The “pop-up” venue has been around long enough to have worn out its novelty, but a few creative entrepreneurs still have found ways make the enterprise novel. Here’s the schtick: find an empty run down, but relatively safe, warehouse/storefront/gas station/barn/post office and transform the space into a hottest trend in restaurants/gastropubs/wine bars/nostalgic experiences. This latest adventure, Scum and Villainy, combines one of pop culture’s most iconic settings, the Star Wars universe, with the atmosphere of a trendy urban watering hole. If you’re familiar with the original Lucas film, you’ll have no trouble recognizing this little slice of Tatooine set occupying a back alley along Hollywood Boulevard. The Scum and Villainy Cantina is a spot on recreation of the nastiest seediest scoundrel recruitment center in the entire galaxy–in the best ways possible.
This pop-up experience was made for nerds like me: I’m old enough to have sat in the theater for the original trilogy, I casually collect the memorabilia, and I still line up for whatever new Star Wars film the studios drop in front of me. This was an easy sell for my friends and I.
First, if you’re the type of guy or gal that speaks Aurebesh and does weekend deployment with the 501st Legion, you may be a bit disappointed. This pop-up cantina is not “officially” licensed by Disney or Lucas Films, so some of the fine detail you’re looking for may be missing. However, if you’re willing to overlook the missing X-34 Landspeeder out front, you’re in for an enjoyable time. Once inside, the look and feel set designer Roger Christian gave Episode IV is to be found throughout the bar. The private tables have the arabian horseshoe arches where Han Solo and Chewbacca sipped, whatever scoundrels sip, while negotiating their next smuggle. Behind the bar, aluminum canisters shine like the heads of disassembled droids. And while the experience was missing a live cantina band, the club atmosphere was punctuated by a good selection of appropriately “space themed” music. Throw in a valiant costuming effort by both patrons and staff, and the Scum and Villainy Cantina makes for a memorable couple hours at the pub…and a bit of time travel into your childhood.
Reservations are a must for your first visit, so don’t forget to visit their website for available times. At first I thought the $50 charge (there is a cheaper $25 no drink option) was a quite steep for the two hours inside it buys you, but when you factor in the quality swag and the two drink tickets, it actually turns out to be quite a bargain. There is a food menu, but it is the one thing I’d recommend skipping on your trip into hyperspace. Items are reasonably priced but they taste like it–stale nachos and frozen tater tots are the highlights. Aside from the subpar kitchen items there was much to compliment: the staff was exceptional, the special drink selections were well crafted, and the two hour limit kept the crowd to a minimum and comfortable size. This is definitely the Star Wars bar you’re looking for.
Scum and Villainy Cantina, per their website, are taking reservations through the month of July.