Like Drinking Cocktails at Home, in L.A.
Reza Fahim designed Tenants of the Trees, a nightclub in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, for the new generation of Hollywood stars that relishes privacy: It’s surrounded by 14-foot high concrete walls. Within the cramped, labyrinthine corridors of Tenants, on the smallest dance floor in Los Angeles, Frank Ocean swayed incognito on the night his long-anticipated second album, “Blonde,” dropped last August. And on a recent Thursday night, the burgeoning London rockers the Big Moon claimed a cabaret stage to play a secret concert to close their first North American tour; unbeknown to them, the band served as an opening act for an impromptu two-hour set by Dave Chappelle.
At Tenants, Fahim plays master of ceremonies in the style of his father, Fazlollah, a former social secretary to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last shah of Iran. (Fazlollah’s responsibilities once included entertaining the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the night his impromptu visit was snubbed by the nation’s ruler.) Biding their time to flee the country, his parents refused to accept the rising tumult outside their windows. In the aftermath of the Islamic revolution, Fahim’s father devoted three years to moving his family safely to the United States.
Fahim settled in L.A., finding a home there — and a community. And when his closest friends began staying in more often than going out, Fahim decided to create a cozy (and quirky) place to drink in East Hollywood that feels more like a home than a bar. Girl at the White Horse, which opens later this month, has one central bar and a series of intimate nooks — what Fahim describes as “private moments waiting to be lived.” The décor is comfortable, too, with estate-sale furniture inside, and a hedge-lined, tiled courtyard out. “I want patrons to discover something new around each bend,” says Fahim, who demolished and built out the interior four times before he was finished.
Before Fahim acquired the building in 2014, the White Horse Cocktail Lounge was the resident dive bar at the Super 8 Motel on N Western Avenue, a dingy living room for students at the American Film Institute Conservatory up the road. With Girl at the White House, Fahim honors the notion that less is more: Bartenders will keep spirits simple, pouring straight, or with a sweet or sour mixer. And inside a second-story private room furnished with his personal possessions, Fahim intends to honor the spirit of the former White Horse owner Victoria Lalea, and her down-home demeanor: He will personally stir drinks, play vinyl and moderate a monthly book club.
1532 N. Western Avenue, Los Angeles, girlatthewhitehorse.com.