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Tony's Saloon Pushes Cedd Moses' Downtown Empire East

By Blue Derkin
Published: Friday, May 22, 2009, at 04:03PM
Tony's Peden+Munk

The dark wood interior of Tony's, on the southern edge of the Arts District.

In an almost anti-Hollywood move, the latest offering from Cedd Moses’ 213 Ventures opened without fanfare on Friday, May 15.

The unassuming soft opening was fitting for a bar that blends in quietly with its industrial surroundings. Much like 213's other bars, Tony's sets out to be a neighboring water hole. It's just further east. Much further east.

In fact, as I drove in search of Tony’s, I thought I had gone a bit too far east myself. Westsiders, take note of the address, and keep driving. You’ll find it.

“213 ventured further east to serve the diverse community who live and work in the Arts District, from the loft dwellers to the many artists and musicians with studios in the neighborhood,” said Joan McCraw, chief media officer for 213. “We also hope to attract urban explorers who are seeking an authentic high-quality but low-key environment to drink and hang out at without any of the trappings synonymous with Hollywood.”

After venturing out myself for a little urban exploring, I can report that Tony’s delivers on that mission statement. The bar manages to fill the niches it seeks to serve – it’s a local bar for locals, a destination for cocktail connoisseurs and even a place for a friendly Ping-Pong match while enjoying a can of beer.

The bar occupies its own lot on 7th Street, with lighted and secure parking. On walking in, an outdoor patio, complete with ping-pong table, is immediately to the left, while the long, narrow, and dimly-lit bar is to the right.

The design is thematically and decoratively coherent with Moses’ other Downtown ventures, like Cole’s and Seven Grand – a dark wood, antique bar dominates the main room, giving it a turn-of-the century saloon feel. Red, white, and blue bunting is draped behind the bar, and the walls are minimally decorated with artifacts celebrating the life and work of Hunter S. Thompson. Notable curios include some of Thompson’s hand-written notes, his famed cigarette holder, and badges commemorating his 1970 run for sheriff in Pitkin County, Colorado.

The most notable decorative feature, however, serves a more utilitarian purpose. Four large chalkboards stretch along the back wall, each filled with handwritten lists of the spirits offered at Tony’s. This feature, not coincidentally, illuminates the main goal of the bar – that is, to serve as a watering hole with an emphasis, as at other Moses ventures, on well-crafted, high-quality drinks.

Tony’s offers more whiskeys, Scotches, ryes, and bourbons than most Hollywood bars do patrons waiting outside. They're chosen to showcase the mixology skills of the venue's management and staff.

The bartenders make a mean Manhattan, a stately mint julep, and just about any other mixed drink anyone could want. If a cocktail isn’t what’s desired, then any of the exclusively California-brewed beers on tap should serve to satisfy. With the libations menu offered, Tony’s definitely gives its patrons, as McCraw puts it, a “fully loaded and potent drinking experience.”

There’s also a pool table, the aforementioned Ping-Pong table, a widescreen TV, and a jukebox loaded with diverse but always-classic hits, but one gets the impression that these diversions are always to take a backseat to the real star of the bar – that is, Moses’ almost fanatical devotion to offering Downtown drinkers a real, saloon-like experience that one can get nowhere else in town. From the skilled, friendly, and vested bartenders who serve real drinks to the dark wood and soft lighting that surrounds, Tony’s Saloon offers those willing to make the trek a unique but familiar take on the neighborhood tavern.

Tony's / 2017 E. 7th St (East of Mateo) / Arts District / 213-622-5523

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