New Echo Park bar and cafe coming to Glendale Boulevard [updated]

Semi Tropic

Storefront ReportECHO PARKExposed brick and dark wood dominate the interior of The Semi-Tropic, a new bar and cafe taking shape on Glendale Boulevard, a strip lined with  fast-food restaurants (a KFC is right next door) but no place to sip a craft beer or order an organic bean salad.

Sunset Boulevard is where most of Echo Park’s independent bars and restaurants are located. But Semi-Tropic is seeking to capture and shift some of that scene to Glendale Boulevard.

“We think our stretch of Glendale could stand to have more life on it and some nicer places with more character,” said Daniel W. Finley, who co-owns the Semi-Tropic with  Eren Magri.  “The Semi-Tropic has a strong music focus, and we think that is really compatible with being located nearby to the Echoplex, Origami and Mono Records, Bedrock, etc.”

Finley and Magri  had worked as  lawyers and bartenders before deciding to open Semi-Tropic,  named after The Semi-Tropic Spiritualists Association, which was once active in the hills of Echo Park and Elysian Heights. “We’ve tried to incorporate some references to the Spiritualists in our design, where we went for a ‘forest seance vibe,'” he said.

The approximately 2,100-square-foot space with seating for 72 people will lead a double life, serving as a cafe by day with coffee drinks, pastries, sandwiches and salads and a “neighborhood beer and wine bar” at night that serves locally brewed beer, according to an application filed with the city.

Semi-Tropic may open as soon as Friday if health inspectors give their final approval, Finley said. The beer-and-wine license is still pending but the Finley and Magri will go ahead and open the cafe for breakfast and lunch.

Neighbors raised concerns about noise and the lack of off-street parking for Semi-Tropic. The owners had arranged for validated, off-street parking at the Citibank building but that won’t be offered until the beer and wine license is issued, Finely said

This story has been updated with responses from Finley and Magri

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  1. Sounds great, I’ve always though there should be more places like this – cafe by day, bar by night.

    • Ha The Semi-Tropical Spiritualists’ Track was decimated to build crappy condos and now the yuppies that have moved in have a place where they can go to pretend to be cool.

  2. Looking forward to this. Happy to finally see some activity at that location after month after month with nothing happening. I would guess they had permit issues.

  3. Great to have a new non chain place to hang out.

  4. Another business made for hipsters by hipsters.

  5. This is something that Button Mash totally messed up – being open during daytime hours to serve a neighborhood base clientele. How they’re not open at a time when kids have the option of hanging out at an arcade that’s now in their neighborhood after school blows my mind. Either they lack perspective, or are just plain lazy. Also their decor lacks taste… but not their food! I tried some tofu meatballs (?) and buffalo wings. Starry Kitchen real good.

    Sorry to rant about some other place but reading about this got me thinking about how much Button Mash’s business model bothers me. I look forward to trying Semi-Tropic, especially for lunch.

    I look forward trying out Semi-Tropic

    • You are lazy if you didn’t mention this to the very friendly and approachable management.

      • Like they don’t know. I’m sure at some point someone over there asked, “Hey should we give kids a safe fun place to hang out after school?”

        If they didn’t then they’re dense and really don’t care about the neighborhood. Not my place to tell someone what to do with their business anyway. I went over the third night it was open… good try but nah. It was like a designer ate up several different concepts and regurgitated it all over the place.

        You are right though the staff was very nice. I admit I’ll probly hit it up again. Starry Kitchen real good.

        • This place lives or dies by alcohol sales. I would bet the income from the games barely covers their maintenance costs, its a draw for the restaurant/bar.

          Those new pinball machines cost $8-10K a piece. No way in hell I’d let high school kids loose on those if it were my place.

          The last thing in the world you want is kids in there spending a few bucks at most and putting major wear and tear on your vintage games (plus tagging them up).

    • Eh, I agree with your point of view, but running a kitchen is expensive. Having the place be open from 2PM-5PM with the key profit being quarters from kids coming from school doesn’t really seem sustainable.

    • Also I supposed taste is subjective but I like what they did with the place. Let’s not forget it was a shoe store. I thought everything from the art on the walls to the exterior paint job to the vintage gaming posters in the bathroom to the crazy wallpaper out back was really cool. The furniture is great, too.

      • I think you hit it on the head in terms of expenses they’d probably rather cut out. Opening at 5 means they only pay for one shift of employees. What I imagined was the restaurant area being cordoned off with just the arcade games available to a younger audience during the day. Sure you gotta pay someone to be there but thems the breaks. You open a business, do business. But also try giving a little to a neighborhood that’s in the midst of transition. Some would say you’re apart of the problem otherwise.

        I liked the exterior paint job up to the point I got to the front door. Why have a heavy blackout club door when the rest of the place is literally all windows? There are some aspects I like but it doesn’t strike a balance, Not in the decor or the arcade/bar/restaurant business model.

    • I think the plan is that Button Mash will be open during the day at least on weekends but that since they just opened they need some time to get the place working okay before opening up the hours. Most restaurants are only open for like eight hours a day. I think it is pretty reasonable for them to take some time before they open up for 14 hours a day to make sure that everything is running smoothly.

      • Meh, I’m not convinced. I understand how a restaurant operates but really can’t imagine it taking much cake to run the arcade side of things (beyond initial game acquisition and maintenance). Again, not saying run the restaurant during these hours. You have the opportunity to provide a safe place in the neighborhood for kids to hang and blow some of their allowance. A positive impact. Why not be that in addition to whatever else you’re trying to be?

        • I’d say bring it up with owner jordan. he’s a nice dude, around there a lot, i’m sure he’d be happy to explain his reasoning or future plans.

          • AJ is correct. Space Dandy is not. I asked Jordan about this, and he said they’re planning to start opening earlier.

        • “I understand how a restaurant operates…” *tips fedora*

          • As most anyone who has worked in a restaurant would. Good reddit style addition to the conversation. You’re probably the worst kind of gentrifier.

            I’m sure the owner will switch things up and it’ll get better. Maybe he’ll end up doing what my whole point was trying to get across. I was just disappointed to not see that intention within their opening.

          • “I flew SouthWest a few times, now listen to me lecture on aeronautical engineering.”

  6. “but no place to sip a craft beer or order an organic bean salad.”
    Oh how I know all your prayers have been answered… good grief.

  7. This is the second business to pay homage to a concept most likely opposite to the one they are pursuing….
    Red Hill being the other. Are they joking, or are they hipstericrites?! Yes, thats my term!! (R)

  8. Glendale needs a change. What a colossal mess of ugly chain stores. Hardly any local flavor at all. Just garbage food to fatten up the local community and get them hooked on crap. At least this is a step in the right direction. I know there are a few exceptions, but in general it’s just new ugly apt’s and chain trash.

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