Los Angeles Daily News
It was on a hike in Canada at about 12,000 feet that Bill Lynch decided to open The Write-Off Room.
Tucked inside the corner of the Warner Plaza shopping center off Ventura Boulevard, the new Woodland Hills 21-and-over nightclub – featuring live music, food, and cocktails with no cover charge – isn’t any old nightclub. It’s a venue created for musicians by a musician.
Lynch, a blues guitarist who has shared the stage with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, spent decades playing clubs between top-paying gigs. But it occurred to the Studio City-based musician during the outing with his wife, Maggie, that opening a venue could help other artists make ends meet.
“Clubs don’t pay any better today than when I was 20,” he said. “As crazy as it may sound, we’re paying the bands ourselves. We’ve done well enough that we can do this. It’s almost like having a foundation or something.”
“Only, we don’t get the write-off,” Maggie Lynch added, with a laugh.
The Write-Off Room is cozy, with bar height booths and tables scattered throughout the square space featuring a corner stage, dance floor, programmable lighting and state-of-the-art sound system plus a ceiling recessed screen and several wall-mounted monitors. Inside, the walls are decorated with a Jimi Hendrix poster, Vaughan’s union card and a painting by Lynch (who is also a competitive darts player).
Step into the ladies room and you’ll find a panoramic photo of the San Fernando Valley taken from the Lynch home alongside a poem written by Maggie Lynch in one of the stalls.
Once you’ve explored the space, order a drink.
The venue, which shares the bar with the Dirty Bull Tavern next door, offers a full drink menu created by mixologist Aidan Demarest. It includes signatures like the Cucumber Cooler, which combines cucumber mint-infused Ketel One Vodka and tonic water in a large snifter glass garnished with cucumber strips, mint and lemon zest for a crisp, refreshing summer cocktail.
“We’re in the process of adding some non-alcoholic drinks because to tell you the truth a lot of older musicians have quit drinking,” Maggie Lynch said.
Food comes in generous portions.
Servers carry out trays full of Impossible burgers, shrimp cocktails, and flatbread. And while people dig in, music (except for Monday comedy and Tuesday and Thursday karaoke) flows from the stage.
“There are so few places where you can poke your head in and listen to great music, and just hang out,” said Jim Cox, a Long Beach-based keyboardist who has recorded with Ringo Starr, Pink, Barbra Streisand, Alan Jackson and Leonard Cohen.
Depending on the night, the crowd might hear from the Bonedaddys, Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps, the Deductions or Preston Smith. First-call session players in the crowd often sit in with the bands in-residence.
And you never know who might pop in.
“The audience are all good sports because unlike a show there’s a lot of music we haven’t played together before,” said Cox as he grabbed a bite before his usual Friday night jam with the Deductions. “If nobody knows the song, there will be a little confab. And if something falls apart, we can usually nail the landing.”
The instruments are provided by Lynch so all a musician has to do is get recognized.
“I see Carl Byron,” called out drummer David Raven on stage this particular Friday night. “Want to come play some keys?”
With that, Byron, a session player from Venice, left his table for the stage.
“The caliber of people playing here is mind-blowing,” said Cheryl Bianchi, a friend of the Lynches who lives in Studio City. “That you can come into this neighborhood watering hole and see them ten-feet away for no cover is quite exceptional. The audience just loses its mind.”