Silver Lake needs a new haunt for the more upscale clientele the neighborhood has been attracting in recent years. Yes, Bar Stella and Black Cat are stellar, but these spots are a secret no more. Overcrowded barrooms warrant a move to more undiscovered surroundings for the small hope of plentiful seating and a lower decibel level conducive to conversation.
Enter Tenants of The Trees. What used to be a dive-y gay bar named MJ’s is gearing up for its big open, presenting a completely renovated space that will house a cocktail bar, secret music venue, and outdoor movie theater. Founders Reza Fahim and Jason Lev gave us a peek at the interiors (and exteriors), and this bar is worth the hype.
With Griffith’s forest landscape nearby, the physical location is nestled at the foot of a hill surrounding the Silver Lake reservoir. The neighborhood plays home to thousands looking for that ideal mix of urban life and natural surroundings, a combination that seems to be what Fahim and Lev have recreated in cocktail-friendly form. “Jonnie Houston [Harvard and Stone, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s] once told me that there’s no bad locations, only bad concepts,” said Fahim. “Tenants of The Trees reflects the neighborhood. A neighborhood bar should also have the DNA of a destination spot.”
The Houston Brothers shout-out stems from Fahim’s history as a co-conspirator in the hospitality impresario’s projects. He earned his chops working alongside Mark and Jonnie, collaborating on the creative concepts behind some of their previous endeavors. But for Reza, nightlife was never the plan. A former film school kid (UCSB and UCLA), he fell into hospitality after college. His experience working with the best in the business, coupled with his aesthetic instinct, made for a diverse perspective—a visual and logistical dexterity he called upon to conceptualize Tenants.
Lev packs an equally notable resume. His background in real estate development, working alongside some of the most prominent architects in the city with his company GroundupLA, proved to be instrumental in navigating the meticulous development process. Together, Reza and Jason spent hundreds of hours debating and discussing the project’s execution. Months later, the two got it right. “I decided to plant the entire backyard with trees. When the slope fills out in about a year, we will have our own little forest, and the name will make a lot more sense for people scratching their heads. We planted about 100 trees, plants, and buffalo grass for the entire backyard,” said Fahim. Out of Order, their music venue, will be invite only, showcasing both up-and-comers and big names alike. The covert VIP area is tucked away to the right, a space sanctioned for acoustics and privacy.
“I made a life of collecting records,” Lev said. “A type of micro performance space was really the only thing I insisted on. My favorite residencies I ever had as a DJ were in rooms the exact size that we built as a performance space.”
And if sound quality and intimacy wasn’t enough to have you vying for whatever secret password gets you into this joint, their pet-peeve policy will have genuine live-music lovers enthralled. “In this room, there’s a no cell phone or camera policy, which we have built lockers for if you can’t resist,” Lev said. Fahim and Lev are true purists. Their dream crowd for the space will happen when the listicle hype is no longer present. “People tend to want to go to hot spots,” Fahim said. “I still want to go to places when they’re long cooled off. There are bars that I still frequent, and they’ve been open for years. The genetic code evolves over time once the window shoppers have disappeared and you get to see the bar’s real identity. The regulars. My goal is to have regulars by staying true to the original vision.” Cheers to a new Cheers-type bar that we selfishly hope can stay quiet as long as possible. Wait, why are we writing this again?
Tenants of the Trees 2810 Hyperion Ave. Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA / @tenantsofthetrees / @outofordersilverlake
Photography: Ryan Schude