The folks behind hipster hot spot Silverlake Wine had wanted to open a downtown L.A. location for a while, but hadn’t found the right place. So in the meantime, they doubled the size of their 11-year-old Silver Lake shop in 2007 and opened a second store in Pasadena, but downtown never worked out.

“We were definitely courted during the initial downtown revitalization 10 years ago, when things like the Golden Gopher were opening, when downtown L.A. was still very much in this coffee shop, yoga studio everywhere phase,” co-owner Randy Clement said. “We just never really found a place that was right for us.”

But in the past few years, Clement and his wife and partner in the downtown venture, April Langford, started spending a lot of time in the downtown Arts District, hanging out with friends who’d moved into nearby lofts. They quickly became big fans of restaurants Bestia, Bread Lounge and Pizzanista, and bar Tony’s Saloon.

So it was a no-brainer when space opened up at Seventh and Mateo streets in the thick of all those establishments.

It also helped that the previous occupant had a beer and wine shop. Silverlake Wine simply transferred the old license and recently applied for spirits and tasting permissions, too. The co-owners also leased the space next door, where they’ll open bar-restaurant combo ER Bar in about a month. The large parking lot that comes with the combined space was a huge plus.

As for a customer base, Clement said there are now 2,600 Arts District residents.

“Back 11 years ago when we opened Silverlake Wine, people thought we were out of our minds,” Clement recalled. “They said Brentwood, Santa Monica or the Westside, Mid-City, we had to go there. I don’t think this is as much of a Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria move as Silverlake was.”

E3 Vibe

The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo video-game conference descended on the Los Angeles Convention Center last week, pumping up the venue with all things fantastical – from the latest in virtual reality headsets to actors hired to look like zombies from developer Overkill’s “Walking Dead” game.

The convention accounted for some 27,000 hotel room nights, and attendees must have noticed, as they walked from their nearby hotels to the Convention Center, that downtown is a little more friendly, clean and attractive than it has been in years past.

Yet for all the people, lights, noise and marketing machinery inside, the rest of downtown was largely insulated from the revelry. Separated from much of downtown by new apartment construction on Figueroa Street, many attendees didn’t walk far from the Convention Center and instead found fun at nearby LA Live.

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