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Site of Venice West Cafe, Beat Generation hangout, designated city landmark

The former Venice West Cafe. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved a new city landmark -- a Venice building that from 1958 to 1966 was a hangout for disciples of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and other Beat Generation pioneers who planted the seeds of L.A.'s counterculture movement.

At the time, the place was known as the Venice West Cafe.

Although the style of the building on Dudley Avenue near Ocean Front Walk is listed as "commercial vernacular" and the designer is unknown, the city Planning Department's Office of Historic Resources said the spot had "social and cultural significance."

The building's uses and tenants have evolved since the cafe closed in 1966. A restaurant called 5 Dudley gave way to Piccolo, an upscale eatery that recently expanded into the adjacent portion that had housed Venice West Cafe.

Alan Leib, a preservationist who helped submit the application, said in January that he envisioned eventually closing off the short stretch of Dudley Avenue as a pedestrian-friendly zone and creating a bohemian district with brick paving and period lampposts. Ideally, he said, he and others would re-create the Venice West Cafe.

-- Martha Groves

Photo: The former Venice West Cafe. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (9)

Hippies living in the past. The 60s is OVER !!

There is nothing to see there that in anyway relates to the sizzle that Alan Lieb sold the City to have this building designated as a city landmark. The actual Venice West Cafe ceased to exist long time before the old POP Pier was razed.

The storefront was seldom used until a couple of decades later when it was openned as a tiny art gallery (very tiny). The store owner gradually turned it into a meeting place for anything that popped into his head that would produce a gathering. These gatherings/parties spilled out of the storefront often across the street. The storefront is less than 30 yards from residential dwellings so the street gatherings were a nuisance, expecially when musical performances were held in the store. The store owner lost his lease at the end of 2008 and passed away before he could get it back. I think that the patrons of that art gallery are the force behind this action -- they want their gathering place back.

Dudley Avenue is a pedestrian thoroughfare to the beach and that short street of roadway that Biel wants to close is the only vehicle access to the hotel across from the building designated as a landmark and to the businesses in that building, too. The businesses will have to block a one way street that runs parallel to the beach, Speedway. Speedway serves as the only way to enter/exit the narrow alleys that serve the blocks of residents between Speedway and Pacific. Biels plan basically makes the residences inaccessible to emergency vehicles and service vehicles of all kinds when vehicles that must serve the hotel and the businesses on Dudley Avenue block Speedway.

The building is too small for the activities of the stores in it, now. Not being able to replace it will prove to be a burden on the owners. In addition, Biel will try to block of the street and will likely have is plan rejected. Then the City is likely to face lawsuits from Biel and his supporters and from the businesses and residents affected.

The City should have done some more investigating before it approved this designation and after hearing Biel's intentions.

Re: Hippies living in the past?"
The 60's are very,very much alive with vibrant communities many excited about the new progresseve change in this country!
And we are well aware of where ,we the people may have gone wrong while raising your generation by convienance and ignoring the straight forward lessons taught by our fathers and teachers.
But there is still hope for this lost generation-Learn to make change at a transaction when the system is down!
And be happy,after all We Did This For You!

eb, it's not a hippie thing. beat generation was before that.

either way, I am quite sure you wear jeans, like peace, eat healthy food, drink grog and probably like rock or jazz...
have ridden a skateboard and speak your mind.

YOU are a hippie. look around you, all you got is the
60's and it is not over; in fact you'd be lucky to have HALF the freedom of that time.

oh and jack kerouac is not a beat guy - he hated the term and it was a vainglorious attempt to clump him in with ginsberg -- so stop labeling kerouac a 'beat' please.

This establishment was for the Beats. They were in existence long before Hippies.

The commenter directly below has correctly pointed out the the "60s is OVER." Precisely. And this is why we need to preserve its more important landmarks. Probably Mr. EB, when he reaches a certain age, will fondly recall cultural moments from his past: A body-piercing studio, perhaps, or a mosh pit.

Well this is bittersweet. Glad landmark status has finally happened but no recognition for Sponto Gallery which has been at that location for over 2 decades? In the early 80's, Mark Kornfeld opened the gallery at 7 Dudley. It served the community and beyond as an art, music, film, poetry and lecture venue... very much in the creative spirit of ... See MoreVenice West which was his intention. It ended with Marks sudden death in Dec. 2009. For hundreds of us, walking by 7 Dudley we know that it's much more than Piccolo or Venice West. Sponto will always live on.
"Venice Beach Says Farewell to Its King"

PLAYWRIGHT LARRY MYERS has written various plays about Beats
"Past Life = Jack Kerouac"
"Jack Kerouac in a Provincetown Dune Shack"
"Memo from Allen Ginsberg" and even 2 plays abt Venice
"meth in venice"
and "car sleepers & tent city folk"
Dr Myers certainly emvbodies this spirit & runs the Jack kerouac literary Group in NYC
Jack was only in Venice once

YOUR commenter about JACK hating the Beats is totally on the mark
he was published as he wrote a beatific novel and giroux saw how thomas merton influenced him

religion only reason book got into print


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