A letter from Lyric Hyperion’s Owner-Founder, Alan Becker:
A community arts center like this takes lots of work and lots of love to keep alive. I ran it myself daily for a dozen years – built that patio deck with my bare hands! (Okay, I had work gloves.) Then in the past couple years I handed the baton to trusted operators to carry on our mission as my tenants, with my ongoing advice and support. Well, the recent operators left. At this point, I don’t have the resources to personally step back in again and manage the day-to-day. So we’re putting out the word to find the next keepers of the Lyric Hyperion flame!
We have always been very proud to get the strong support of all our neighbors and fellow artists around Silver Lake and greater Los Angeles. What the Lyric Hyperion hasn’t gotten in all these years is a single dime of grant money. That’s why we revived and rejuvenated the restaurant aspect by creating the Lyric Café in our lobby and patio, and worked hard to obtain the chance to add fine wines and beers to our menu. So now there’s great potential for an experienced restaurateur who takes over.
As you all know, the Lyric Hyperion is a wonderful, magical place, and the right operator can make a huge success of it. We just need to find that person!
This time, we’re going wide with the search for the next proprietors — If you or a friend are interested in the opportunity to carry on the Lyric Hyperion’s mission in your own way, please look at our real estate listings:
What would you be looking at as the latest lord or lady of the Lyric?
The Lyric Hyperion Theater & Café has presented the performing arts since 1989. (Before that it was the Frog Pond Restaurant.) In those 32 years, we’ve been the home base at various times of Company of Angels, West Coast Ensemble, Moving Arts, Insight America, and many other respected theater companies doing plays, musicals, readings and more.
In recent years, with beer and wine, the cafe operation has contributed significantly to business revenues: averaging about $23K per month, while theater income averaged another $17K/month. If you take over, you can go on in the current vein, “Cafe by day, Theatre by night”, or you might like to build up the restaurant side, and use the big room for more dining — with occasional cabaret shows or standup, etc. Either way, you will have the love of Lyric’s large list of faithful fans to support you. There’s a lot of potential.
The Lyric has been a favored spot for standup comedians from the famous to the up and coming – Patton Oswalt, John Ennis, Pete Davidson and Kyle Mooney are a few who have graced our tiny stage. We’ve given a home to singer-songwriter nights, poetry slams, professional acting classes, improv from UCB, tap dance for tots, beloved Piano Bar nights for local singers, Sartre plays in French from the LiLa school, birthday parties, many readings of new work by local writers, puppet shows, clown shows, brand new musicals, Neighborhood Council meetings, local filmmaker screenings, CD release parties and concerts, Coffee with a Cop, and just about anything else that the people of Silver Lake and LA want to do in our space. (Except karaoke.)
And what about me?
Am I throwing up my hands and walking away from what I’ve built over 2 decades with the help of so many wonderful people? NO! But Covid kind of wiped me out financially, so I am waving my hands to get some help over here. Step up if you are qualified and inspired to run a lovely venue like the Lyric. I, and many others who have helped run this beloved venue in the past, will happily give advice, help you get started, and even join your team so you hit the ground running. We just need a new infusion of your energy and resources!
PS…You ask, what the heck happened on Hyperion?
I don’t like airing dirty laundry but many of you have asked, so I’ll try to brief you … er, briefly:
In late 2018 I turned day to day operations over to a bunch of clowns. Seriously, they were actual clowns – talented and world famous for clowning. In their first year and a half as tenants, they did bring in more theater and café annual revenues than we ever had before.
But then came Covid. With live shows locked down, our tenant-clowns unwisely chose not to continue the café either. I said, don’t worry, I would use my reserves to keep mortgage, taxes and insurance paid, so they’d have a venue to come back to. A year covering those costs myself, with zero rental income, basically ate up my life savings.
I helped my tenants apply for bailout funds, and they got hundreds of thousands from Uncle Sam. But they still refused to pay rent. They demanded to change their lease, to remove any guarantee – so there’d no longer be anyone responsible if they stop paying. I agreed to the change, on condition that the group at least commit to return to business and continue operations. They refused that condition. Basically, they said, “You give up any security backing up the lease, but in exchange we won’t even guarantee we’ll stick around to run the place for any length of time.” Well, no landlord could do such a giveaway. I said, “the lease has been fine as is, just pay some discounted rent with your bailout funds, we won’t need to bill your personal guarantors.” Instead, they took off with the money, and abandoned the premises June 1st.
Unfortunately the major Covid grants are apparently only available to the actual operator of the venue when Covid hit – in our case, the clowns’ non-profit corporation, which was my official tenant. I’ve found minimal SBA loans available for owners of small properties, but that has to be paid back on top of my mortgage, so it’s not very practical for rescuing a business.
Anyway, enough about that unpleasantness. Let’s look to the future, and get someone wonderful to carry on the Lyric Hyperion!