Last year, the brick building that houses Señor Fish—which will have to move to make way for the Regional Connector rail line—went up for sale for $1 (a common price for buildings that the owners are hoping will be moved and/or preserved). Though the building is not a recognized historical building, Metro (after LA Conservancy intervention) was hoping to keep it in one piece because of its local historical significance: It's been in one LA family since the 1880s, it housed the legendary punk rock hangout Atomic Cafe, and, later, the equally legendary Chicano cultural incubator Troy Cafe. But even for a dollar, no one wanted the place (relocation costs for an unreinforced building were estimated to be very high), meaning it'll be torn down soon.
The Atomic Cafe, run by Japanese-American Nancy Sekizawa, was a place where "[o]n any given night you could see the likes of Blondie, The Go-Go's, Devo, X, Warhol, David Byrne, Bowie sitting down having a bowl of noodles in the company of old Japanese men with full body tattoos," as Sekizawa remembers it. It was shuttered in 1989, but the Japanese American National Museum held on to the original neon sign.
In 1990, ex-Warholite/Beck's mom Bibbe Hansen and Boyle Heights native/ASCO artist Sean Carillo opened up Troy Cafe in the same spot, hoping to attract "everybody who is 'Other'—women, gays, blacks, Chicanos..." Hansen told Vanity Fair back in 1993. It became the place to see Eastside musical heavy-hitters like Las Tres, Cholita, Quetzal, comedy troupe Culture Clash, and public access show Illegal Interns.
Getting ready for the building to disappear, former customers and the Little Tokyo Service Center have taken to Facebook to share stories and post cool old flyers from both venues.
· Metro Selling Little Tokyo's Former Punk Hangout For a Buck [Curbed LA]