Hal's Bar & Grill, Playa Vista, CA

Restaurant and Bar Design

We were very proud to be asked to help conceive and design the new venue for the iconic Hal's Bar & Grill, which has been the mainstay of the Venice Beach social life and arts scene for three decades. A collaboration between Mystery’s LA office and Relativity, our architectural partners, this has been a remarkable project to be part of.

The Challenge

Having had the foresight to relocate three miles from its original venue on Abbot Kinney in Venice CA, to ‘Runway’, the new downtown area of Playa Vista, an exciting new part of LA, Hal's Bar & Grill (Hal’s) knew the challenge would be to keep the special ‘magic’ that had generated a massive loyal fan-base of local Venetians, while reinventing itself for the new, younger and largely tech-industry community, known as ‘Silicon Beach’.

Brand positioning

Through our research, workshops and insights, we established the true essence of what has made Hal’s a Venice institution: For so many people Hal’s represents a place where special memories have been created. It’s where so many couples first met; where friends and families celebrated landmarks in their lives; or where spontaneous times on unplanned evenings created unforgettable stories that have become legendary over time.

The new Hal's Bar & Grill is designed to create a new cache of memories for Playa Vista locals, with the same artistic soul, the same hosted service and the modern classic menu and atmosphere that made the original Hal’s famous.

As the ‘Creator Archetype’, the Hal’s brand embodies self-expression, imagination, artistry and a passion to produce. The genuine purpose of the founding operators, who still run Hal’s today, is simply to bring people together through food, drink and art, creating special moments and a lifetime of memories for everyone who goes there.

Hal’s is about creativity and community, aiming to be somewhere that its customers are proud to have in their area. With a long association with local artists, its genuine heritage brings a valuable sense of authenticity and soul to the new town of Playa Vista, providing that illusive lifestyle destination for a special occasion, while working equally well as an everyday hang-out that locals can call their own. No-one feels too dressed-up or too dressed-down at Hal’s.

Interior Design

Hal’s has been at the heart of the Venice Beach arts scene for decades, helping promote (and feed) many well known artists when they were still ‘up and coming’. Continuing this friendship, artistic icons, such as Ed Moses, Laddie John Dill, Larry Bell, Kwaku Alston and Paul Michael Glaser created priceless new artworks for the new Hal’s.  New customers are wowed by the scale and virtuosity of the artwork from such amazing artists, while existing Hal’s fans are reassured by the continuing presence of their favourite artists.

To build on Hal’s affiliation with the local arts scene, we designed a separate gallery space within the restaurant, which hosts regularly changing exhibitions. With a full size wall that slides in place to close off the area and state of the art AV system, it acts as a flexible private entertaining space for parties and corporate events.

Although the original Hal’s did not have space for a central island bar, the luxury of a larger site meant that the new Hal’s bar is a compelling focal point, with its iconoclastic marble front and concrete top with a unique copper inlay detail, illuminated by a bespoke spiralled wineglass chandelier that draws in passers-by through the fully retractable glass front façade.

The leather booths and concrete table tops, so popular in the original Hal’s, have been reproduced and slightly enlarged for the new location, providing a sense of continuity and familiarity for Hal’s aficionados, while delivering comfort and the luxury of space for the new clientele. The central bar, the indoor/outdoor covered dining terrace and the high ceilings combine to create a space with a contemporary classic atmosphere.

Hang out on the terrace for breakfast, perch at the bar after work or relax in the booths and soak up the live music and cool vibes. With Hal’s reputation as the home of Westside jazz, the tradition of regular live bands performing in the bar is maintained in the new venue on Sundays.

“Working with Mystery has been so worthwhile. Dan helped us define and articulate exactly what has made Hal’s so popular over the years and how we should evolve for the next chapter in our story. Many of our customers have told us how much they love the new design, a familiar home-from-home for some and a cool new local hangout for others. Having a clear vision for our brand has meant the design came together beautifully.”

Don Novack - Co-founder

Within the first few weeks of opening, the success of the new venue has already been proven, through the positive response from its ‘new locals’, and the numbers of ‘old crowd’ who are happy to make the trip to continue their friendship with Hal’s.

read more contact us and be inspired SHARE PROJECT