It Took A While But This Local Warms to New Upper Manhattan Bar Location
It was difficult at first.
I knew it was time for a change, but I also didn’t want to let go, stubbornly clinging to my comfort zone.
It was almost like breaking up with your first girlfriend.
Except this wasn’t a girlfriend, it was a pal. A partner in crime. A wingman. Sharkeez Manhattan Beach had become all that and more, not just to myself but to dozens of locals, particularly those of us who live in El Porto and could simply “walk up the hill” and then “stumble down the hill” as we so often said. And did (ha!).
The original location had character, the kind of which develops with a simple beginning and by opening its arms to locals, who become so loyal they actually stamp an identity on a place, rather than the other way around.
So when Sharkeez packed up its hanging plastic sharks, kegs and buckets of Shark Attacks – a wild rum-and-something concoction served in a big bucket with large straws, a party-inducing drink if ever there was one – and moved up the street in April of 2011, there was little question I was going to miss the original location.
I nearly collapsed when owner Greg Newman told me how long Sharkeez had been in its original location. It was nearly as old as some of the girls I was hitting on in the place!
Still, the last few years had seen it become less and less of a South Bay hangout – the Hermosa Beach location became the South Bay’s King of the Beach bar – and even long-time locals like myself had begun to say a change was needed.
So when the new Sharkeez opened in a more refined building in the former Upper Manhattan (and, going back further into local nightlife history, Harry O’s and even Brennan’s) location, it created a “hey, that could be great” thought.
But initially, the feeling wasn’t there with the new Sharkeez. Part of the problem was that it was too sanitized. You could smell fresh air; the original Sharkeez had sawdust on the floor. The staff was also largely unfamiliar to me. How could this be? I had gotten to know every bartender the original place ever had, yet at the new location I couldn’t find a familiar face anywhere.
It was also difficult to even get a drink; one night myself and other customers had to shout to get a bartender’s attention. He was standing right there but staring into space.
The placement of the TVs was even awkward; there were 50-someting mid-sized screens but no large ones and if you sat on the west side of the bar you couldn’t see the top of the screens.
But, like a guy who continues to talk to a girl even when she is initially uninterested, the new Sharkeez began to wear me down. A few familiar faces became staffers and managers. New, larger TVs began to appear. They started live music on Sunday nights and when they brought in Brazilian Bombshell Tatiana, the place was filled with many of my most fun friends. The good time – no the great time we had – was reminiscent of being back in the original Sharkeez.
And then, when I saw Longboard Lager – my absolutely favorite beer – had been added to the draft selections, I realized I was hooked. The “liquid aloha” of Longboard goes with Sharkeez like red cups go with keg parties. I take to it the way surfers take to the waves in El Porto.
I knew then that I had officially bonded with the new Sharkeez location.
So for the PubClub.com Bar Blogger, let the party begin at Sharkeez all over again!
• Manhattan Beach Nightlife