Wednesday, January 22, 2020

“Upscale dive bar” The Block Bar & Grill opens in former Oscar’s Tejon spot

Posted By on Wed, Jan 22, 2020 at 8:06 PM

click to enlarge COURTESY THE BLOCK
  • Courtesy The Block

The former Oscar’s Tejon Street at 333 S. Tejon St., which briefly operated as the rebranded Midtown Grill towards its end, has reopened under new ownership as The Block Bar & Grill.

Co-owners Benjamin Pate and Derek Sunde are leasing the space from Oscar’s founder/chef Phil Duhon, with an option to later buy. Duhon’s longtime head chef Steven Quinones has stayed on, and with Derek (a faithful Oscar’s patron) and his wife Stacey’s input, co-designed an all-new menu save for oysters that honor Oscar’s’ legacy. It features burgers, tacos, sandwiches, apps, soups and salads, and a few entrées like fish and chips.

“We aren’t trying to be a restaurant,” says Pate, who also owns and engineering consulting firm that he operates in Texas in three-week-on-three-week-off cycles. “We’re more of an upscale dive bar with a diverse menu.” The team has added more big-screen TVs, another pool table, a juke box, and given the place a significant decor face-lift to distinguish it from its predecessors.

click to enlarge Former Wobbly Olive co-owner Philip Arana is designing the bar menu. - COURTESY THE BLOCK
  • Courtesy The Block
  • Former Wobbly Olive co-owner Philip Arana is designing the bar menu.

Lead bartender Philip Arana, celebrated mixologist and former co-owner for Allusion Speakeasy and The Wobbly Olive, has designed The Block’s cocktail menu, noting that their concept is “to pay homage to the Springs of our youth... the late 90s and the turn of a millennium... the classics of a dying time... the downtown experiences of yesterday.”

Arana says he's launching with a remedial craft cocktail menu to train the staff up but once they're comfy and dialed in, he'll do a spring and summer update that'll be "all new and exciting." In addition, look for 20 beer drafts ranging from domestics and imports to local craft labels, plus daily 4-7 p.m. happy hours.

As for the spot's name, Pate says "it's down the block from the rest of the bars, and our logo depicts our corner orientation on the block."

click to enlarge The Block's owners did a fairly extensive cosmetic remodel to revamp the former Oscar's space. - COURTESY THE BLOCK
  • Courtesy The Block
  • The Block's owners did a fairly extensive cosmetic remodel to revamp the former Oscar's space.

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