What’s Been Good For Hermosa Beach Will Be Great For Balboa Peninsula Nightlife
I can think of one word to describe American Junkie taking over the space next to Woody’s Wharf in Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula: Finally.
Finally, a place is going in that location that has the right idea and will be around for a while.
Finally, a place is going in that location that fits the area’s attitude and will become a regular bar destination for locals.
Finally, there is place on the water that will make a great one-two punch with Woody’s, particularly on all those sunny weekend afternoons.
American Junkie has already won me over with its Hermosa Beach location. It’s in the former Sangria, next to Sharkeez on the Hermosa Pier. It has a great staff, hot and friendly bartenders (I’m referring to the girls, but the guy bartenders are also friendly, tho I am not qualified to comment on their hotness) and the best Happy Hour happening in the South Bay.
That’s because its Happy Hour is in effect on the weekends. On Saturdays and Sunday afternoons, in fact.
From 3-7, you can get mixed drinks and all the beer it sells – that includes my favorites, Stella Artois and Longboard Lager – for $3. Not surprisingly the place is always packed on weekend afternoons.
The food is good – huge pizzas, tacos and such, nothing fancy but certainly better and more substantial than a simple refueling endeavor – with food and drink specials every night of the week. On Tuesdays, for example, you can get a pizza and a pitcher of beer for 12 bucks.
You put that in Newport Beach, which has a thirsty community of beach-loving people, boat owners and friends of the boat owners, and you’ve got an instant success in an ideal location.
The property is literally right next door to Woody’s, which has boat slips that skippers use to tie up to the dock. It even has a waitress to bring food and drinks out to captains and crew. Most people, however, prefer to go inside, to the well-worn wooden bar and out to its patio for their partying. This simple approach has worked for decades.
The adjacent building, on the other hand, has changed hands more times than citations between the Newport Beach Police and Dennis Rodman.
It has been most recently Commonwealth Lounge, and also Ten Waterfront and Kantina (even a Hooters for a brief time). Generally, it’s been a high-end concept that has had initial popularity but then fades because it doesn’t fit the crowd. The places have all been too fancy, too expensive and too far the opposite of Woody’s to sustain any kind of longevity. Or, in the case of Hooter’s, too tacky for Newport.
The location needs to be a flip flops and shorts place, not one of suits and cocktail dresses. It needs to be casual with a lively atmosphere, good but not gourmet food, and sports. It begs for a hang-out bar that can consistently bring in a regular crowd. It’s not a spot for $15 martinis and the occasional expensive dinner.
And it is exactly that casual, everyday bar approach that American Junkie is bringing to the area.
People in Newport Beach will dive into it the way surfers do the waves at the Wedge. Those weekend Happy Hours will pack the place, and if the management and staff is equal to their associates in Hermosa Beach, then it will become a fixture in the Newport nightlife scene long into the future.
How successful will American Junkie be on the Newport Beach bar scene? It’s the best thing to happen to it since Sharkeez arrived on the peninsula. I can bet that it already has the attention of Sharkeez, and that’s a powerful statement about the impact Junkie will have on the area.
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