Monday, August 11, 2008

Wanted: A Manhattan in Pomona

Posting will be sporadic here until mid September. I welcome submissions from guest posters during that time. Today's post is a review of two new Pomona businesses, written by previous contributor to the blog: Pride in Garfield Park. Please keep in mind that the Locust Lounge has only done a "soft opening," so let's give them more time to get it right. Here's the mic, Pride:

"Wanted: A Manhattan in Pomona

Thank you to all the Pomona bloggers for providing hometown news and perspectives during my 11 weeks out of town; your efforts are noticed and appreciated. My happy return to Pomona was made all the happier by the welcome sight of new businesses downtown.

With plans to enjoy cocktails before art, Stewmungous and I stopped by the Locust Lounge (205 E. 2nd) during last night’s Art Walk. The open floor plan revealed a mid-size dance floor, a DJ loft, and a mezzanine VIP lounge for party goers. We were there much too early to check out the late-night dance scene, but the sex-determined cover charge – men pay, women don’t – suggests a meat market experience reminiscent of my college days.

Photo taken by Richard E. Nunez.

We pulled up two seats near the window and ordered a Manhattan and a White Russian. While waiting for our drinks to arrive, we flipped through the menu. Although the descriptions sounded appealing enough, the prices seem too high for the area; perhaps the owner didn’t see Chef Gordon Ramsay’s critique of the way-over-priced-and-now-closed Lela’s on 2nd and Main during a November 2007 episode of Kitchen Nightmares. The very kind and engaging server returned a few moments after we placed our order to let us know the supposedly full bar hadn’t yet stocked Kahlua, hence no White Russian; hubby changed his drink order to a Diet Coke. She returned a few minutes later to let me know the bar also lacked sweet vermouth for the Manhattan. At this point we decided to leave our people-watching post and head over to dBa 256 for a glass of wine (and then art, really).

En route to dBa we happened across a flyer announcing the opening of The Brick Nightclub. This message excited me for three reasons. First, I heard about the coming of the club over ten months ago; that’s a lot of waiting, and I’m not a particularly patient person. Second, I peaked inside the space back in May as a work crew entered the door right as I walked by. It already looked stunning; I imagined the finished project would be even more so. Third, I was thirsty.

The Brick Nightclub, located at 340 Thomas Street, was all I had hoped it would be: a beautifully designed space decorated with posh furniture and inviting hues, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and (…must…have…cocktail) a truly fully stocked bar. When I ordered the Manhattan, the bartender asked me if I wanted it perfect, dry, or standard. I didn’t know such variations existed (come to find out, my “usual” is the standard mix of bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters). So, in addition to receiving a fabulous cocktail, I also received a bit of education. All that – and the White Russian – for a very reasonable $9.

Three zones grace the upstairs portion of the club: the bar, a dining/drinking area with typical restaurant tables, and a lounge. The lounge houses a multitude of cozy conversation areas – trendy couches, throw pillows, and mushroom stools for flexible seating. Very chill. The downstairs, made visible from the upstairs by the industrial loft design of the joint, boasts a huge dance floor, more conversation areas, and – get this – a huge fish tank that is home to a small shark.

I’ll be curious to see if food will be served regularly at The Brick Nightclub. Last night they offered hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and hot dogs (all for under $5). Perhaps these offerings were just for the soft opening, or maybe we will be able to look forward to hearty nibbles before hitting the dance floor for months to come. Here again, we were much too early to check out the dance scene. My fingers are crossed they’ll play house and electronica beats, but the 80s remix tunes they played last night suggests I may be left wanting on this front.

Although I’ll definitely give the Locust Lounge a second chance to impress, my strong suspicion is The Brick Nightclub will become my new watering hole. See you there.

(Oh yes, we did make it to a few art galleries…eventually)."

And here is the rest of it.


Anonymous said...

Pride...I agree with you. We also visited The Brick on Saturday night, the place seems to have a decent look...the only downside was the music. They definitely need to stem away from the 80's oldies.


Anonymous said...

Great review. I'm looking forward to hitting both places. I had a similar experience when I visited Hip Kitty in Claremont after it first opened - they had an impressive bar, but at that point were only serving beer.

Pomona Joe

stew said...

This is Stew, part of the Pride that was out on Saturday at the various clubs.

While I agreed with the decision to leave the Locust Lounge on that night. You can't say "full bar" and miss the first three drink orders, especially simple ones. (The first post left out I also wanted a Ginger Ale they didn't have.) I'm also very curious what's Kobe "Style" about their $15.00 hamburger. For $15.00, I want Kobe, not just the stylings.

All that being said, I'm definitely going back. We had already had dinner that night so I wasn't able to take advantage of a very interesting menu. I also remember some very appealing prices as specials. The waitress was very cheery and open to our questions. The shortcomings would be very easily shored up and there seemed to be strong points yet to enjoy. The jury is not in yet on the Locust Lounge until I sample it more.

While my thumb is definitively up for The Brick, I'm glad Mac brought up the music. We were there early for any club scene, but the music was the most cliched "best of" tracks imaginable. I hope the music gets better as the crowds arrive. They also served me a White Russian to keep drinkers happy, heavy on Vodka. When I asked they balance it out with some more Kahlua, they were happy to oblige.

Does anyone know where the comedy club is downtown or have any experience with it? I called them a few months ago to find out what Comedy-oake was, but never see them when I'm downtown. They still around? If so any reviews? What other storefronts are they near?

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Stew, according to the menu on Locust Lounge's website, the Kobe "style" burger is a mere $12 ;) One of the club promotional fliers says there are nightly drink specials. I was there on a Saturday and there weren't any specials. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

I for one loved the Locust Lounge, it's beautiful design, good service, and atmosphere. This blog is known for bitching about every little think. I wouldn't take the Goddess of Pomona seriously. This is a joke. The Goddess has been known to report inaccurate and dafamatory information, and someone should shut it down for good.

Anonymous said...

locust lounge wont last cover charge,then a 15 dollar burger hell I can go by sub-way grab something then the money I have left buy a bottle of booze.must of been the owner who wrote that last one.but for right now its new but in the long run it wont last.

Anonymous said...

There are many new restaurants and watering holes in the area that are being run by first time operators. They really have no concept of food costs vs menu pricing vs spoilage. They come from that "expensive = good and sought after" school of thought. Bottom line is they need to move their food in order for it to always be fresh. Having a menu with expensive items just means :1. you won't sell much of it..and more spoilage becomes an issue, 2: less people will consider eating in your establishment so you make zero on food for those patrons, 3:it will take longer to prepare ordered food because you keep the expensive items frozen 4: your potential customers will just go somewhere else to spend the bulk of their money and maybe visit you for a drink occassionally..maybe. This is NOT how to build a business. These rookie operators need to consider their clientelle and where they chose to locate their businesses. This is not the "west side" so wake up and be realistic. Bars and restaurants have a very short life when they are in inexperienced hands. By the time they get experience they are broke, or sell their place for pennies on the dollar if they are lucky.

stew said...

As for attacking the Goddess based on this post- DON'T. This was a guest post made by Pride. The Goddess doesn't deserve any heat on this one, as it's not her words and the post is accurate. As I stated earlier in the thread, I was there.If the Goddess shows any bias, it's a "Pro-Pomoa" leaning.

I also think any Locust Lounge backers have too thin skin. The post was half positive. I know I want to go back to Locust lounge. How can a review that ultimately say "we'll be back for another try" be taken so negatively?

It also stands to be said I am in my thirties and any people I know personally who post on this blog are my age or older. The Locust Lounge does seem to be targeting a crowd in their young twenties. So maybe we aren't their target audience. Then again, students from Cal Poly and most 21 year olds don't have money to blow on $12 hamburgers.

If any anonymous posters are ownership of the Lounge, they should be grateful for some feedback and ready for our return visit so we can post a follow-up review that can be wholly positive.