Historical status for the building that housed the Venice West coffeehouse (see photo, right), the Potpourri coffeehouse, the Vox Populi coffeehouse and Sponto Gallery was approved by the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission, Jan. 7. That’s just the beginning, says Alan Leib, who initiated the application for historical recognition.
Leib, who previously was instrumental in saving the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and other historical sites around L.A. County, would like to create a historical district on Dudley Avenue and revive the Venice West coffeehouse, an important gathering place for Venice Beats in the 1950s and 60s.
While the Dudley Avenue building still must get past the Planning and Land Use Management committee (PLUM) and the L.A. City Council to make historical status official, Leib has already set his sights on historical status for the Cadillac Hotel across the street.
Then, Dudley Avenue west of Speedway could be refurbished with cobblestones and closed to traffic. A fountain or statue could be erected, and the new plaza could be named after a Beat poet, or as Leib prefers, after Jim Morrison of The Doors, although there is no evidence he ever went to the coffeehouse. Ray Manzarek, former keyboardist with The Doors, is one of Leib’s supporters.
Leib says he would like to personally run a new Venice West cafe at 7 Dudley. However, the Piccolo Restaurant at 5 Dudley recently signed an eight-year least for the next-door storefront. Meanwhile, the personal property of Mark “Sponto” Kornfeld, who died in his 7 Dudley gallery last year, were sold at auction. Some of them have turned up on eBay. Sponto also dreamed of reviving the Venice West cafe someday, says Leib.