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L.A.’s Most Beloved Blackfamous Hot Spots Over the Decades


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4225 S. Central Ave.

Built in 1928, the hotel quickly became the hub of Black culture throughout the 1930s and ’40s. As one of the only hotels open to Black guests in the segregated city, it hosted jazz greats including Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Fletcher Henderson at its Club Alabam. “It was the most celebrated Black club in the history of Central Avenue,” says actor Wren T. Brown (father of THR writer Evan Nicole Brown), whose four grandparents were performers at the club. In 1975, the hotel became the primary setting for Rudy Ray Moore’s blaxploitation classic Dolemite.


5553 W. Pico Blvd.

After 20 years serving as private chef to stars including Loretta Young, Maurice Prince opened her own restaurant to showcase what she called her “American home cooking” in 1960. “It was a simple eatery, but you could go in and see the biggest white stars and Black stars: Richard Pryor, Cary Grant, Jennifer Holliday,” says Brown, who spoke at Prince’s funeral when she died in 2018 at age 101.


4225 Crenshaw Blvd.

“We called it the Black version of Whisky a Go Go,” says author Steven Ivory, noting the venue’s slate of A-list Black musicians and comedians. (When it opened its doors in 1966, The Temptations were the opening act.) “The thing that was cool about Maverick’s was it was in the ‘hood, in South Central, so it was solely ours,” adds actor Glynn Turman.


7341 Willoughby Ave.

The recreational area “was the absolute center for Black Hollywood, from stars to middle-class actors to specialty acts,” says Brown. Turman recalls being soundly trounced on the tennis court by a trash-talking Sidney Poitier. “He whipped myself and Art Evans at the same time and rubbed it in.” (Still in operation.)


333 N. La Cienega Blvd.

“You never know who you’d stumble over in the basement sitting on a beanbag chair,” says Turman. “With the disco lights flashing, all of a sudden you’d look and you’d be dancing next to Pam Grier or Fred Williamson or Jim Brown.” In the 1970s, Climax changed owners and became Osko’s, which served as the backdrop to the 1978 disco film Thank God It’s Friday, starring Donna Summer.


4345 Crenshaw Blvd.

“It was the premier club in the ’70s where you could listen to all the big Black acts: Teddy Pendergrass, Billy Paul, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Archie Bell & the Drells. The Gap Band used to play there because their manager, Lonnie Simmons [also founder of Total Experience Records], owned the place,” remembers Ivory. The club burned down in January 2021.


4067 W. Pico Blvd.

Opened in 1973 by Jewel Thais Williams, the club was the longest-running Black gay dance bar in Los Angeles. “It was the first place where everybody who was whatever they felt they wanted to be could go and have a good time and not be ostracized,” says actress Beverly Todd. (Still in operation as Catch One.)


6215 Santa Monica Blvd.

Owned by a group of Black businessmen and deejayed by Louil Silas Jr. — who would become a record exec at MCA and produce for Bobby Brown, Babyface and Patti LaBelle — Paradise 24 was “the Holy Grail of Black nightclubs in the late ’70s and ’80s,” says Ivory.


7181 Sunset Blvd.

“[Owner] Wally Amos was a wonderful presence in Black Hollywood,” Brown says of William Morris’ first Black agent turned dessert entrepreneur, who opened the shop in 1975. “You would go into the store and invariably find three or four very notable people — Berry Gordy, Sidney Poitier, Billy Dee Williams — in there along with the regular customers.”

DISCO 9000

9000 Sunset Blvd.

Opened during the mid-1970s at the top of the 9000 building on Sunset, where a number of entertainment companies had offices, Disco 9000 was the Black counterpart to the neighboring Rainbow Club. “You had members of Led Zeppelin hanging out at the Rainbow and across the street you had Bobby Womack and any number of blaxploitation actors,” says Ivory. Adds Todd, “It was one of those check-you-out places.”


6835 La Tijera Blvd.

The 40-year-old Southern food supper club ran into difficulties during the pandemic but was recently renovated. Tina Knowles-Lawson celebrated her 65th birthday there in 2019 along with daughter Beyoncé and Jay-Z; Turman, who attended the bash, says, “It’s one of my favorite spots to this day as a result of how it keeps it real.” (Still in operation.)


6525 Sunset Blvd.

“Black Hollywood used to commandeer the Hollywood Athletic Club on the nights where [actor] Reggie Dorsey hosted,” Brown says. Turman remembers shooting pool there and checking out emerging artists. “The Tupacs and the new cats on the block would come through,” he says. (Still in operation.)


7250 Melrose Ave.

With Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Norm Nixon and Connie Stevens among the soul food spot’s investors, this restaurant — which opened in 1993 and closed in 2000 — was where “you’d see big-time white folk [e.g., Julia Roberts] sitting right along there with Dr. Dre and Suge Knight of Death Row Records and Snoop Dogg,” says Ivory. Adds Turman, “You had to know somebody to get into Georgia.”

This story first appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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