Ralphs Bar: Drink up on aisle 17
It won’t stop. The forever expanding “next ” when it comes to cloned bar themes, luring Thrillist zombies with promises of the newest rousing backdrop. Stampedes run to get a chance at a high priced colorful cocktail served with a free beta fish (maybe we went too far with the fish, but did we?) After all this is Los Angeles, nothing is too out of the ordinary. But let’s ignore the noise, and ask - has the “next ” become the ordinary?
Routines in our city define us as citizens. A trip to the bank, a stop at the post office, a dog walk in the park, and most frequently, a run to the grocery store. It doesn’t get more Americana than a swarming bustle of the local grocery crowd seeking last minute ingredients for a home cooked meal. Here we nod at neighbors, recognize city officials, talk football with our favorite deli man and … grab a beer? This sounds very unordinary. When at Ralphs on 9th, you should grab a beer. Push the cart aside for a moment and you’ll discover one of the most real-life, organic bar atmospheres in the city.
Two beers for $3, or three beers for $4. Take that gentrification! A deal yes, but it’s beyond the advertised price. It’s the people that make this unassuming bar refreshingly human. Ruthie is a writer who comes to scribble her tales, but not alone. She cordially kidnaps her neighbor’s dog Lola, who is the most popular pup on the block. “Lola loves to see all her friends here, gives me the chance to do the same.” Grinning Jerry lived across the street for fifteen years, but recently moved to Koreatown. The commute doesn’t stop his evening Ralphs routine. Jerry knows the value, “This is a bar where you recognize faces, you’re greeted and welcomed when you walk in. Can’t re-create this kind of environment, not a chance.” Jerry hangs his jacket and starts shaking hands down the bar as if he is running for mayor. Sergio sarcastically announces he “comes in for the soup!” addressing one of the eight soup cans stacked in front of him. Obviously the soup was an excuse to see the gang, and unlike the cream of mushroom, the friendships next to him have no expiration date.
Gordon oversees the operation, pouring beer and changing channels for the rambunctious crew. More than the barman, he’s part of the family. When the evening deepens, the pack begins to grow. A fusion of individuals sharply dressed mix with uniformed nine-to-fivers fresh off the clock. Fedora caps meet hard hats, and suit coats meet biker leather fashioning a collection of unique individuals truly defining the value of diversity that is recognized as a founding principle in our growing city. So grab a Ralphs beer and be welcomed warmly by citizens that define our community. The spirits posted up on this island of bar stools are brighter than the overhead fluorescent lights and fresher than the produce isle after a timed mist. This buzzing bar in Ralphs, it’s anything but ordinary.
Written by Travis Platt | Illustration by Sara Nicely