It goes without saying The Scarn may be frowned upon.
Drinking in Los Angeles can be a tough prospect when the combined factors of difficult parking, expensive drinks, big crowds and endless traffic come into play. But sprinkled throughout the city’s sprawling footprint is a collection of warm, inviting bars that can be classified as dive bars but are probably more accurately described as old-school lounges with slight updates here and there to keep up with the times. Chimneysweep Lounge in Sherman Oaks is one such example, hidden at the back of a small strip mall behind a row of potted plants.
The blazing white sign is the Chimneysweep Lounge’s giveaway despite the somewhat secluded setting of the porch that juts off the front of the building. Easy to miss among the block letters on the sign is the bar’s logo, a chimneysweep (shocker) that looks about as vintage as the space that dates back to 1965. The marquee attraction inside is the round fireplace that sits in the middle of the seating area, the kind of classy feature that underscores the bar’s status as more lounge than dive bar. Black padded booths stretch along one wall underneath deep, brown wood paneling.
No Los Angeles dive bar would be complete without some kind of Hollywood connection, Chimneysweep Lounge’s moment on screen found during an episode of The Office when Michael Scott screens a movie that includes a dance called “The Scarn.” The dance number was filmed at the Chimneysweep Lounge, the fireplace and padded booths central among the distinct visual elements that help place the scene within the Sherman Oaks institution.
Hanging lights surrounded by dimpled, colored glass hanging from the bar that winds through the space, the curved ledge over the bar punctuated by additional woodworking that adds to the old-school appeal. The drink selection here is extensive, adding a set of signature cocktails atop typical dive bar options. A modern tap system holds local and microbrew options for those looking for something a little less divey, everything fairly affordable by Los Angeles standards.
The balance of the seating here is along the bar where red padded stools tracing the curving outline of the structure. Around the fireplace and near the padded booths opposite the bar, low, red rolling chairs dot the space. The concentration of these chairs is often heaviest around the fireplace for obvious reasons. Decorations here are minimalist, including a handful of trophies that can be found along a ledge that runs along most of the interior space. A framed picture of, you guessed it, a chimneysweep is probably the most eye-catching piece inside Chimneysweep Lounge.
A secondary room is divided in two, an area toward the front of the building home to the bar’s pool table and another space in back devoted to a dart board and pinball machine. The patio in front is spared both wind and sun thanks to the row of potted plants that separates it from the parking lot, multi-color string lights ringing the smoker-friendly space.
Keep an eye out of the chalkboard in back with beers on tap and signature drink offerings as well as a less obvious sign just above the jukebox proclaiming that month’s dive bar community activities. Both lists are surprisingly deep as far as dive bars go, punctuated by a handful of free jukebox nights where guests are allowed three free play selections (and the long wait to hear those songs associated with such jukebox generosity).