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Metropolis / Sosocal

From Holsters To Hipsters: One Bar's Journey

June 17, 2001|MARK EHRMAN

Once a watering hole for off-duty cops, Echo Park's Short Stop bar fell on hard times last year when it was fingered as a spot where LAPD Rampart Division Officer Rafael Perez went to brag about his criminal misdeeds. No sooner had then-owner Mike Balmer put the business up for sale than it was snagged by a cadre of trend-wise investors (including Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli) betting that eastward-migrating scenesters wouldn't be able to resist the edgy frisson of drinking in such scandal-plagued digs.

Indeed, with nary a name change, the barest of face lifts and one missed day of operation, the "new" Short Stop has been packing them in since it changed hands New Year's Eve, with even Westsiders and Valleyites squeezing in on weekend nights. "In the end," says current co-owner Oliver Wilson, "it's not going to feel that much different than the old Short Stop." How do the two stack up? You be the judge.

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Popular libation

Then: Bud

Now: Ketel One martinis

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Served by

Then: Grizzled bar vets

Now: Young hotties

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Jukebox fare

Then: Travis Tritt, Conway Twitty, Top 40 ("no heavy metal, hard rock and [stuff] like that," says Balmer)

Now: '70s soul, Louisiana blues and . . . heavy metal, hard rock, etc.

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Irony-free motto

Then: (per Balmer): "Raise hell but with malice toward nobody."

Now: (per Wilson): "This is a place that is low on attitude; everybody must treat each other with respect."

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Must-carry accessory displayed only by the gauche

Then: Smith & Wesson .38

Now: Motorola StarTAC

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Patrons you've seen on TV

Then: Rampart CRASH unit (off duty)

Now: Denis Leary

(off "The Job")

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Most clueless customer

Then: The guy who attempted a holdup pretending his hair pick was a gun and was riddled with bullets for his trouble.

Now: The occasional retired officer unaware of the new regime.

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