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NIGHT LIFE

'Less is more' at the Beverly

Guy Starkman and Darren Dzienciol's popular new West Hollywood haunt is open just two nights a week.

June 17, 2011|By Charlie Amter, Special to the Los Angeles Times

While many nightclubs in Los Angeles struggle to entice well-off patrons to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars on bottle service during a night out, newly opened nightspot the Beverly seems to have the opposite problem: There aren't enough tables or nights open to meet demand.

"We don't have down nights," owner Guy Starkman said last week inside his hot new 250-capacity West Hollywood haunt, most recently known as Guys & Dolls.

That's because the Beverly is open only Thursdays and Saturdays.

"We've figured out less is more," explained Starkman. He and his partner Darren Dzienciol have had the same experience with their other still-buzzy club, Trousdale, which pulls in the "models & bottles" set weekly, even though it's more than a year old now and open only three nights a week.

"We pick a few good nights and try and make sure the bar stays exclusive and hip," said Starkman, interviewed along with Dzienciol at the club.

The formula has worked for Starkman and his team, which includes L.A. nightlife impresario Brent Bolthouse. With the kind of demand they've experienced, they could easily open four nights a week at either venue.

"The Beverly is the perfect bottle service kind of place," said Bolthouse. "It's got a great party atmosphere, and we're coming up with a third night that will be not so focused on bottle service." He added that a proposed third night is aimed at attracting more artistic types, who he says haven't been frequenting clubs west of La Cienega.

"The Silver Lake crowd just won't go to anyplace with bottle service," Bolthouse said. "Ten years ago all those crowds mixed in a room …they weren't quite as divided."

No one else seemed to notice the lack of artists or meaningful conversations last week at the bar — sexy singles were too busy flirting, ordering $14 drinks at the bar or dancing atop booths as a DJ deftly dropped everything from Swedish producer Adrian Lux's "Teenage Crime" to a remix of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream."

Regardless of different outlooks on the still emerging scene at the Beverly, they've managed to do well without promoters. On one recent evening, they had actors Jamie Foxx, Chris Evans and Topher Grace in the house at once.

But bold-faced names sipping Champagne is hardly a new phenomenon at the 4,500-foot space; 8713 Beverly Blvd. has been a well-known boite for years. It was known simply as Guy's from 1995 to 2008, then Guys & Dolls in 2009 and 2010. The location, says Starkman, is just a natural.

"No disrespect to Hollywood, but as busy as it gets over there, there's a strong contingency of people that want to go out over here," he notes.

Since opening in May, neighbors in West Hollywood have kept a watchful eye on the location; Guys & Dolls closed last year a few months after a fatal shooting took place in front of the bar and brought a large amount of news coverage to the area. The club was then managed by others "outside the family," according to Starkman.

"They ran into a lot of unfortunate circumstances," he said of the old club. "I didn't trust anyone else to run the space after a guy got shot." He noted that the building, which he owns, has been in his family for over a decade — he sold it briefly when it was Guys & Dolls but has now bought it back. He also owns the adjacent Jerry's Famous Deli, which he will rename and rebrand this year. Starkman adds that his take on a DJ-driven lounge is decidedly different than past co-owner Michael Sutton's (who used outside promoters at Guys & Dolls).

The first order of business for Starkman was a major remodel by John Sofio of Built Inc. The Beverly now glows in soft amber hues in contrast to the darker, more "club" feel of Guys & Dolls. Reclaimed wood on the curved ceiling gives the bar a semi-industrial farmhouse feel, with suspended steam pipes made in Cleveland. But none of it is too hard-edged.

"Anything that had too much of an industrial feel we felt wouldn't promote dancing," said Dzienciol, who was instrumental in developing the concept for the Beverly and determining its look and feel.

Black leather straps dangle like a dare above brown leather bottle service booths — aimed at coaxing female guests to shuck their inhibitions — but the hardware has been painted playful gold for a less-intimidating vibe.

To be sure, not everyone at the Beverly is dancing atop tables or enjoying a private mixology show from "Top Chef" veteran Marcel Vigneron, who creates liquid nitrogen cocktails for guests at tables.

Most at the bar simply drop by to take in the scene. Laguna Beach's Taylor Pierce, for one, was impressed.

"I love the overall ambience and the wood ceiling," the 21-year-old said.

"Unlike other clubs," he continued, "right when you walk in everyone is socializing and the whole experience is extremely inviting."

calendar@latimes.com

The Beverly

Where: 8713 Beverly Blvd.

When: Thursday and Saturday, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.

Price: No cover (get there early)

Info: (310) 855-0202; http://www.thebeverlylounge.com

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