A Photographic Journey Back to the Bar

 A Photographic Journey Back to the Bar

Interview by Harry Walker ✵ Photo by Clemmer / Johnson

Just before midnight on March 16, 2020, bartenders all over Los Angeles announced their last phone call, but I didn’t expect it to be the last phone call that lasted nearly 14 months.

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and the “unnecessary” indoor space closures continued each month, classic diving in the city, the backbone of the bar scene, suddenly faced their own mortality rate.

“Every day we were afraid we couldn’t get it done,” says Sandi Marquiori, owner and operator of God Mothers, the first San Pedro Saloon to open in 1963. .. She wasn’t alone.

Many beloved bars couldn’t survive the closure, but many returned with a win when given the green light to reopen in June.

“My experience back from the pandemic was like a reunion episode on a TV show,” says Club Tee Gee bartender Alex McElvain. “You never knew when to expect it, but then someone came in and it would be like” Oh my god! “. And frankly, the back part of your head is like “You’re still alive!”

We recently visited historic independent bars from Sherman Oaks to South Bay to find out how they lasted longer than shutting down and what it was like to open the door again. This is the bartender they had to say in their own words.


God mothers

Opening year: 1963

Owner / Operator Sandy Marchioli Opens Court

Clemmer / Johnson

Every day I was afraid that it wouldn’t work. I actually did some work: I cooked meals for the disabled…

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