West 4th/Jane takes the best of both cities and creates a lively neighborhood spot in Santa Monica.
In their own modest way, Steve Lieberman and Keith O’Brien are attempting to bridge the cultural gap between New York and Los Angeles — and create your new favorite neighborhood hangout in the process. Considering that their new bar-restaurant West 4th/Jane is just a block away from the consumer crush and tourist trappings of the Third Street Promenade, it’s a formidable endeavor.
“We want to build a good local following and be a more word-of-mouth kind of place,” Lieberman shouts over the din in the bar. “We’ve only been here for about a week, and everyone has been so complimentary. There are lots of corporate giants and college sports bars around here, but there aren’t very many cool hangout places for the 30- to 50-year-old business professionals, or just young, cool folks that want something a little more relaxed.
West 4th/Jane’s relatively quiet location blends easily into the boutique-filled strip of Santa Monica’s 4th Street. ESPN flickers silently on two flat-screen televisions over the dark wood bar while Radiohead plays in the background, just loud enough to be heard without overpowering bar conversations. Eye-popping paintings from local graffiti-style artist Chase line the walls. On the upstairs balcony, a small party has dispersed, leaving a single couple snuggled up next to a Galaga video game.
“We wanted to combine the best of New York and L.A.,” says Lieberman. “Keith and I both grew up in New York, but we’ve also spent a lot of time in New Orleans. So there are lots of touches of those cities in our place.”
The location has found a fan in Barry, a local who asked to go by his first name and who’s been in three times in the first week and is already on a first-name basis with the barkeep.
“The food is great, the people are nice and the prices are right,” Barry says over a Hofbrau from Germany, one of the more than 100 different bottled beers stocked at the bar. “It’s just really comfortable. It kinda feels like I’m not in L.A.”
“We’re very much against the whole flash-in-the-pan phenomenon that seems to rule out here,” Lieberman says. “Places seem to change every couple of years in L.A. We’re New Yorkers, where bars have been there for 50 or 60 years. There are only a few I can think of like that out here in L.A.”
June 19, 2009