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Meet Damian Anastasio of Harvelle’s Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Damian Anastasio.

Damian, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I worked in West LA at a little bar called Liquid Kitty for 20 years. When Liquid Kitty lost it’s lease and closed in August of 2016, the owner of Harvelle’s, Cevin Clark, contacted my co-worker, Jason Gochin and I, and asked us if we were interested in running his club.

We opted to offer him a partnership and take over daily operations. After almost a year of meetings, a deal was struck up and an amazing partnership was created and now Jason and I run the daily operations are co-owners with Cevin. In October of 2017, Jason and I took over. Jason has been in the bar business for over 29 years, and my history goes back to the early 80s in NYC.

Has it been a smooth road?
Getting to where we are now has been through hard work and dedication. There are always struggles in whatever path we choose and in my opinion, it’s always about how you handle things. My method is to not panic and figure out a way to solve the problem without getting emotional. My reputation in the biz has grown from my 20 years at Liquid Kitty, and lucky timing brought us to Harvelle’s.

Owning a bar is quite different from bartending. While Jason and I still bartend, the struggles of an owner can sometimes be overwhelming, but with the support of the team we have created, we have a support system that makes things smoother and easier. We deal with taxes, delivery, scheduling, discipline, costs, repairs, band booking, door issues, etc. It can be quite time-consuming. Even my days off are spent answering phone calls, emails and doing social media.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Harvelle’s Santa Monica – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Harvelle’s was established in 1931! Yes, 1931. We opened as a Jazz club during prohibition. Originally the club was twice the size comprising of the bar next door. We can’t say for sure, but it’s thought to be true that we were an original speakeasy back in the day. About two weeks after prohibition was repealed in 1933, our liquor license was issued. In the late 40s or early 50s the club was split down the middle and a coffee shop named ‘Nat’s’ opened next door. ‘Nat’s’ is now ‘4th and Jane’, our neighbor and friend, and we share the same address.

Over the years we changed from a Jazz club to a dance hall and many incarnations through the years. Blues was our main thing for many years and still is on the weekends. We have broadened our horizons and are now a ‘live entertainment club’. We have acts ranging from indie music, to traditional blues to rock and roll burlesque style modern dance evenings. Our flagship show is ‘The Toledo Show’. Toledo Diamond started performing on Sunday nights 19 tears ago and NEVER MISSED a Sunday! I can not even describe how amazing his show is. Interactive, aerial artist, burlesque and an amazing line up of talented musicians. A must-see show!!

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
LA is an amazing place and it takes some time to understand that. When I first moved here from NYC 25 years ago I really just wanted to go home. It took me a good 2 years to realize that LA has everything to offer if you could get through the surface. It can offer you anything you want, beach, mountains, canyons, opportunity, sunshine, Disney, Magic Mountain, adventure in any direction, entertainment of all kinds and never a dull moment. Within a couple of hours you can be in Mexico, Vegas, Catalina, Los Olivas, and a million other places. The city has it pitfalls, rent is tough, but if you are sly, you can figure it all out. It is a city of hidden gems and great people. You just have to weave through the crazies. But is that any different from anywhere else. Harvelle’s is definitely one of those hidden gems.

Pricing:

  • Well Drinks – $8 or $9
  • Call Drinks – $10
  • Beers – $6 or $8
  • Specialty Cocktails – $12
  • Premium Drinks – $11 to $15

Contact Info:

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