed some of Little Joy's artistic ambitions, or pretensions, could not have come sooner, said the blogger at Food She Thought:

"The bar is just better. I can tell it's a better fit for me because someone else had angrily graffiti'd in the ladies' room that it now sucks at The Little Joy. If it sucks for some 21 year old graffiti'ing hipster, chances are I might like it a little better."

Bottom photo from Food She Thought

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