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The Falls Set to Open on Spring's Nightlife Block

By Sommer Lawal
Published: Tuesday, July 20, 2010, at 05:10PM
IMG_9012 Ed Fuentes

Michelle Marini stands in front of The Falls, her soon-to-open Spring street bar that is one of three nightlife venues on the block between 6th and 7th.

Behind a heavy, bronzy, rustic door stands Michelle Marini – a classy, petite blonde who emerges peering through her oversized vintage tinted frames. She is holding down the fort at The Falls, the Spring street bar that she will be opening this week after a little more than a year of construction.

The cozy space has a retro modern look, but a nature feel that could easily be derived from a dive bar in Big Sur.

The Berkeley and UCLA Art grad is no novice to the bar business -- she owned well-known Hollywood spot Lava Lounge before partnering with Craig Trager of Vintage Bar Group to convert the space into The Woods three years ago. She then got into jewelry, but became bored with that and decided to make a return to the bar industry.

To do so, she picked a block that has turned into a burgeoning nightlife row. Immediately to the north is Exchange LA, the nightclub and private event space just reopening inside the historic Stock Exchange building. Just to the south is Spring St., the beer-heavy bar from Michael Leko and Will Shamlian that opened in April.

When asked about The Falls, Marini’s eyes brighten.  “I want to throw a party every night," she says. "Just like Lava Lounge, except the nightly entertainment.  At Lava, we booked four bands, six days a week.  At The Falls, I’d like to incorporate movies, film screenings and themed parties.” 

One can’t help but notice the detail in the design concepts that connect earth, rustic, glam and rock. Metallic circles sit in squares on the wall behind half-moon shaped booths. Amber, orange and warm hues are found throughout, while gold-finish tree stump tables match up with stacked logs embedded in the walls.  Chandeliers and disco lighting are intended to compliment the music selections of 70’s rock and pop.

Marini commissioned Downtown artist MATTEO to create a video sculpture, presenting colorful, moving images of waterfalls fused inside of hundreds of acrylic ice cubes. The design concept for the bar was created by Marini and executed by Chris Pieper of Pieper Commercial and Residential Contracting.

As we talk, downtowners peek curiously inside the space every few minutes. “I love the neighborhood!” exclaims Marini. "Downtown is not very ageist, mostly both twenty- and thirty-somethings, so I'm happy people a decade or two older will have just as much fun.” 

“This place is not mixology,” Marini announces matter-of-factly.  “But we do have fresh ingredients on the drink menu. We plan to do a vintage cocktail menu with modernized versions of old-school drinks.  For an added bonus, we’ll have freshly squeezed juices: lemon, kumquats, watermelon, basil and sage. We won't have drinks you'll have to wait twenty minutes prep time to enjoy. We will have wine for the distinguished palate including six choices: three reds and three whites for the wine aware.  We’ll have six beers on tap that will rotate occasionally as well as six bottles and cans. During the soft launch, we may keep things very simple as we’re just getting started.”

Marini gives credit to Al Almaeda, partner and ex-bartender, as her “right-hand man” in the drink menu handlings.

For her, the drinks and the decor need to work together to create a vibe that fits the neighborhood. “I just want the community to feel welcome here," she says. "There’s an eclectic flavor Downtown. Themed parties will always be fun and visually stimulating.  People should be comfortable in a suit or ball gown, men or women! Most importantly, my goal is to be a neighborhood bar, inviting to everyone.”

The Falls / 626 S. Spring


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