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A Famous Melrose Bar Is Flipping Into a Vegan Sushi and Cocktail Spot

APB will offer vegan cocktails and mocktails from barman Julian Cox, along with a full menu of vegan sushi inside the former Darkroom space

As sun sets, green neon lights the way to a dim dive bar.
The closed former Darkroom on Melrose.
The Darkroom
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

A well-known Melrose bar hangout is being reborn next month, as the former Darkroom makes way for a new lounge called APB, a shortening not of “all-points bulletin” but of All Plant Based. What distinguishes APB will be a focus on vegan-certified spirits and a menu of vegan sushi by Niku Nashi.

APB comes from Jeffrey Best and Ken Jones, two longtime bar and restaurant operators known most famously for Firefly in the Valley, Warwick in Hollywood, and, more recently, the Hideaway in Beverly Hills. They’ve brought in Julian Cox to oversee the opening bar menu, which moves beyond the usual stuff to include a full array of non-alcoholic drinks. There will even be an after-work mocktail menu, dubbed “zero hour,” for happy hour vibes without the booze; and on Sundays, APB will go entirely alcohol-free.

As for the design, expect a greenhouse feel with lots of plant life woven throughout trellised booths and leafy corners. It’s far from the original Darkroom, a brick-and-brass gastropub that was known for over a decade as a reliable place for stiff drinks on Melrose — not quite a dive bar, but definitely not a trendy hangout. The Darkroom closed in 2020.

As for food, chef Niko Zaragoza (previously of Ooka Sushi, Teppanyaki House, and Sushi R91) brings in his project Niku Nashi, which will take over the kitchen inside. Niku Nashi is the newest all-vegan sushi option in greater LA, leaning into faux seafood like crab rolls and protein alternatives like roasted maitake mushrooms. Along with partner Brad Saltzman (Nancy’s Fancy gelato), the plan is to eventually expand Niku Nashi outside of APB, opening multiple locations under its own name. For now, though, find the company’s vegan sushi paired with Julian Cox’s cocktails and mocktails starting next month at 7302 Melrose Avenue.