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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Yee Mee Loo, Los Angeles, CA (bar)
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Yee Mee Loo, Los Angeles, CA (bar)
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 21, 2013
Posts: 76
Posted: 2013-07-25 4:37 pm   Permalink

I lived in Boyle Heights from 1986 to 1994 and used to go to Yee Mee Loo's. It always had an interesting mix of off duty cops, City Hall types and artists. We drank the blue drink and Richard the bartender was usually poring over some betting cheat sheet on the races. The same twenty songs played over and over from the wall mounted juke box. It was great. The restaurant had lousy food EXCEPT that it served really late, so you could go there and eat egg rolls after all the other places were closed.
It went out of business and some friends of mine, Mark Bautzer and Brett Witke bought the interior of the bar. They asked me if we could store it in my studio. So we got a bunch of volunteers together and a flatbed truck spent a Saturday taking it apart. Nothing had been removed or cleaned. Actually, I don't think it had been cleaned in a VERY long time. We dismantled the backbar, light fixtures, the bar, barstools. We even tried to remove the panelling (which was so caked with smoke and oil that it looked like Peking Duck and smelled like an ashtray!) but it broke apart. We were amazed to learn that the Juke box was a rental! They had been renting it for thirty years! so we didn't get that. We dragged everything out into the street, loaded it up.
We took the opportunity to go down into the basement, which was dark and dirty and filled with wooden packing crates with chinese markings, straight out of a Charlie Chan movie. The we found the door to the SUB BASEMENT, and this was VERY weird. A small, windowless room with a linoleum floor and old fluorescent lights. Solid color vinyl seating.The room had three doors, each one exited to a DIFFERENT address. Plus, there were cigarette burns on every surface, the seats, the floor, the side tables. It really felt like a shooting gallery or old opium den where the clients nodded out with lit cigarettes hanging from their fingers. It was probably built for smugglers back in the day so you could disappear from one establishment to another. Of course, no one had a camera.
We took the stuff back to my studio and basically reassembled it. The fun part was going out to places and hearing people lament the loss of Yee Mee Loo's and then inviting them back for a drink at the reassembled bar. It blew some minds. The racetrack guy who opened the restaurant in Glendale bought the whole thing a few months later. Then my studio stopped smelling like Yee Mee Loo's.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 16, 2008
Posts: 2646
From: Dogtown, USA
Posted: 2013-07-25 4:45 pm   Permalink

Awesome story, thanks for sharing it !!

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 21, 2013
Posts: 76
Posted: 2013-10-13 11:21 am   Permalink

All of you folks who used to eat at Yee Mee Loo's can now rest easy...
they passed the Health Dept Certification process...Phew!!

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