Things are starting to heat up at the iconic Mr. T’s Bowl in Highland Park, with ownership plotting to reopen the space sometime in late April after a two year hiatus. What's more: they'll be returning the bar to its former iteration as Highland Park Bowl, which first came into existence in 1927. Of course the surrounding neighborhood has changed much since then, but the bar group believes that their plan to bring live music, booze, and bowling back to Figueroa will be as relevant as ever. It certainly seems likely.
Mr. T’s has been quiet since early 2014, when it was first announced that the always-busy 1933 Group (Harlowe, Sassafras, Bigfoot West) would be taking control of the property. All along they’ve had plans to restore and reinvigorate the address (much like they’ve done with Idle Hour in North Hollywood), but it takes time to scrape the place down to its 1927 bones and then build it all back up.
Originally a straight-up bowling alley some 80-plus years ago, over time the space transitioned into Mr. T’s, an iconic live music venue for the neighborhood. The room was particularly proficient in the 80’s and 90’s during the rise of DIY punk shows, while still serving alcohol to the neighborhood at large. Somewhere around 30 years ago the bowling aspect of things went away completely, but the 1933 team has plans to bring that (and the name) back around, once again making Highland Park Bowl the oldest operating bowling alley in the city of Los Angeles.
Of course there will still be live music as well. Much like The Hi Hat over on the other side of the neighborhood, the plan is to integrate live shows into a casual drinking space (plus all that bowling), to create a one-stop shop for just about everyone. They’re also tearing the place down to its Spanish revival roots, even using old pinsetters as iron chandeliers.
Highland Park Bowl will of course serve craft beer and a small selection of food, but the focus is primarily on cocktails that harken back to different eras of the Mr. T’s / Highland Park Bowl experience. Bar and menu details are still coming together, but don’t be surprised if a big bartender name ends up attached to the place before it opens in April.
And when it does open, expect Highland Park Bowl to further anchor a stretch of Figueroa that has perhaps seen the most new turnover of the entire neighborhood. Not only is Civil Coffee now up and running right next door, but RBTA is coming soon with a robata grill concept and Birdie, the sophomore effort from the Horse Thief BBQ team, isn’t far behind.
Highland Park Bowl
5621 N. Figueroa
Los Angeles, CA