Welcome to Front & Center, a series highlighting front of the house professionals in Los Angeles restaurants. Right now: Whitney Lader of HoopLAblog on Stone Dread of Bar Lubitsch/El Carmen:
I moved to Los Angeles five years ago without any friends, a job, or even someone to point me in the right direction. I quickly found work on West 3rd Street. One day while trying to kill time between work and dinner, my co-worker and I fell upon Bar Lubitsch on Santa Monica Boulevard. I immediately fell in love with the interior of this Russian vodka bar. With the red accents, tile floors, and attention to detail down to the coasters, it was apparent that this bar was conceived with passion. My co-worker and I were the only people in there. We sat at the bar, ordered some hand-crafted cocktails, and talked with the few bartenders and staff that were getting ready for their evening shift.
I was amazed at the amount of fresh ingredients available to create their specialty cocktails. Drinks were truly an art form. As we sat there enjoying our beverages, I mentioned I was a graphic designer and the manager, Stone Dread, quickly perked up and explained how he had been looking for a designer for some side projects. We exchanged information, sipped some vodka, and soon Bar Lubitsch became my "go to" bar. Stone always took care of me. Whether I popped in at 9 p.m. or midnight, there was never a wait to get inside. For an LA newbie, it was pretty nice to be able to walk right up and not worry about the line wrapping around the corner. Stone has also seen his fair share of guys I have dated and, like a big brother, always asked what their story was and kept a watchful eye. Bar Lubitsch was a place of comfort and familiarity I needed in a new city. It was all because of Stone.
Stone and I haven't worked on a project for a bit and he has since relocated to El Carmen. Every time I walk in, it's the same warm hello and big brother figure. El Carmen probably has the largest list of tequilas I have ever seen and some of the best sangria, too. Abundance seems to be the theme here. From the tequila list to the Mexican decorations. From the vintage fans, to the velvet Lucha Libre paintings, this intimate, dimly lit place is authentically Mexican. I was sad to see Stone leave the first bar I loved in LA, but I can see he fits perfectly into the El Carmen scene. The staff is always as friendly as is he. El Carmen has quickly become a staple of my favorite restaurants and bars and every time I run into Stone or head to El Carmen, I am always greeted with a warm smile.
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