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CLUB SCENE

Booming Noon and Night

March 31, 1995|TOBY OLIVER

Just north of Universal City on Lankershim Boulevard is a club for the lunchtime business crowd and the nocturnal, music-loving partyers. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but the music and food at Universal Bar & Grill have earned it packed nights and a steady stream of noontime patrons.

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THE SCENE: This is a small, dark club with an elevated dining area to the right of the front door and tables to the left, in front of the stage, for additional seating. Ceiling-to-floor windows behind the stage open the place up and provide a scenic backdrop for the bands. There's a bar that extends from the far end of the stage to the back of the club and a room in back with a pool table and dartboard for people who want to get away from the music and crowds up front.

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THE CROWD: A suit-and-tie crowd from nearby Universal Studios and MCA controls the place during lunchtime, according to owner Eva Laczko. The night-time crowd is younger, rowdier, more casually dressed and has usually taken care of dinner before coming to the bar. They are there for music, drink and a couple games of pool.

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THE MUSIC: Music is what packs them in at night at Universal Bar & Grill. There are blues, R & B, alternative music and rock 'n' roll nightly with come-all jam sessions on Sundays and Mondays.

On a recent Friday night, the band Texas Flood performed a tribute to blues great Stevie Ray Vaughan. Lead guitarist and vocalist Cory Stevens had the look of Vaughan and got the crowd going in a not-quite-Stevie performance. At one point, in mid-song, he walked out of the front door and strutted along Lankershim Boulevard--all the while playing guitar.

"I came here specifically to see this band," said Lisa DeMonte of North Hollywood. "They're great. I show up wherever they play."

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THE GOOD: Whether it's food or music you seek, Universal Bar & Grill has a wide range of both. The crowd is friendly and the music is easy to listen to.

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THE BAD: There is a cover charge every night, usually $5 or less. Capacity is more than 100, but it seems crowded with 50 to 60 people. The layout limits the number of people who can view bands, but, according to Laczko, a patio is being added to accommodate larger crowds.

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THE WORD: "It's not a typical Hollywood bar," said doorman Scott Cortese. "I'd come here instead of going to some disco biscuit hall."

Universal Bar & Grill, 4093 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, happy hour 4 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday. Cover charge varies. Information (818) 766-2114.

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