The transformation is happening, and Friday night, the half-century-old Starlite Room will finally become the Startlite Cantina.
There's red paneling inside, large-screened TVs and neon trim around the outside. It's been a place that the stars have come to, the likes of Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth and others (see this story CLICK HERE.)
The family that took over the Henry’s Tacos location on the corner of Moorpark and Tujunga in Studio City has just bought the 57-year-old Starlite Room next door and plan to turn it into a sports bar.
“We want to call it the Starlite Cantina and make it a very fun place,” said Martha Silva, who is married to Mario Tornel, who is listed as the purchaser of the business. Their son, Marlo Tornel, is manager of the Cactus Tacos #3 that replaced the neighborhood legacy Henry’s Tacos, which moved half a block away in Tujunga Village.
It’s tough for regulars of the Starlite to talk about the sale of one of the longest-running businesses in Studio City.
“It’s still a little stunning for me to deal with, I’m not sure I can talk about it just yet,” said Risa Herring, who has owned the bar with her husband for the past 17 years.
One of the old-timers, Phil, came in and ordered a beer while work was being done. Marlo let him stay.
"I like what they've done with the place," said Phil.
The owner of both properties, Mehran Ebrahimpour, knew that Herring was looking to sell, and had hoped the people that replaced Henry’s would also eventually take over the neighboring business that shares a parking lot.
“We love the idea of taking over the Starlite and making that corner a happening place in Studio City,” Silva said. “We want everyone to be welcome there.”
Silva has worked in Studio City’s Sportsmen’s Lodge as a bartender and also worked at the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood and Ernie’s Tacos. She also works at an upholstery shop in Pasadena and plans to renovate the seats and décor at the Starlite.
The Starlite has no kitchen and doesn’t serve food, but now they envision that some food could be brought over from Cactus Tacos during Happy Hour specials, and more.
“I can see that I will make some ceviche over at Cactus and walk across the parking lot and bring it over,” Silva said. “We will have big screens and watch soccer and have real Margaritas and other special drinks.”
Silva is a sports fan who loves to watch tennis and soccer especially.
The Tornel family has also looked into valet parking for the corner, as well as special chauffeuring for people who may have had too much to drink.
“It will be amazing,” Silva said. She said the bar will stay opened during renovations, and they plan to take over in a matter of weeks. Some of the same employees could stay on, and they hope to keep the “regulars” at the Starlite.
Meanwhile, Herring said, “I wont’ be going anywhere too soon.”
Marlo invites everyone to come in this weekend to kick off the new place, and see what it's now become.