The Regent Theatre
When Mitchell Frank was looking for a theatre venue in 2006, the landscape of downtown, and the mood of investors, was very different from today. It's a lot like when he opened Club Space-land in Silverlake in '93. “Downtown was basically this oyster ready to be opened, with this amazing pearl inside”.
The pearl he found was The Regent, a 100 year old gothic theatre that has served as grind-house to adult movie theatre throughout the last century. Within just a few years, Spaceland became a force in the LA music scene, making Silverlake the epicenter of the new underground and launching the careers of bands who would later impact music on a national level. With his latest venue, the plan to foster the local community is still the highest priority. "We're in this amazing entertainment zone—the restaurants, bars, and retail...the residents here want their neighborhood to be bad ass." So rather than simply a venue for live music, the Regent plans on other events that lets the locals walk for shopping and cocktails, like the Rock ’n Roll Flea the first Sunday of every month. "We really want to have some fun here, and get the neighbors involved too,” says Frank. If that means closing the street for a Sunday afternoon for a record swap meet, so be it. "They shut down the streets for filming all the time, why can't we take ownership of the streets?"
Unlike Spaceland and his other highly influential ventures, the Echo and sister club Echoplex, the Regent is a much more ambitious, and personal undertaking. Beyond the laborious task of refurbishing the beautifully ancient (in LA years) theatre, Frank has expanded the experience by including the accompanying Love Song Bar and Prufrock Pizzeria, both of which offer a degree of craft and quality unseen by any LA music venue at this level. What makes them special though isn't driven by pretense or premium prices, but rather the meticulous attention to detail Mitchell Frank has pored over to bring locals and those from both sides of the 110 a simply higher quality experience. “I wanted a different experience, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be elevated. There’s no reason you shouldn't be able to get good pizza and a good drink at a show in LA”. So Prufrock offers a solid selection of hand crafted gourmet pizzas that pair incredibly well with an abundance of pre/post show drinks, or simply an above par work day lunch. It means a lot for a city infamous for its inability to compete with truly great pizza. If you're expect-ing the Love Song Bar to have a jukebox of The Damned's complete catalog, you'd be mistaken. The entire Regent experience is influenced by TS Elliot's 'The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock", the poem that inspired Frank’s youth, and now again to create his opus.
The Regent is flanked by its smaller siblings, with Prufrock Pizzeria on its left. The rustic Italian interior and wood oven is where Tobi Martin-Frank, the Pizza Queen herself, created the menu and developed all its Neapolitan recipes. To the right you’ll find The Love Song, the western gothic saloon with craft drinks and vinyl-only jukebox. A disemboweled piano faces the en-trance, its violent beauty draws you closer. As if recently dusted off and freshly painted, The Love Song is a wonderfully haunted relic from a bygone era, inviting and eerie all at once. The theatre though, is the belle of ball here. It’s downright cozy compared to The Orpheum or Wiltern, offering very close and clear sight lines, plus a groundbreaking new sound system. The back bar woodwork was repurposed from a turn of the century church, the old wood from the remodeling being repurposed and milled into table tops, bars, and beams.
With Mitchell Frank’s vision in place, The Regent appears poised to take Downtown’s music scene and the Historic Core’s community to a grander stage as well.