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Anyone remember GORKY'S? Memory lane....

  • z

Seeing the post about Hollywood & Cahuenga reminded me of GORKY'S. They had a second location there.
The original was downtown and had a cool bohemian kind of vibe. Food was decent but the place had lots of ambiance. You could hang around for hours.
High backed wooden benches at the booths, poetry readings, cheap caviar, cool T-shirts
ah... back in the day....

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  1. ahhhhh, Gorky's. They never carded my under-21ness. Loved that place, the one downtown that is. The Hollywood one was way too scene-y.

    It was one establishment that was way ahead of it's time. I learned to love stout there. Tasted cabbage rolls for the first time. It really was a place you could spend hours in, anytime of the day or night, since it was open 24hrs.

    Who owned it? Where are they? AND why don't the do it all over again?


    1 Reply
    1. re: Cynthia

      Wow, this place sounds like just what I've been looking for! Too bad it's closed. I second the request for info on anywhere that might be similar.

      Actually, I think I'll start a new thread.

    2. Yes, will never forget the communist Russian red themed Gorky's in downtown. Cool place for a post-midnight pasta or beer

      1. I loved the downtown Gorky's, there's nothing like it, before or since. Great place to go for a good beer, music, and some decent, reasonably priced food.

        Gorky's made an awful part of downtown cool to go to. it was a very sad day for me when it closed.

        1. Heard lots about the downtown Gorky's...where exactly was it located?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pete

            If (my very wobbly) memory serves, it was at 8th & San Julian Sts., near the Flower Market.

            1. re: Pete

              I was there once with my brother and his friends. I think it was very close to the late Vickman's, around 8th Street Flower District.

            2. Never been to the one in Hollywood but the one downtown was a frequent hangout. Great beer, great music, great place to hang out. Not sure if there's a reasonable facsimile around today since I'm too old to be hanging out in bars/clubs on Friday nights!

              1. Ah, memories. I was just thinking about that place the other day! Reliving my younger semi wilder days.
                Gorky's my late hangout when i wanted my date to think I was cool and knew all the hip hangouts.
                I drove all the way from the west San Fernando Valley because it was the only cool hangout that was open late.
                Does anyone out there know what year it opened and closed?

                1. Very cool place to hang... never went there before 10 PM at night. Loved the apple pie and the beer. The crowd was so diverse -- hipsters, post-theatre goers, students, etc.

                  1. I loved Gorky's. Great place. Don't know why they closed down. Maybe the concept was a couple of years ahead of it's time for this area? The one I frequented in Hollywood closed in the early '90's.

                    1. r
                      Rich Gould-Saltman

                      Ah, I remember it well, including the pie, the little spoonful of caviar on the omlets, etc.

                      The original owner-proprietrix (proprietress?), as I recall, invested lots of energy in making it a place for the then-budding industrial area artists (what eventually became the "downtown loft scene") to eat at all hours.

                      Eventually she burned out on it, and as the area "yuppified", sold the place (so the story went) to a West-sider (sort of Faustian...) who yuppified the retaurant, added a micro-brewery, raised prices, expanded, opened the ill-fated Hollywood branch,and eventually just ground it to a halt.

                      Bit the dust close to the time Vickman's also closed, and put a serious damper on my very late/very early dining habits.

                      We'll not see its like again...


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Rich Gould-Saltman

                        When Judy opened Gorky's in the early 80's - probably 1982 or 83, we had an office downtown in an old warehouse on San Julian near Ninth. Used to go down with Devil Chow #l named Fudge and take him for walks around to Gorkys after passing Lalo's Mexican Stand which had been our sole eating place until Gorky's opened (Lalo was very put out that we would alternate days). The Roast Turkey leg was really good, also the Beet cake and the breakfasts. Judy took off at one time and lived six months in Buenos Aires to fulfill the dream of her bf to go and live in S.America and when she came back, I think then decided that she had enough of the restaurant business. When she sold it, it was never the same, she was one of a kind and it was a lot of fun.

                      2. Here's a old link from 1992 telling of Gorky's problems.

                        Link: http://www.findarticles.com/p/article...

                        1. Add me and my wife to those who spent time at Gorky's after a night of, well lots of things. I loved the little cafeteria feel and the fact that they would saute up that pasta right in front of you. It was so hot, and so good, and that beer was so good. It felt so cool and hip to be there (and I use those terms in all the best sense)and be part of it.

                          1. Wow.
                            Talk about taking one back. To a bored, nocturnal suburban high schooler raised on a diet of mall food courts and 24 Hour Carrows, Gorky's -- the OG downtown version -- embodied the ultimate urban adventure: Dark, somewhat foreboding, unfamiliar, hip and bohemian. And, always open. I vividly recall my first excursion with a carload of my South Bay homies, getting propositioned by working ladies while getting lost on 7th St. and San Pedro in search of this urban oasis. And suddenly, amidst the din of a pitch-black downtown that we never knew existed there it stood, with contrasting super-bright welcoming lights and sound. The apple pie, soup, muffins and Dr. Brown's sodas were what we placed on our trays but the main course was always the vibe.

                            We were equally excited to hear about the Hollywood location and were among its first patrons but, that same aforementioned vibe seemed to be lacking in punch and/or non-existent. The microbrew beer vats were a cool if not, pricey gambled addition and, ultimately its downfall. In time an era in LA foodiedom had, like the country that inspired it, ceased to exist.

                            I concur: Gorky's was da bomb. And like the numerous people I met while there, something I miss madly.

                            1. I spent at least one New Years Eve there and had a blast. They had a band, I believe and people danced on the tables. The food was fine, but the atmosphere was fantastic. Also, was the Hollywood location at the old Tic Toc site?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ChowFun

                                It was on Cahuenga a half block N. of Hollywood. There's a Sharkey's(chain mex)there now.

                              2. Great beer, decent food from what I recall, great russian bands sometimes.....
                                Why oh why did it have to go away.......
                                If it opened today it would be able to at least stay in business with all the downtown dwellers that are around now....
                                The Hlywd. location sucked....

                                1. Lots of good vibe in the downtown location...a standard lunch haunt for incredibly good salads and borscht. My favorite band that played there was the Freeway Philharmonic -the woman on the fiddle was incredibly fast-fingered and could raise the roof with her speed-bowing! We'd hit the Hollywood site after burnout at the Crush Bar ...those were definitely good times.

                                  1. that is just too bizarre...I was just thinking of Gorkys yesterday, and today here you are! was such a fun place

                                    1. I was a downtown Gorky's regular (I concur that the Hollywood location sucked - I think I went only once).

                                      I remember seeing homeless folks eating in the downtown location on occasion and thought it was cool that they didn't automatically kick people out based on your appearance. But one time this didn't turn out well for me. I was in line on a weekend morning to get one of their fabulous omlettes (with the aforementioned caviar on top), and saw a homeless guy stuffing his pockets with the little jam & jelly packets they had out in a bowl. I thought, how sad, that's probably going to be a meal for him.

                                      After finishing eating and exiting a while later, however, I saw the same guy hunched over the hood of my car, a cherry '63 convertible Falcon, parked in the lot across the street. When I approached, I saw that he was smearing jelly all over the hood of my car. I freaked out, and yelled "What the 'f" are you doing??!?", at which point, he looked up at me with a sad expression, as if he thought he was doing me a favor by "waxing" my car...

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: jaggy

                                        I just did an interview with Richard Schave about Gorkys two weeks ago. Somehow in going to listen to it, a link brought me here.

                                        I opened Gorkys in 1982 and sold it in 1985 after finding it took over my life. Being involved in a very personal low profit very big restaurant is like that. It becomes your kitchen, living room and for short naps, bedroom (well, that was actually at the People's Muffinry next door). It now is so much a blur but I do wonder where a host of people, wonderful people, that came through my life at the time are now. It was the first post WW2 wave of revitalization Downtown and it brought together a small group of amazing, brave and talented people to the area.

                                        1. re: downtowner519

                                          Gorky's was a high school hang out. Cool as their awesome bowl of borscht...with The Clash playing in the background.

                                          Thank you, Judith, for the memories.