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Kick Back and Relax

Visitors find that Pooch's in Redondo Beach is a good place to get away from the daily grind.

March 23, 2000|TRACY JOHNSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

How do you feel about standing in long lines? Then gaining entree to a club that's standing room only? Being unable to hear your date over blaring music?

Maybe you should check out Pooch's.

This new kid on the waterfront block is winning over South Bayans who just want to kick back on Friday or Saturday night. The location--among the eateries on the north side of Redondo Beach's King Harbor Marina--puts it in the heart of things. But in some ways, Pooch's is a world away.

It's a nice place to spend an evening, something that's becoming harder to find these days. The dockside venue evokes memories of summers spent enjoying the sand and surf. The fireplace in the middle of the bar recalls winters curled up with a glass of brandy and the stereo on low.

"It's magical being out there on that peninsula, away from Pacific Coast Highway," says Chris Rhodes, a guitarist and singer who plays Pooch's on Thursday and Friday nights. "People are up here. . . . They're in a better mood."

Though its brightly lit exterior looks more flashy than cozy, a step inside the two-story establishment (which is owned and operated by the adjacent Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club) shows you can't judge a book by its cover. Windows overlook the yachts and dinghies docked in the marina, so Pooch's resembles a yacht club, only open to everyone.

Inside, Pooch's looks as if it were modeled after an old summer home on Cape Cod or Nantucket. Pale yellow wood-paneled walls with white trim are decorated with old fishing nets and seafaring knickknacks that make you feel like you are on the Atlantic instead of the Pacific.

Sleek wood chairs and copper-top tables decorate the airy bar, where the stage is. The rattan chairs and couches surrounding the fireplace are the optimal spots for viewing the live music. Kick up your feet on the coffee table and warm your toes or let the live rhythm & blues warm your soul.

The great sound in the room is a draw for the soloists and ensembles who have played Pooch's. So is the vibe. "Pooch's is casual, but classy," says Rhodes. "It's a nice place to play."

Rare is the spot where you can hear all the words being sung, dig the background music and still carry on a dinner conversation. Most of the folks into that type of evening aren't the disco-dancing, trip-hop-loving, spandex-wearing set. So if you're over 30 and want to wear jeans on Friday night--someplace besides your own living room--you won't be out of place at Pooch's.

*

BE THERE

Pooch's, 260 Portofino Way, Redondo Beach. (310) 372-1202. All ages. No cover. Full menu. Live music Wednesday through Saturday night, 6-11 p.m.

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