The “Le Barcito” sign has come down from the front of Silver Lake’s former Gay Latino bar as the new owners build a new bar and restaurant inside. While the new owners operate the Village Idiot on Melrose Avenue, there are indications that they may not simply repeat the Village Idiot name in Silver Lake but instead pay homage to a piece of L.A. gay history. The same building that housed Le Barcito was once home to another gay bar, The Black Cat Tavern, where in 1967 LAPD officers beat and arrested gay patrons, triggering one of the nation’s first gay rights demonstrations, In 2008, the city declared the building a historic landmark. While the Le Barcito name has been removed from the top of the purple facade, the smiling image of a black cat – a hold over from the old bar – still remains at the top of the sign overlooking Sunset Boulevard. Meanwhile, the state alcohol license application that was filed by the new owners says the business name is “Black Cat.” So, what do the new owners have in mind?
Wes Joe, a Silver Lake resident who worked on the Black Cat historic monument application, said the new owners told him they were looking into the rights to use the Black Cat name. He said there was also a discussion about retaining what is presumed to be the original stand up bar over which two Black Cat bartenders were violently dragged over by LAPD officers, Joe said. Keeping that bar would help “tell the story” of the bar and the era, he said.
But it’s not clear what name or theme the new bar owners have settled on. The Eastsider has contacted the owners for comment.
“Hopefully the new “Black Cat” will honor the unique history of the space and provide a way to get in touch with it,” Joe said.