Seeing Stars: Restaurants Owned by the Stars..
    
 

The House of Blues
8430 Sunset Boulevard,
West Hollywood, CA. / (323) 848-5100




This 1000-capacity restaurant / showroom / supperclub was opened in April of 1994 by none other than Elwood Blues himself: actor Dan Aykroyd, who starred on "Saturday Night Live," and in movies such as "Ghostbusters," "Trading Places," and of course "The Blues Brothers."
He and Isaac Tigret (who co-founded the Hard Rock Cafe) are the principal players. But other celebrity investors include actor Jim Belushi (whose late brother, John, was the other half of the Blues Brothers), the rock group Aerosmith, singer Isaac Hayes, comic actor George Wendt ('Norm' from "Cheers") and David Letterman's too-hip bandleader, Paul Shaffer. Many of these stars performed at the House of Blues on its opening night

Located in the heart of the Sunset Strip (on the spot where the old John Barrymore's estate used to be), the exterior of the House of Blues resembles a giant tin shack. It was inspired by an old, metal cotton gin at the famous "crossroads " outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi, where Highways 61 & 49 meet, and where (according to legend) the father of the delta blues, Robert Johnson, sold his soul to the Devil in return for his musical talent. The owners imported the corrugated tin from that Southern gin mill, and even put genuine Mississippi mud under the stage and in the planters.

Naturally, the joint is jumpin' with plenty of live music. The owners hope to make this a first-class shrine to hard-working blues acts, but don't expect just blues at the House of Blues. They have one of the most eclectic booking schedules imaginable, with lots of rock, pop and country thrown in the mix. (For more information about the acts performing on stage at the House of Blues, click here.)

Advance tickets are sold through TicketMaster for shows by big name rock/pop/blues/soul acts such as Junior Wells, George Thorogood, Johnny Rivers, Etta James, Little Richard, Huey Lewis & the News, Cheap Trick and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Every spot in the club, both upstairs and down, has an excellent view of the stage, thanks to innovative hydraulics which swing the upstairs bar out of the way and raise the stage when the music starts. The $500,000 sound system is state-of-the-art, and there's a large dance floor.

      

As you might expect, the House of Blues quickly became a hot spot for Hollywood celebs. Besides the club's famous investors, customers so far have included stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Brad Pitt, Madonna, Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson, Sly Stallone, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Sally Field, Wesley Snipes, Lily Tomlin, Keanu Reeves, Prince/, Jenny McCarthy, Christian Slater, Sandra Bullock, Heather Locklear & Richie Sambora, Leonard Nimoy, Matthew Modine, Tori Spelling, Lisa Hartman, Disney chief Michael Eisner, singers George Michael, Smokey Robinson, John Bon Jovi, Rita Coolidge, Eagles-member Joe Walsh, former-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor and the one and only James Brown.

     

Dustin Hoffman showed up for their Gospel brunch, and went backstage to compliment the artists. On another date, Hoffman took over most of the club to throw a Bar Mitzvah party for his son, Jake.

Back when the HoB had just opened, Barry Watson ('Matt' on "7th Heaven" and 'Brian' on "What About Brian?") was working at the House of Blues as a valet parking attendent, when actress Tori Spelling drove in. He parked her can but she didn't tip him. Two years later , Barry and Tori were on a movie of the week together and he told her about the incident. (She eventually gave him a dollar...)

O.J. Simpson and his wife, Nicole, were seen here with Byron Allen just a few weeks before the infamous murders.

Brad PittJennifer Aniston showed up for the afterparty of the Aniston's 2001 movie "Rock Star," held at HOB, along with Mark Wahlberg and other members of the "Friends" cast.

Oscar Night 2000 saw the House of Blues hosting a bash for the Hollywood Stock Exchange, with party guests including 'N Sync, Kelsey Grammar, Rob Schneider, Edward Furlong, Jerry O'Connell, Portia De Rossi, Stephen Baldwin, Anna Nicole Smith, and the casts of "Roswell" and "Popular."

But topping it all was the night of Sept. 21, 1995, when President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore dropped by and sung along with Jim Belushi on the old Elvis song, "Viva Las Vegas!".

In 2003, the club was unfortunately involved in a celebrity scandal. Famed record producer Phil Spector met actress Lana Clarkson at the House of Blues, where she was working as a hostess. They went back to his mansion in Alhambra, but after dropping them off, the chauffeur heard gunshots. The police were called, Clarkson's body was found in the marble foyer of the 33-room home, and Spector was arrested for murder. The case is still pending.

But it hasn't slowed down the party scene at HoB. In 2004, a Stevie Wonder concert brought out Leonardo DiCaprio, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst and Beyoncé.

And in September of 2011, President Barack Obama held a fund-raiser there.

The interior of the three-story House of Blues is rather eccentric; at 30,000 square feet, it's a dazzling feast for the eyes, with eye-popping colors. Entering from Sunset, you walk through the colorful gift shop, then down a spiral staircase. The 75-foot bar is elaborately covered with tens of thousands of multicolored bottlecaps, and virtually every inch of surface at the club is adorned with Day of the Dead skeletons and funky Southern folk art designs. It cost the owners $9 million to make this place look like a dive.

The "Blues Angels" ceiling is made up of 108 white plaster, bas-relief panels created by Andrew Wood, each depicting a master of the blues; blue light filters through the skylights to simulate Mississippi moonlight. The look is lived-in, the ambiance is laid-back, and most of the Beautiful People here dress in work clothes.

In their new restaurant, named The Porch, lunch is served seven days a week, at 11:30 a.m.. Dinner is served until midnight Sunday through Thursday, and until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Regular menu selections range from Mississippi soul food to Mexican fare. There are quite a few Southern/Cajun items offered, including shrimp & andouille sausage jambalaya, gumbo, deep-fried catfish, baby back ribs with Jack Daniels hot sauce, a New Orleans po boy, and chicken-fried steak with mustard greens.

But if the rural decor doesn't put you in the mood for Southern food, there are also California items such as roasted garlic pizza, tuna fettucini and a half-pound burger.

Every Sunday at noon, there's the popular Gospel Brunch, an all-you-can-eat buffet with live gospel choirs rockin' the rafters. (Remember, in the original movie, the Blues Brothers were "on a mission from God!" A giant Sacred Heart logo hovers on stage, behind the performers, and the house band is called "The Sacred Hearts").

The food is nothing exceptional, but perhaps better than at most celebrity restaurants, and the prices are reasonable. The Gospel Brunch is a flat $32 for adults, $16 for kids.

But food isn't really the point here - the music is. And that's what they do best.

You can make reservations dinner & lunch reservations by phoning (323) 848-5123. Or you can make reservations for the Gospel Brunch or buy tickets to the concerts at (323) 848-5100. (For more information on the performances, see the separate page on live concerts at the House of Blues.)

There's even a gift shop, called "The Company Store," offering blues CD's, folk art, furniture, and a wall of Gruhn guitars.  Careful, though: valet parking costs $10. (Parking for lunch is free.)

This was actually House of Blues #3 for Aykroyd; he already had one restaurant each in New Orleans and Boston.  Dan also has a piece of the Hard Rock Cafe chain.

Update: In 2001, a brand new House of Blues opened at Disneyland in Anaheim. Actually, it opened just outside Disneyland, at the new "Downtown Disney" shopping & entertainment mall. So you don't have to buy a ticket to Disneyland to visit the new restaurant/concert venue. The Downtown Disney  mall was part of a major Disneyland expansion which also added a second amusement part (Disney's California Adventure) next door to the original theme park. This new HofB is smaller than the Hollywood branch, but in its first month booked entertainers such as Duran Duran, the Orange County punk rock Lit, and the Rembrandts (best known for their theme from "Friends.").

Getting there: From Hollywood & Vine: take Vine Street south (two blocks) to Sunset Boulevard. Turn right (west) on Sunset, and go west about three miles to Olive. The House of Blues will be on your left (south) side, just before La Cienega, at the southeast corner of Sunset Blvd. & Olive Drive.




[For more information about HOB, you can access their official website at http://www.hob.com.]



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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
All Rights Reserved

This webpage is not associated with any business described in the article above, and does not constitute an
endorsement of this or any other business. The photos of celebrities on this page also do not constitute
endorsements by them of any kind, and are used by the author solely to illustrate this online article.
The HOB logo is used with permission of House of Blues.
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