Established in 1915, Townhouse is the oldest bar in Venice and one of the oldest bars in the Los Angeles area. Townhouse's live entertainment basement, The Del Monte Speakeasy, was a true speakeasy during Prohibition and a night-life nucleus, serving many nefarious and infamous characters of the day, masked cleverly by Menotti's grocery store above.
Today both floors serve hand-crafted cocktails from the golden age of drinking with classic bartending techniques and knowhow, and offer a fine library of world-class spirits, beer, and wine. The Del Monte Speakeasy features the crème de la crème of live entertainment five to seven nights a week including everything from live music, djs, comedy and burlesque.
History: Abbot Kinney, whose dream was to build Venice of America, constructed the commercial portion of his project on Windward Avenue in the early 1900’s. The buildings on this street were designed and built in the "Venetian Renaissance" style. Their model was Venice, Italy's Plaza San Marco, whose buildings featured enclosed colonnaded walkways. Concrete foundations for the 82 cast iron support columns for Windward's commercial buildings were poured the last week of December 1904. Completion of the first phase on the North side of Windward was heralded on July 4, 1905.
Menotti's Buffet, located on the South side of the street at 52 Windward Avenue, opened to rave reviews in 1915 and the name is still visible on the original tile floor at the front of the bar today. During the Prohibition era of the 1920’s, when liquor was banned, there was an illegal speakeasy hidden in the basement. Murals adorning the basement walls of the Townhouse were originally painted sometime in 1915 and depicted landscape scenes of early Southern California, including some romanticized canal views in Venice. Also in 1915, the Venice Grand Prix was held on St. Patrick's Day as 75,000 spectators watched the 300-mile automobile race as Barney Oldfield, driving a Maxwell, won in 4 ½ hours with an average speed of 65 MPH.
Sometime in the 1950’s the old bar’s name was changed to Grady’s Town House. On May 2nd, 1972, Ronald and Annie Bennett purchased the bar from the old owner, Gus Hinkleman, with the name now shortened to the Townhouse. Both Frank and Annie had been a mainstay in Venice until November 1990, when Annie passed away and left Ronald, known as Frank to most family and friends, at the helm until his passing in September 2003.
The Townhouse legacy continues today and is home to one of the oldest continuous running bars on the west coast. It has been a family tradition for over 30 years and is now operated by the Ryans.