Byline: Kim-Van Dang
LOS ANGELES — Sean MacPherson and Jon Sidel are no strangers to L.A.’s trendy restaurant scene. Over the last five years, they have introduced Angelenos to Small’s bar, Swinger’s diner, Jones restaurant-bar and the Olive (reopening this summer in a new locale).
Now they’re hoping to parlay those successes into some more good fortune with their newest venture, wishfully named Good Luck Bar. With the guidance of friend Serge Becker — who, along with Eric Goode, converted an old filling station in Manhattan’s East Village into the chic Bowery Bar — MacPherson had a small building just off Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards in Los Feliz gutted and restored. What was a transvestite revue bar now, according to MacPherson, resembles “Chinatown in the Forties.”
Good Luck Bar pays homage to MacPherson’s former home away from home: a Chinatown spot called Yee Mee Loo’s that closed its doors six years ago after a 40-year run in L.A.
“It was my favorite bar of all time, and when it closed I was devastated,” said the 30-year-old restaurateur. “I wanted to recreate that neighborhood-bar feeling, not attract famous people. I’m out to regain the truck driver crowd from Yee Mee Loo’s.”
The bar’s atmosphere may just lure both groups. Red vinyl booths surround the circular bar in the front room, where a vintage jukebox plays 45s by Johnny Mercer, Cab Calloway and Sonny & Cher. The walls, slathered with several coats of red paint, are littered with photos commemorating Sino-American relations. One that MacPherson is especially fond of shows President Nixon shaking hands with Mao Tse-tung.
The back room resembles an opium den — furnished with low-to-the-ground Chinese day beds and ottomans with plush cushions.
MacPherson even went as far as getting Yee Mee Loo’s venerable bartender and installed him at Good Luck Bar. The 60-year-old Chinese gentleman — who prefers to be known only as “Richard” — is best known for a concoction called, of course, “Yee Mee Loo,” a mix of rum, curacao, pineapple and coconut juices, Argent and “top secret” ingredients.
“Yee Mee Loo’s had a special magic,” MacPherson said. “When you went in there, you forgot all your woes. You were transported into another era. That’s what we want this place to be — a jewel box in time.”