After we lavished praise on S Bar, the new SBE-owned bar next to Katsuya on Hollywood and Vine, we assumed what we were told---that it was no way like Hyde or Area, no invite-only lists, no table reservations and all the typical velvet-robe crap---was true. But we've been getting scattered reports from readers and friends about not getting in, like this one:
I was excited to check out Sbar this weekend for a friend's birthday. However, I can't tell you how it was, since WE WERE NEVER ALLOWED IN. It wasn't the usual bar schtick where, because they don't deem you cool enough to enter, they make you wait indefinitely in line until your patience and/or stamina just can't take it anymore. No. Sbar was much more direct. The bouncer just told us they "couldn't accommodate us." Mind you, it was 9:00 and the bar had just opened. There was no one in line, and no one inside (since they had literally just turned down the lights and unlocked the doors.) I was very disappointed, especially since Sbar played itself up as the anti-hollywood spot, with no lists or reservations needed.Reader Justin, who was with five girls and one other guy, all dressed well, also posted a review on Yelp, where he asked: "I'm curious to hear your opinions on whether this had anything to do with the fact that we were all Asian...I do not ordinarily equate poor treatment with racism, but there was something in the bouncer's tone and demeanor that was really upsetting." In truth, the staff is very racially mixed at S Bar, so it's tough to hang a "racist" claim on SBE, plus there's that whole Katsuya connection. But why didn't the door guy let this group in? Ironically, we were at S Bar that night around that time and were already interrogating the staff about door policies and dress codes (never off the clock). What we found out, next.
We entered through the "VIP" entrance from the Katsuya sushi bar (hey, sometimes it's good to know people), so we didn't have to deal with the door guys. The bar was completely empty around 9:30 and only half full when we left around 11pm. The VIP hostess skirted most of our door policy questions and finally said, "ask the publicist." The GM politely told us that entry is at the discretion of the door handlers. But what exactly will get someone vetoed, we asked? "No athletic wear, no torn clothes. We're going for a look here, a certain vibe," he said.
Hmmm. While we get the dress codes, the fact that there was no definitive answer to who will or will not get in doesn't bode well for the masses. And even more interesting because we hear the plan is to open S Bar as a partner to the forthcoming Katsuyas in Glendale and Downtown. We also found out that you can reserve a table, and while there isn't bottle service per se, expect to spend some dough if you reserve. "Your chances of getting another table next time are slim" if you just buy a round of drinks and linger. So while we still love the decor of S Bar, think most of the drinks are kick-ass (not the yellow pepper whatever; too sweet, a poor use of good gin) and like the music, it's "just a neighborhood bar" with those SBE standards and practices that can't quite be defined. Adjust accordingly.
· Hangover Observations Part II: S Bar Launch Party [~ELA~]