Industry Insiders: Bobby Green, Designer of L.A.’s Top Themed Bars

When Bobby Green (center) transformed a space in Los Angeles into a log cabin-inspired bar in 1998, and quickly saw lines form to get inside, he knew he had hit on something huge.

“I realized that people don’t just want a cool bar with red lights and velvet chairs; they want more,” says Green, the man responsible for transforming L.A. nightlife into a highly thematic, immersive experience into another era. As the creative director of nightlife company 1933 Group, and a self-professed “old soul,” Green has since opened, among others, the Mexican grotto-inspired bar La Cuevita, the post-Prohibition Thirsty Crow, and most recently, the Savannah townhouse Sassafras Saloon, trucked in straight from Georgia.

“Sassafras is our biggest and grandest spot so far,” Green says. “We had more money and time to make the place perfect, so we shopped around Savannah to buy bits and pieces that really capture that lazy, relaxed Southern feeling.”

While Green is inspired by the movie set that is the city of Los Angeles, most of his ideas come straight from his favorite memories of growing up in Oklahoma, and skiing in New Mexico and Colorado every year. “I live in another era,” Green says. “There are so many places I’ve gone to and love, and all I want to do is recreate them, and let others have those incredible experiences.”

Your 2010-11 Los Angeles Nightlife Roundup

Last year, it felt like everyone in Los Angeles finally realized the dream of opening their own bar. But nightlife being the fickle beast that it is, not all of them will last. The bars that made the most noise in 2010 will likely survive to see 2012 and beyond, but they’re not necessarily the best of the bunch. Brent Bolthouse and Guy Starkman’s Trousdale (pictured above) had a very successful year and recently paid back all its investors (a coup in under 12 months). Across the street from Trousdale on the Sunset Strip, Soho House had an equally successful 2010.

On the other side of town, Echo Park and Silver Lake saw the opening of a few new bars that made a bit of buzz, albeit of the low-key variety. The truck-stop chic of Stinkers gave way to the whiskey-soaked sophistication of The Thirsty Crow in Silver Lake, while Echo Park gained a great new cozy drinking den in 1642 bar. Los Feliz got a new wine bar, Bar Covell, which was a hit with first-daters the second it opened.

Downtown saw an explosion of new finds in 2010, the best being the simplest: Spring St. bar. Cedd Moses’ Las Perlas tempted tequila fiends while ex-Lava Lounge owner Michelle Marini opened up a smallish haunt called The Falls nearby.

Drai’s, Supperclub, Colony, and Premiere all douched up Hollywood, yet all three seem to still be doing well. Hemingway’s did better than all three of the aforementioned spots, at least in terms of drawing a fairly diverse crowd.

So what’s in store this year?

Tonight in Hollywood, The Spare Room at the Roosevelt officially debuts after hosting private holiday parties last month. The cocktail lounge features a gaming parlor and two vintage bowling lanes. Friday, David Judaken’s revamp of Opera debuts, dubbed Eden.

Beyond Hollywood, look for the Houston brothers to make noise once again with several new bars. The two had a huge hit in 2010 with the smart Havana-aping La Descarga, and the brothers will revamp the Stone Bar near Los Feliz this spring with a dive bar for those who are too hip for dive bars. Similarly, Roger Room overlords Jared Meisler and Sean MacPherson are set to make a bit of low key noise with their revamp of the classic Coach & Horses on Sunset Blvd, which recently closed.