Q & A With Lou Amdur: On Selling His Wine Bar, Software Insomnia + Drunks in the Parking Lot
LA: They got information from Alcohol Beverage Control Board. What I think about EaterLA is that they are like anti-choice people: They only care about a restaurant before it's born and after it is dead. It's sad. They have a forum and they're not doing shit with it. They're not raising the level of discourse about our restaurant and food culture. It's ... a sub-gossip rag.
SI: On a very different note, let's take a walk down memory lane. What was the most unanticipated thing you ever saw in the parking lot at LOU?
LA: Someone getting a blow-job.
SI: Really? Were they LOU customers?
SI: How about sharing something you learned while running LOU?
LA: Here's something that happened very early on. A very odd woman came in with her boyfriend. There was something off with her affect. She started to talk to me and was leaning over the bar and she said, "Lou? Are you into girls?" I never thought my sexuality was that ambiguous. So I said, "Yes, I am into girls but my lawyer tells me to stay away from them." She, of course, did not know I was making a really bad pedophilia allusion. So her response was, "Ohhhh. You're into boys." Then her boyfriend said, "You can't ask him that!" And as he said that, she leaned backwards and fell off her bar stool. I panicked. I was thinking that she cracked her head open or something. So I leapt around the bar to help her up. She's sitting on the floor and the bar stool is on one side, her ass is on the floor, her sundress is bunched up. No panties. I thought, "Jeez, this never happened in dot.com land!" Now that was a surprise.
SI: By dot.com land you are referring to your previous career as a senior information developer at Symantec software?
LA: Yes. And there was nothing wrong with her affect. I had worked at restaurants but never behind the bar. She was drunk. She wasn't slurring words, but she was drunk. It was like, "Oh, that's what a drunk person can be like!"
SI: Let's move on to the very earliest days of LOU. If we remember correctly, in a display of howdy neighbor-ness, you subjected yourself to a very bruising Thai massage at an establishment in your tiny, L-shaped mini-mall.
SI: Did you ever eat at the circa-1987 burger joint adjacent to your wine bar, Flaming Patty's?
LA: Too many times. I occasionally had to be at LOU at 5 a.m. because we had to get our hood cleaned. I've had many breakfasts at Flaming Patty's.
LA: We do use it. We use it to wash the stuff that we use at the restaurant.
SI: Once our eyes adjusted to the darkness, we have often found ourselves spotting many famous faces at LOU. Frances McDormand. Kirsten Dunst eating with the Rodarte girls... Who were you excited to see?
LA: One night I was making a coffee in the corner near the last banquette and I realized I was staring at this woman. You know me, I'm not a lecherous guy. Nevertheless, I thought, "Good lord. Who is this woman?" Someone had to tell me, "That's Rosario Dawson." She is the kind of person who is radiant and not made more beautiful by being onscreen. In terms of stars for me, though, the people who have meant a lot to me and have actually become friends are people like Brooke Smith. And Barbara Kruger, who I just fucking love! Not only do I love her work but the woman is ... delicious! That's a star for me. When she graces my door, I am always thrilled. It's like [excitedly] "Barbara Kruger is here!"
SI: When LOU first opened in 2006 you could often be found nervously pacing back and forth on the sidewalk, hoping that people would find you. How long did it take before people showed up and you could again sleep at night?