Jonny Valenti and Steen of ACME PartnersWhat may seem like a recent partnership resulting in some of the most pleasurable bars in the new downtown is really over 20 years in the making.
Bar investors Michael Leko, Will Shamlian, Jon Valenti and Steen Bojsen-Moller, work together well. Their joint venture, the Acme Partners, (road runner?) begins with a simple generic and easily recognizable name, followed by a great partnership that can only be forged by time, trust, professionalism and great business ethics.
“In a business that revolves around alcohol, it’s important to be all business first. You can run any business the same way no matter what you’re offering…the same teachings apply …it’s just the products that are different.” Says Valenti.
Today Acme Partners owns five prominent locations, three up and running and two more under construction.
For downtowners it all started with the Library Bar, Michael Leko’s downtown settlement on 6th and Hope.
But for Michael Leko it started over 20 years ago working as a bartender and waiting tables at the infamous Brentwood based Mezzaluna alongside co-workers Jon Valenti, Will Shamlian and the ill fated Ronald Goldman (of O.J. Simpson Fame).
Eventually they all separated simultaneously to pursue other ventures, Valenti becoming a substitute teacher and tv and film story editor, moonlighting as a bar manager, working 8 years at Falcon in Hollywood went on to help establish the Falls with Michelle Marini, while Mike and Will decided to go into bar ownership.
Jonny reconnected with Mike after several years, who wanted him to work at Library Bar, doing so he increased sales simply by developing relationships with downtown business men.
No stranger to the bar scene Steen opening his first bar in New Zealand at the age of 25. Settling in the states after leaving New Zealand, followed by a short stint sailing in the Caribbean, surfing in Costa Rica, managing a high end restaurant in London, throwing events in a famed art gallery in San Francisco, the international Steen, finally moved to Los Angeles, when a friend invited him to manage his place in Hollywood 5 or 6 years ago. Reluctant at first, Steen took to Los Angeles, deciding to live in Downtown only to become one of its finest pioneers.
You can find Steen at the Spring Street Bar serving up an array of domestic beers and great food. “It’s the balance, all of our locations have alcohol and food, says Steen, pointing out the food and beverage combination may just be one of the secrets to the bar’s success.
“They don’t have to go anywhere else to get something to eat; they can sit there and have a couple of more beers.”
Another secret to their success…staying humble. The bars owned by ACME are all very locally driven with very loyal followers, some traveling from bar to bar just to spend time with their favorite bar owners. The four are masters of building relationships, Steen says is “a cohesive sort of movement with the locals and all the new people, who are still coming because they know Jonny and I, and they know were gonna be here.”
We’re very humble, we’re not ego driven…we believe it’s a marathon and not a sprint. It takes a bit of time to develop relationships with clientele. Everyone has an idea about what they think you should do, but collectively and instinctively we go with what we think is going to work.” Says Steen.
BREAKING NEWS: Beelman’s Pub COMING SOON!
Acme is very excited about their newest venture, Beelman’s Pub, taking the place of Coffee Bar, located at 6th and Spring. The group is very excited about this new project, named after the famed architect of the building, Claude Beelman.
Downtowners anxiously await the new venue paying homage to Beelman who created the Eastern Columbia Building, the Standard Oil Building and many others. The new venue will offer an outside patio with garden…breaking ground any day, hopefully to have something for you by the end of the summer.
Sixth Street Tavern.
“We seldom have grand openings” says Steen…This was true with the Sixth Street Tavern that opened less than a month ago across from the Standard Hotel on 6th and Hope. The partners agree that withholding a grand gala is good for allowing the staff to get up to speed. In the days that followed the staff would have become very comfortable and know the product very well.
SIX STREET TAVERN
With Sixth Street Tavern, ACME is also bringing in hard alcohol. As a larger version of the popular Spring Street Bar, this location across from the Standard and directly adjacent to the Library Bar, is ideal for bar hopping and making something that’s “simple again”. Great beer.
While Spring Street Bar serves an array of domestics to mostly locals, the Sixth Street Tavern offers great domestic beers and great quality international varieties to the financial district, including a full line of hard liquor varieties like Japanese whiskey.
THE KING EDDY
Thanks to the Acme Partners, one of the last downtown “hole in the wall” bars and arguably the best testament to downtown’s vintage bar history, King Eddy on 5th and Los Angles is “going through changes”. Already added, a mild facelift soon to be joined by a cool neon sign and a redesigned speakeasy offered by famed downtown architect and bar builder extraordinaire, Ricki Klien.
Ricki Klien will be refurbishing the basement, once used during prohibition as a speakeasy, and will be calling it that. The sublevel space still boast hand painted murals of antiquity and cemented entry ways to liquor running tunnels that lead to labyrinths under the City. Found already in the basement, old wine cellars, refrigeration systems, old furnishings, and an old hotel sign, “renting rooms for $2.50 a night.”
Jonny realizes the significance of these artifacts stating, “The more we can use the better. The biggest thing is the place and the history that was there. Old radios, lighten, cleaning, still scars and that’s all part of it. People really respond to it. Soon well offer live music and a walk back in time. A place you can spend the entire evening.”
“And for food we are taking over the storefront adjacent the bar to offer a taqueria. The restaurant will also serve as the origin for King Eddy’s food services and catering needs designated for the soon to be restored basement. When asked what else the space will be used for, anyone who is looking for an unusual experience… Steen laughs, “yeah, like speakeasy weddings” then adds. “Really great fun, I think you guys will dig it.”
Soon ACME feels downtown will “develop organically into a place with a different flavor from block to block” says Valenti. Small mom and pop shops in a neighborhood encouraging community and outdoor dining. The history of downtown will be sought out. “There is a lot here. And its time it’s given credit. “