On September 28, Cold Shoulder opened a half-block away from the Writers Guild West building on Fairfax and Third Street. It’s accessible via a hidden bookcase from inside the decade-old Blue Collar bar with a firm speakeasy entry rule: Guests need a special invitation and know the revolving password to enter the hidden bookcase.
It took two years for actor Vincent Laresca and the Blue Collar Hospitality team to convert this former nail salon into a bar. As an actor who invested in restaurants and bars throughout his career — including Studio City’s Roadside Tacos, plus shuttered bars Rusty Mullet and Outpost — Laresca says Cold Shoulder is a passion project for the community. “I come from New York where nightlife was all about the freaks that come out at night,” says Laresca. “These were people that went out for a drink to meet somebody new. But it became less about that and more like who has the most money and who can afford the most expensive table. That turned me off from the reason why I got into the business, and became the idea behind Blue Collar and Cold Shoulder.”
The team built the space from a basic blank slate into a colorful one with furniture, decorations, and fixtures turned upside down. There are plenty of wooden fixtures throughout, with rugs, a fireplace, and barstools affixed to the ceiling, a wall of ornate presidential portraits, blue banquettes, and high-tops. Across The Board Design Co. put together the thoughtful use of the space.
Be prepared for a little sticker shock when receiving the bill. Beers are $18, while cocktails start at $20 and can include classic pina coladas, dirty martinis, an adult rootbeer float, or a watermelon agua fresca with New Amsterdam Vodka. The $50 seasonal top-shelf drinks will require patience. A bartender sets a flame to the Benjamin cocktail’s s’mores garnish, while the Bananas Foster is presented on a marble platter and uses real bananas, black walnut liqueur, Koloa Rum, chocolate bitters, and vanilla ice cream before it’s topped with bacon bits, dried bananas, mixed nuts, and caramel. There are plenty of detailed touches throughout Cold Shoulder, right down to the hand-drawn menu.
Laresca also notes that Cold Shoulder is a thank you to the area for its constant support, especially during the early part of the pandemic. Los Angeles bars struggled as social distancing restrictions limited operations, but Laresca says Fairfax residents stepped up by buying gift cards for Blue Collar in 2020. “The neighborhood really has been fantastic to us and we want to give back,” says Laresca. “During early COVID-19, we’d have somebody standing outside to buy a gift card. There are no investors. It’s just all of our own money. We’re trying to be a member of the community and also give back. That’s our responsibility as business owners.”
Cold Shoulder is open daily from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. at 359 South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90036. Find the Blue Collar hostess to grant access.