You’d be forgiven for thinking The Wolves is a relic from the turn of the century. The downtown L.A. watering hole has the definite look and feel of a step back in time. Heck, even the Los Angeles Date Ideas website listed the place as one of the city’s “coolest vintage bars,” noting it has been “meticulously restored and decorated to its early 20th Century glory days.”
Despite what the arched stained glass ceiling, 1920s-era mahogany booths and location on the ground floor of the historic Alexandria Hotel would have you believe, the establishment is actually a more recent addition to the DTLA drinking scene. The brainchild of restauranteurs Al Almeida and Daniel Salin, and managing partner Isaac Mejia, The Wolves opened its doors less than three years ago in September 2018.
The site’s dated look is no accident. Salin explained to LA Downtowner, “As soon as we walked into this space we knew we wanted to make a bar that felt like it had been here for a hundred years . . . We kept the patina on everything. We didn’t want Disneyland. We wanted edgier. I describe it as ‘dilapidated opulence.’”
In reimagining the once non-descript space at 519 S. Spring St., which formerly housed F Square Printing, a business center/art gallery/karaoke venue, Almeida and Salin certainly had their work cut out for them. The painstaking three-year process, during which the two scoured the globe for antique artifacts to outfit the interior, became a labor-of-love undertaking that was well documented on The Wolves’ Instagram feed.
While the Batchelder tiles that cover the floor are original to the site, the wooden front doors and globe lamposts hail from Argentina. The mahogany booths that line the eatery’s south side formerly belonged to a restaurant in Seneca, New York. Al and Daniel flew to the East Coast to pick up the seating, driving their score back to L.A. themselves, stopping along the way at various spots to procure additional antiques to serve as décor. The result of their cross-country efforts is an aesthetic that is almost as meticulously crafted as the cocktails served onsite.