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Monday, April 14, 2014

It’s curtains for Silver Lake’s Sunset Junction

Curtain Call at Bar Stella

Cafe Stella owner Gareth Kantner caused quite a fuss earlier this year when he began building  a six-foot high wall in front of a new Silver Lake bar he was opening at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Sanborn Avenue.  The wall, which encloses a small patio, was designed to give his customers privacy and shield them from the traffic noise, headlights and street lights of Sunset Junction. Well,  it turns out that the wall, now painted a dark orange, was not tall enough, which explains why a black curtain now hangs  over the sidewalk in front of the newly opened Bar Stella.

The interior of Bar Stella,  described by the L.A. Times as a “Moroccan-inspired boite,”  may seem picture-perfect, and there is no shortage of customers packing the bar, lounge and patio framed by the inside of the six-foot high orange wall. But the harsh glare from the streetlights directly outside the bar and the yellow-and-red Pollo Loco sign across the street still intruded into the interior of Bar Stella.  While most merchants may not think much about how street lights and glare will affect their customers, Kantner said he does. “I care,” he said at the newly opened bar.

In order to block the harsh light, Kantner had a thick black curtain made and hung between two utility poles. The bottom of the curtain remains about seven feet above the sidewalk and it is closed during the day time.  But,  around 7:3o p.m. on a recent evening, a Bar Stella employee emerges from the bar and stretches the curtain across the width of the patio.

The curtain maybe a temporary feature. Kantner said he has contacted the city about install some shields to block the street lights from shining into his bar. It’s not clear, however, how he’s going to block that Pollo Loco sign.

85 comments

  1. I wear my suuuunglasses at night

  2. “Seinfeld” was such a prescient show.

    • So true, but all the characters were cheeky and lovable compared to kantner.

      • @Truthclaw: I don’t know Mr. Kantner personally, so I can’t speak to that. But, yes–cheekiness and lovability abound on “Seinfeld”!

        • I do, trust me, I’m being very kind and generous…and really biting my tongue.

          • Noted, dear Truthclaw.

            And speaking of “cheeky,” shame on/bravo to The Eastsider L.A. for the headline.

            Misleading? Maybe. A sure shot for double-clicks by the droves? Definitely.

  3. THAT’S RETARDED!

  4. Formerly of Silver Lake

    Patrons can also use the black curtain to hide from their friends, so they won’t know they’re at Bar Stella.

  5. What is the deal w this guy. Doubling down on stupid. Tear down this wall.

    • You got this right. This not only is a VERY repugnant attitude to the neighborhood, but it also is VERY illegal! And he shows a very entitled attitude. That is illegal for him to do — yet he just goes right out and does it on drop of a dime, asks no one. And after his attitude about walling out the neighborhood, I wish the city would prosecute him for this.

      If he wants so much to keep the neighborhood completely away and invisible and completely forgotten, why ever did he come here? He should LEAVE this neighborhood. This guy just steamrolls over and does any goddam thing he wants. Gee, all the other restaurants there can’t wait to get their clientele out on the sidewalk to see the neighborhood; but this guy clearly finds the neighborhood disgusting. Well, he is the disgusting one.

  6. I hate the wall, but its his property and I did not fight his right to add it. But the two utility polls are NOT him property, the curtain in on city property and an eye sore. It needs to be taken down.

    • That was what I was thinking, too. How is it that the city and the utility company are allowing this? Heck, the utility company doesn’t even want posters attached to their poles let alone a vanity curtain.

  7. are you kidding? this has got to be a joke, right? a curtain between two utility poles. ridiculous.

  8. how bright are these lights?!? i’m still laughing at the curtain.

  9. It sounds like the work of a petty dictator, corny little wannabe euro fool.

  10. This is just plain dumb. If it’s such a busy and ugly corner for the owner, why the eff couldn’t he find another spot to open this place?

  11. Well… if nothing else, kudos to Mr. Kantner, who appears to have a knack for “thinking outside of the box.”

    That higher-walled, rusty-bronze-colored box.

  12. This is ridiculous…Did he purchase the bar sight unseen? Did he not know that it was directly on Sunset?!? The noise and lights are what makes the Junction what it is and what it has been for years and years before he moved in…If he doesnt like it, move to a quiet location…

  13. I was wondering about that odd curtain. Thanks for letting us know.
    It’s bloody ludicrous. And I hope some creative industrious types cut it down a.s.a.p.

  14. I hope some creative industrious types don’t tear it down, but rather stage a puppet show on stilts for the bar patrons. Puppets eating Pollo Loco.

  15. Why don’t the Red Hill folks do this to block all that Little Caesar’s blight? If any place needs this, it’s them.

    • Actually this guys seems like a petty dictator so calling this curtain “Little Caeser’s Blight” seems about right.

  16. Big Sausage Lover

    I love all the complainers, buy the place off him if you have the cash and implement your ideas.
    Be quiet, this guy is winning in life and couldn’t give a f**k what a bunch of people that can’t afford to eat at his restaurant think.

    • What?! He is breaking the law — that is very illegal for him to do. You think we should have to BUY it from him just in order to have the law followed?

      You have every bit as much of an entitled attitude as he does!

      You’re right though: he doesn’t give a goddam about the neighbors or neighborhood — not beyond exploiting us and lining his pocket, and greasing the wheels in order to accomplish that.

    • Winning? Seriously? Only in the post-Sheen, I’m an a-hole way.

    • Oh, I can definitely afford to eat there.

  17. His attention to detail is at a genius level. I love Bar Stella. All Gareth needs to do now is build a curtain to keep the pathetic haters who post in the comments section out of his bar.

    Enjoy your cheap,watered down Jack & Cokes at 4100 Bar.

  18. I think the neighborhood should get a big curtin and completely wrap it around his place to box HIM in, don’t ever let him out, keep him at bay as he clearly wants to do to the neighborhood. If he can do anything he wants to the neighborhood — legal or not — I think the neighborhood should do anything it wants to him. If he wants to keep the neighborhood at bay, I think the neighborhood should keep him at bay.

    But a MAJOR problem there is that people hand over lots of their money to him — and that only encourages him. There are lots of other great restaurants there — patronize them, not this bastard. He greases the wheels all around so he can do whatever he wants and get away with it, but that is not the kind of people we need around here.

  19. I wasn’t thrilled about the wall when it went up. I also hate how prohibitively expensive drinks at the new bar are. I have to admit, though, I hate those urine-yellow streetlights. They are completely unflattering. Our infrastructure is embarrassing. Can we start implementing some softer white lighting as well as undergrounding our power lines already? Half of LA looks like a carnival parking lot.

    I could care less about how a bunch of waify Westside tourists with deep pores look under those lights, but could we at least install this curtain in front of Akbar? We have “sidewalk sale” under the same streetlights at the end of the night and it’s killing all of our chances in hooking up with each other.

  20. Hey Cafe Stella:

    Thanks for ugly-fying my neighborhood. I will never be eating or drinking at your establishment ever again.

  21. Two friends of mine tried to eat there the other night and they totally denied them service. The waitress was a complete bitch to them. These guys were dressed nice and clean. My friend was pissed. Sounds like that place is for douche bags.

  22. Does anybody know if it’s legal for somebody to take the curtain down? Is it on public property right? I’m not advocating stealing the curtain, but as a Los Angeles taxpayer (and neighborhood homeowner), I own those utility poles as much as anybody else.

    Would anybody like to join me to taking down the curtain? Respond if you’re interested. Perhaps we can do it Saturday night during business hours.

  23. Seriously…all of you Stella/Self haters.. get a life. It’s a little curtain.
    If you can’t afford the drinks/think they are over priced.. don’t come.
    38 comments about a piece of black material.. you R such a joke!!
    Guess I won’t C U there 2nite.. :)

    • You’ll be the one with a black curtain wrapped around you?

    • it’s insane that you think that only people who can’t afford to eat at stella hate the curtain. the curtain is in the middle of the sidewalk. it’s ridiculous! plain and simple. it has nothing to do with income, hipsters, who’s been in silverlake longer,etc. it has to do with an illegally hung curtain that is a) not on his property. and b) ugly as all get out. did he really not notice the lighting issue BEFORE he built his bar/wall? or, did he just assume the city would do anything he wanted them too once it was built? if they are going to be so ghetto about a solution , they might as well throw up a blue tarp and have a yard sale out front.

  24. the wall is fine. the curtain and their overpriced not so great drinks are not.

  25. Things around here shouldn’t make sense. And while Gareth can be difficult, Stella’s been around since the cheese shop was a Veterinary clinic…and don’t forget, unless I’m wrong, the stella folks are the guys who kept Starbucks out of the spot intelligensia now occupies. Somebody wants a cool french restaurant with an upscale bar…not they got one. You want day-glo sombreros and a six foot picture of Dolly Parton? We got that too. The more the merrier.

    • I would love the 6 foot pictures of Dolly Parton any day! I have been here for 15 years and don’t remember any talk of a Starbucks eyeing the site Intelligensia is. Before Intenlligensia, Gareth had plans for a bar and afterhours club. That was shot down by the City. Before that is was a small neighborhood store.

  26. why doesn’t he just put a piece of cloth over the top of his patio? or a roof?

  27. Gareth is 100% in his rights to build a wall on his own property it just shows a disregard for the neighborhood when clearly its clearly not a well liked solution. But the curtains really highlight his arrogance I mean just the idea that you can put up curtains on public property solely for the betterment of your own business who does that?

    On the other hand to be fair I think Gareth does have his own idiosyncratic sense of community. He’s only rented to smaller businesses even though it would have been easy to rent to star bucks or some other god awful chains. Plus other than the wall he’s had a great aesthetic.

    • guarantee he’s going to rake in a higher rent from an intelligensia than a starbucks.

      business owners who repeatedly thumb their noses at the community will not last long.

      i used to eat at stella before the walling excursion and have decided to not patronize going forward. I also get my coffee from proof baker in atwater, they have better food and the coffee is better too.

  28. You know that this a crazy, crazy thing to be be so upset over, right?

    • I mostly agree with you, Christopher. As someone concerned with the wall during its construction but who has grown accustomed to it in its finished state, I think this next step Kantner’s taken to provide a better experience for his patrons is worthy of discussion, but it isn’t worth getting all bent and uncivil over. So in the interest of keeping an open mind I’m going to hope he put the curtain up as a measure designed primarily to get the city to address the streetlighting issues he has, not to demonstrate disregard for the community.

      • You think the city should provide special street lighting to meet his particular needs and desires?

        • Marc, Not “special” lighting, but relatively simple modifications to the existing lights — similar to “shades I’ve seen installed in residential areas to block beams that shine directly into homes adjacent to them.

      • Will, I think the curtain is a huge overstep on Gareth’s part. Add to that the probable illegality of it and I can understand the “outrage. That wall still sucks, even though you’re used to it now. I don’t understand why anyone so dedicated to the community wouldn’t have come up with better ideas/solutions for his business. THere are so many great bars in LA, Bar Stella is unnecessary.

        • Eastsidarts, it’s because kantner isn’t dedicated to the community, he is dedicated to himself – only.

        • Totally agree that it’s a huge overstep. It isn’t Kantner’s first and probably won’t be his last. Just would rather see that understandable outrage presented a little more proactively instead of reactively — which will never happen, of course… but that won’t stop me from personally putting less venom into the conversation.

      • Here’s a thought. The light was initially put up as a street light. You know, to light the street. For pedestrians and the like, and public safety. It was not put in place to light or un-light or provide ambient lighting to this guy’s restaurant which now encroaches further onto a public walkway, like it or not.

        I’m all for the notion ‘it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission’ in most (private) cases but this just reeks of arrogance which now that I think of it – doesn’t surprise me since Stella boasts more of that quality than it should. This guy. This guy needs to be taken down a notch, not rewarded for his damn the torpedoes approach to getting his way. Ugh.

  29. Well, at least it is fun to read all 47 comments about a curtain preventing you from sleeping!

  30. If the outdoor urban environment is too cluttered and disruptive to the aesthetics of the dining experience within his interior space then why didn’t Mr. Kantner build his restaurant out in the middle of the desert in the first place?

  31. I don’t know what all the complaining is about, I think it is an improvement.

  32. It’s weird that people see that wall and curtain as assaults or attacks on the neighborhood and/or community.

    • Right! Honestly, these people take a sunset petsonally.

      This argument is luducrous: As if Sunset Junction weren’t an overheated, dirty sh:thole. What a joke.

      • Um, because it is. You locate your business in a destination neighborhood and then go to the most extreme lengths to hide every vestige of said neighborhood from your patrons? That’s just weird. There are plenty of business owners who, if they could afford the rent would love to run a cafe fronting on Sunset.

        And yes you’re right – that area is a little scummy and rough around the edges, but then why open a fancy restaurant if that’s something that bothers you and your clientele?

        I live around the corner and think it’s comical more than anything, but at the end of the day it does read as arrogance and absurdity.

  33. Reminds me of the Taliban. How does this restaurant survive?

    • Taliban, really?
      You are comparing someone who puts up a curtain to fundamentalist Muslims that murder and suppress others who disagree? Wow!

      Well, ok I can see your point…

  34. So what. He hung a curtain illegally. It isn’t bothering me, and yes, as a taxpayer those utility poles are partly mine. I’d much rather have some dumb little curtain rather than some of the other things done to ‘my’ property as a tax payer…such as closing Griffith Park Blvd to make a pocket park painted with neon green polka dots, allowing massive development in areas not originally zoned as such (i.e. the Coffee Table property), making it illegal to walk my well-behaved dog in the Silver Lake meadow park, draining Silver Lake or ripping out established trees in its park to run a sewer line, scheduling 5 years of construction on local streets and then not even repaving when they’re done, to name just a few.

  35. I love these kinds of posts because they always bring out the righteous indignation crowd who know what’s best for the world. Aren’t there any real problems in this world to moan pointlessly from your keyboards about?

    • Yeah! I’d like to start with mine, picky!

      My triple-half-caff-lite-whip with one sweet-n-low was cold when I got it!

      Now if that isn’t a real problem…

    • By that logic isn’t it even more of a waste of time to comment on pointless moaning?

  36. It is now the trend in Silverlake for businesses to take over sidewalks and do whatever they want. Where I live on Silverlake Bl it’s becoming more and more difficult to squeeze by as you walk with all the umbrellas, tables, chairs and signs blocking your way. I feel I’m the only one bothered by all this because no one seems to complain. Even Silverlake Liquor has now done it. Does anyone know where I can start a compaint or maybe join an effort to stop all this?

    • Really? Actually people doing stuff on or near sidewalks other than just parking their cars next to it is not just a trend. It’s how people in other cities that haven’t bent over for and been brainwashed by car culture live their lives. For centuries.

  37. I meant “start a complaint”.

  38. OMG PEEPS THANKS FOR THE LAUGHS U ALL ARE TOO MUCH!

  39. Way back when Silver Lake Gulch was a blighted neighborhood and apartments went unrented for months on end, a daring new business opened. It was called Back Door Bakery, and it soon became a neighborhood hit. But as soon as they set a few tables and chairs on the street, a bitter flock of Nimbys swooped down from their hilltop eyrie and filed a complaint with the city, fearful that the notion of people coming to the neighborhood to enjoy a yummy pastry and coffee would hurt their Property Values. Well, we see how that turned out. And in many cities around the world, sidewalk culture is considered a mark of, well, culture.

    Of course, this has nothing to do with erecting a black curtain on public property.

  40. If he wants to hang a curtain, it should be attached to his property.The curtain is illegal and it’s ugly, I hope someone with the city removes soon.

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