Saturday, March 21, 2009

realbyte: An Evening at Chez Jay

As a resident on the 'right' side of town (the East side of LA -- not to be confused with East L.A.), I often (jokingly) slander the West side.  This weekend our friends showed us such a true gem that I'm almost ready to eat my words.  Almost.  But not quite.  After a wholly satisfying, well-priced meal of good Cal-Italian fare and a free slice of killer lemon cake at Fritto Misto, we headed to Chez Jay.

Walking in to Chez Jay's is like going back in time, as is the case with any good dive bar worth its salt, or in this case, peanuts.  The walls are plastered with memorabilia from owner Jay Fiondella's adventures as a treasure hunter, actor, competitive hot air balloonist, participant on an archeological dig in the Arabian desert, and, oh yeah,  a pirate ship owner.  There's tons of lore about all the celebrities who have passed through the joint as well - Marlon Brando, Henry Kissinger, Leonard Nimoy (Jay's old roommate), the entire cast of NYPD Blue...

Still today, peanut shells litter the floor.  Beer flows.  Sinatra croons on the juke box.  The booths are perfect for spending hours shooting the sh*t with friends. It's just unpretentious and chill.  Not necessarily the easiest thing to find anywhere in LA.

Unfortunately, Jay died late last year and Rand seems to have leveled all the land around it. Being a visitor to those parts, I'm not sure what lies in the peanut shells for Jay's.  I'm just glad we got a chance to visit before it becomes condos, a mall, or a TGIF.

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