Dave's on Broadway

NOTES FROM A BARTENDER

Until the spring of 2020, the devoted patrons of Glendale’s oldest neighborhood tavern would never have believed its doors could close, even though most LA bars tend to come and go like a summer movie release at the Chinese theater. Now approaching its 90th birthday, Dave’s has managed to stay open through a great depression, five foreign wars, and enough tilt-a-whirl earthquakes to rattle the soul. It would take a pandemic to force the turning of the latch – a latch that, thus far, has never tumbled before.

For the past 20 years, Dave Lumb and Dave Hadley co-owned the aptly named landmark, but as they were both embracing their autumn years, they decided to pass the establishment on to another worthy proprietor. Although interested buyers placed their bids, something always seemed to prohibit the closing of the deal. It was almost as though the spirit of its founder was patiently waiting for that “glass slipper fit.” So when Tricia La Belle showed an interest in acquiring the bar, I knew then and there that the spirit of Dave’s had just made its choice.

I didn’t need a crystal ball to know that Tricia was “the one.” She had acquired Boardner’s in Hollywood from Mr. Hadley as well. Boardner’s, on Cherokee just south of the boulevard, has been a Hollywood staple since it opened during the early days of WWII. I, myself, have been a frequent customer there, having discovered the place during Desert Storm back in ‘91. In those days, Boardner’s was somewhat neglected. It was one of those sawdust – covered dives, bathed in flickering neon – a fading homage to a bygone era that had somehow maintained that lived-in comfortability, like a favorite pair of wellworn jeans. Tricia bought the old tavern in 1998, and within a year it looked like a ’42 Studebaker perfectly restored back to showroom new. Without losing any of the familiarity that its patrons loved about the place, it now had a romantic “noir” atmosphere. Every booth looked like it had been reserved for Bogie and Bacall, and every barstool seemed to fit like a soft leather glove. The whole place felt like something out of a Raymond Chandler novel – and now this makeover magician had her eye on Dave’s.

Dave’s is 10 years older than Boardner’s, having opened its doors in the spring of 1932. It is said that ol’ Dave had predicted the repeal of prohibition, so he set up a soda-shop – to be converted into a cocktail bar on a moment’s notice. Some say he even dug a speak-easy tunnel underneath Broadway that led to the grand ballroom of the Glendale Hotel. I, personally, have never seen this sublevel thoroughfare, although many of my customers claim to know it quite well. But whatever it was – a soda-shop or a tunnel – when prohibition was repealed, Dave’s poured its first legal martini on December 5th of the following year. It’s hard to believe that almost a century has passed since that first cocktail was served at Dave’s On Broadway. I shudder to think of all that has transpired here during that time.

There’s an old sepia toned photograph above the cash register of the original bartenders and their earliest clientele. It was taken sometime in the early ‘30s, most likely to commemorate some special occasion – a Christmas party, perhaps, or someone’s birthday or wedding. The most prominent figure in the old black and white image is the young bartender posed in the near foreground. He couldn’t possibly have been more than 18 years old, and he had a profile that would rival Rod La Rocque or Tyrone Power. I’ve been told that his name was Charlie Fenwick, and he was among the first beloved Glendale bartenders. He was an entertaining fellow, and his customers adored him. Legend has it that he could juggle half a dozen martini glasses without losing as much as a single drop of gin. Charlie was drafted shortly after Pearl Harbor, and he completed two tours of duty in the South Pacific before being decorated, discharged, and sent back home to California. But following a hero’s welcome, he unfortunately died from a rattlesnake bite while hunting snowshoe hare in the Verdugo mountains. Since that fateful day in 1946, the ghost of Charlie Fenwick has often been seen behind the bar at Dave’s, skillfully juggling martini glasses for the amusement of his long-passed and endeared regulars. To this day, the “Snakebite” is still one of our most frequently requested drinks.

No sooner had Tricia emerged from escrow when Covid-19 temporarily closed down the pub. None of us knew this global crisis would persist for so long, but I’m happy to report that the downtime has been well-spent. Tricia has not only restored Dave’s to its former glory, but she did so without sacrificing a bit of it’s charm. When she invited me in for a sneak preview, I stepped through the door and almost dropped to my knees. The entire site, from floor to ceiling, looks like a refurbished piece of history from Glendale’s “golden age.” The fiery glow of Edison bulbs casts soft light and stark shadow across a sea of midnight blue that now adorn the walls. She found replica’s of Dave’s old safari trophies, dating back to the turn of the century – before golf replaced hunting as the sport of America’s gentlemanly elite.The pool table is refurbished and covered with crimson red felt, and the lavish new carpet makes me want to take off my shoes and coquettishly smile.

On the walls are old photos that capture all the moments in history since Dave opened his doors for the very first time. I wonder which patron asked Charlie Fenwick, back in 1934, to turn up the radio so everyone could hear Clark Gable accept his Academy Award? What were the customers chatting about when the Hindenburg blew up and fell out of the sky only three years later? Who was sitting on that third stool from the door in 1941, stunned with horror after the bombing of Pearl Harbor? I have a few patrons that recall being here at Dave’s when first learning of JFK’s assassination in 1963, or watching Neal Armstrong’s first step on the moon in ’69. Of course, my favorite picture will always have to be that sepia toned shot of Charlie and the boys with the first pack of Glendale regulars. So, you can imagine how utterly astonished I was to see that Tricia had blown that picture up into a life-sized mural. The cherished old photograph is now a 10 – foot homage to the past, so we can all remember how Dave’s On Broadway first began.

I must admit I was a bit apprehensive, watching workmen come and go over the last year or so. But now that I’ve seen it and experienced it myself, I’m happy to say that Dave’s is ready, willing, and able to turn the latch once again. How excited I am to jump back behind the bar and rejoin all of our loyal friends in the conversations we had going. Now that the house has been whipped into shape, I have no doubt it’ll see another charmed hundred years. Hopefully, I will never have to leave Dave’s again, or go such a long time without seeing all of our beloved patrons. Dave’s has never been just a place to wet your whistle or to tell tall tales to the first willing stranger. It’s where we go to make our friends and to share stories of both tragedy and triumph. But when I’m long gone – hopefully years from now – you can bet your life you will see the ghosts of Charlie and me pouring Jewel City martinis and juggling the stemware without losing a drop.

By Criss Lassiter

NOTES FROM A BARTENDER

Until the spring of 2020, the devoted patrons of Glendale’s oldest neighborhood tavern would never have believed its doors could close, even though most LA bars tend to come and go like a summer movie release at the Chinese theater. Now approaching its 90th birthday, Dave’s has managed to stay open through a great depression, five foreign wars, and enough tilt-a-whirl earthquakes to rattle the soul. It would take a pandemic to force the turning of the latch – a latch that, thus far, has never tumbled before. For the past 20 years, Dave Lumb and Dave Hadley co-owned the aptly named landmark, but as they were both embracing their autumn years, they decided to pass the establishment on to another worthy proprietor. Although interested buyers placed their bids, something always seemed to prohibit the closing of the deal. It was almost as though the spirit of its founder was patiently waiting for that “glass slipper fit.” So when Tricia La Belle showed an interest in acquiring the bar, I knew then and there that the spirit of Dave’s had just made its choice. I didn’t need a crystal ball to know that Tricia was “the one.” She had acquired Boardner’s in Hollywood from Mr. Hadley as well. Boardner’s, on Cherokee just south of the boulevard, has been a Hollywood staple since it opened during the early days of WWII. I, myself, have been a frequent customer there, having discovered the place during Desert Storm back in ‘91. In those days, Boardner’s was somewhat neglected. It was one of those sawdust – covered dives, bathed in flickering neon – a fading homage to a bygone era that had somehow maintained that lived-in comfortability, like a favorite pair of wellworn jeans. Tricia bought the old tavern in 1998, and within a year it looked like a ’42 Studebaker perfectly restored back to showroom new. Without losing any of the familiarity that its patrons loved about the place, it now had a romantic “noir” atmosphere. Every booth looked like it had been reserved for Bogie and Bacall, and every barstool seemed to fit like a soft leather glove. The whole place felt like something out of a Raymond Chandler novel – and now this makeover magician had her eye on Dave’s. Dave’s is 10 years older than Boardner’s, having opened its doors in the spring of 1932. It is said that ol’ Dave had predicted the repeal of prohibition, so he set up a soda-shop – to be converted into a cocktail bar on a moment’s notice. Some say he even dug a speak-easy tunnel underneath Broadway that led to the grand ballroom of the Glendale Hotel. I, personally, have never seen this sublevel thoroughfare, although many of my customers claim to know it quite well. But whatever it was – a soda-shop or a tunnel – when prohibition was repealed, Dave’s poured its first legal martini on December 5th of the following year. It’s hard to believe that almost a century has passed since that first cocktail was served at Dave’s On Broadway. I shudder to think of all that has transpired here during that time. There’s an old sepia toned photograph above the cash register of the original bartenders and their earliest clientele. It was taken sometime in the early ‘30s, most likely to commemorate some special occasion – a Christmas party, perhaps, or someone’s birthday or wedding. The most prominent figure in the old black and white image is the young bartender posed in the near foreground. He couldn’t possibly have been more than 18 years old, and he had a profile that would rival Rod La Rocque or Tyrone Power. I’ve been told that his name was Charlie Fenwick, and he was among the first beloved Glendale bartenders. He was an entertaining fellow, and his customers adored him. Legend has it that he could juggle half a dozen martini glasses without losing as much as a single drop of gin. Charlie was drafted shortly after Pearl Harbor, and he completed two tours of duty in the South Pacific before being decorated, discharged, and sent back home to California. But following a hero’s welcome, he unfortunately died from a rattlesnake bite while hunting snowshoe hare in the Verdugo mountains. Since that fateful day in 1946, the ghost of Charlie Fenwick has often been seen behind the bar at Dave’s, skillfully juggling martini glasses for the amusement of his long-passed and endeared regulars. To this day, the “Snakebite” is still one of our most frequently requested drinks. No sooner had Tricia emerged from escrow when Covid-19 temporarily closed down the pub. None of us knew this global crisis would persist for so long, but I’m happy to report that the downtime has been well-spent. Tricia has not only restored Dave’s to its former glory, but she did so without sacrificing a bit of it’s charm. When she invited me in for a sneak preview, I stepped through the door and almost dropped to my knees. The entire site, from floor to ceiling, looks like a refurbished piece of history from Glendale’s “golden age.” The fiery glow of Edison bulbs casts soft light and stark shadow across a sea of midnight blue that now adorn the walls. She found replica’s of Dave’s old safari trophies, dating back to the turn of the century – before golf replaced hunting as the sport of America’s gentlemanly elite.The pool table is refurbished and covered with crimson red felt, and the lavish new carpet makes me want to take off my shoes and coquettishly smile. On the walls are old photos that capture all the moments in history since Dave opened his doors for the very first time. I wonder which patron asked Charlie Fenwick, back in 1934, to turn up the radio so everyone could hear Clark Gable accept his Academy Award? What were the customers chatting about when the Hindenburg blew up and fell out of the sky only three years later? Who was sitting on that third stool from the door in 1941, stunned with horror after the bombing of Pearl Harbor? I have a few patrons that recall being here at Dave’s when first learning of JFK’s assassination in 1963, or watching Neal Armstrong’s first step on the moon in ’69. Of course, my favorite picture will always have to be that sepia toned shot of Charlie and the boys with the first pack of Glendale regulars. So, you can imagine how utterly astonished I was to see that Tricia had blown that picture up into a life-sized mural. The cherished old photograph is now a 10 – foot homage to the past, so we can all remember how Dave’s On Broadway first began. I must admit I was a bit apprehensive, watching workmen come and go over the last year or so. But now that I’ve seen it and experienced it myself, I’m happy to say that Dave’s is ready, willing, and able to turn the latch once again. How excited I am to jump back behind the bar and rejoin all of our loyal friends in the conversations we had going. Now that the house has been whipped into shape, I have no doubt it’ll see another charmed hundred years. Hopefully, I will never have to leave Dave’s again, or go such a long time without seeing all of our beloved patrons. Dave’s has never been just a place to wet your whistle or to tell tall tales to the first willing stranger. It’s where we go to make our friends and to share stories of both tragedy and triumph. But when I’m long gone – hopefully years from now – you can bet your life you will see the ghosts of Charlie and me pouring Jewel City martinis and juggling the stemware without losing a drop.

By Criss Lassiter

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.