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NIGHT MOVES : Telly's Hideout : Among its various pluses, an out-of-the-way bar opened by actor Savalas provides the essentials for serious sports fans.

August 21, 1992|DAVID WHARTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Telly's Sporting Bar couldn't have found a better hiding place. Located in the Sheraton Universal--maybe the last place you'd think of going to watch a Dodgers game--it's stashed downstairs at the very back of the building.

Even worse, the Sheraton doesn't want Telly's to lure customers away from its hotel lunch spot. So, on summer weekends during baseball season, the sports bar doesn't open until late afternoon, after most of the games are over.

But all these minuses add up to a big plus: Telly's is clean, reasonably priced and often uncrowded.

"It's small enough that there's a camaraderie among the people who come here," said Telly Savalas--the bare-domed actor of "Kojak" and "The Dirty Dozen" fame--who opened the place three years ago. "During the football season and basketball season, it's a real raucous joint."

And Telly's provides the three essentials for serious fans: television, beer and fried foods.

Eight television sets and two big-screens offer plenty of viewing opportunities, though there are still a few blind spots around the room. A dose of July remodeling should fill that void, adding five more sets and a second satellite, so Telly's can show a half-dozen games at a time (the bar will open in the mornings, with a breakfast special, when football season rolls around).

The beer selection isn't fancy, nor should it be: The third quarter of a Steelers-Browns game is no time to be sipping a European ale. Telly's covers the bases with a solid domestic selection and a few Canadian and Mexican brands thrown in.

As for food, the lineup includes $6.50 burgers and a $7 taco plate. Crispy fries and chicken fingers, when dipped in blue-cheese dressing, make an especially tasty combination for around $7.

All of this comes packaged in decidedly jock decor. Team posters cover the walls and the tables look like sections of a gym floor. Hanging from the ceiling are the autographed jerseys of such luminaries as Willie Mays and Johnny Bench. Pool tables, air hockey and table soccer provide diversion during those anxious moments at halftime or between games.

There is also a scattering of oddball mementos to peruse. One of the late "Pistol" Pete Maravich's basketball socks is encased as if it were in a museum, just above a scuba mask purportedly used in the 1950s television series "Sea Hunt." Plenty of photographs of the owner hang from the walls: Telly playing golf, Telly shooting pool, Telly knocking some guy down in a karate match. In the corner, a life-sized cardboard Telly coos, "Remember who loves ya, Baby?"

It's hard to say who loves this place--the crowd is every bit as irregular as the location. On a Sunday afternoon not so long ago, it was less than half full as 30 or so local residents drifted in to watch Chicago beat Portland in the final game of the NBA championships. Some nights, says manager Neil Cronin, a banquet will let out and a herd of businessmen will file in. On Fridays, he's likely to get a happy-hour crowd that walks up the hill from nearby office buildings. "The ultimate alternative," he calls his bar.

So why don't they move Telly's to a more visible location? The answer: Savalas lives in the hotel.

"The room that was there before wasn't doing so good," he explained. "So I said, 'Why the hell don't we call it Telly's?' I like to go down there and watch the games."

Where and When

Location: Telly's Sporting Bar, 333 Universal Parkway, Universal City.

Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday through Sunday. Full bar. Two hours free validated parking.

Price: All major cards accepted.

Call: (818) 980-1212.

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