Friendly, cozy and safe: Inside LA’s Black-owned bars

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With a lot of LA’s bars closed for the last seven months, if people are having evening cocktails, they’re probably doing it at home.

In March, just before the coronavirus shutdown, Eater LA’s Mona Holmes was putting together a story about reviving South LA’s history as a center of Black-owned commerce — one bar at a time. 

At a bar called The Living Room, there was a meetup called The Black Hour, where conversations flowed like whiskey and bourbon. People tried to find a way to hold onto their neighborhood, identity and community. 

“There’s something to be said about being able to sit down at a bar where the bartenders are extraordinarily friendly, where some of the patrons, if I haven’t been back in a while, they’ll actually tap me on the shoulder and sound exactly as one of my aunties and say, ‘Where have you been?’ There’s a welcoming kind of vibe that I’ve never really experienced,” says Holmes. 

Pre-pandemic, she says she would favor bars like The Living Room or The Cork because they felt very cozy and safe.

She says now it’s particularly hard for bars to survive now because COVID-19 has affected Blacks and Latinos more than other groups.