Bringing Chic to LA Nightlife: Industry Influencer John Terzian

If you’ve been out in Los Angeles, chances are you’ve been to one of his venues. You may have even seen him, but you may not have guessed.

Why? Because John Terzian isn’t the stereotypical nightclub owner. He’s not loud or flashy or begging to be the center of attention. He’s usually going from table to table to visit friends and make sure everyone feels welcome, checking his phone to help make sure everyone has a great night (even if they’re not one of the celebrities that frequent his spots) and watching. John lets his venues speak for themselves and prefers the focus to be on the flow of the room and having a great time.

john3John and the team at the H.Wood Group have had success with venues Las Palmas, Bootsy Bellows (LA & Aspen), SHOREbar, Hooray Henry’s (shortened to Henry’s after a remodel), The Nice Guy, Blind Dragon, and Heart of Omnia in Las Vegas.

So what do all of these places have in common? What is his “secret ingredient for success?” The sophisticated style that John brings — they’re well thought out, the type of design that doesn’t look designed. Stylish but not fussy, and that reflects John as a person.

Luckily, John carved out some time to talk to me about what inspires him, his own experience with DIY, his formula for making his venues a cut above the rest, and the unexpected places he’s started designing.

RR: When did you become interested in art and design?

John: I probably started drawing when I was 5 or 6. I would draw on the walls, like figures and everything, and ironically it’s what I’ve stayed with my whole life. My specialty was portraiture. And design, the part I’m interested in, is very art related. Like when I see a room, I kind of see each place as a picture, and then filled with people, it’s even better. That’s where my whole love of the design world comes from– my love of art.

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Picture perfect SHOREbar.

RR: Didn’t you get into college for art?

John: I did but I didn’t end up doing it because I didn’t think I wanted to be an artist for a living. But what I do now combines both loves– business and art.

I got into Michigan, USC, and Otis for art. My high school had an amazing special program for art. All I did my junior and senior year was art and art history. I ended up visiting Michigan, their art program is amazing, and I ended up going to SC and not doing art. Even to this day, I still do it on the side for fun. It’s almost like a relaxation thing for me.

RR: Have you always had a part in designing your venues?

John: When I started my first ones, obviously, you have very little budget and kind of do things yourself. It’s a major reason I got into owning places– because I love taking a space (venue) and changing it into something else or creating it brand new. Whatever it may be, it’s all considered art to me.

I don’t think I’d ever consider myself a designer. I pay extra attention to details of things, and that’s kind of where you separate yourself in my business. In the last 4 projects that I have, I’ve worked with a great designer/ builder, John Sofio at Built. We kind of collaborate and it is a great working relationship. Our first project together was Bootsy Bellows then we went on to do SHOREbar, Henry’s, and Blind Dragon.

And then we went outside of my venues– we did a gas station on Sunset and we’re designing one on Lincoln now.

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Tables at SHOREbar. I love this photo!

RR: Gas stations are pretty unusual for someone who owns nightclubs and restaurants to work on. How did you get involved in designing gas stations together?

John: The owner of the gas station is a member at SHOREBar. We talked a lot about his gas station; he wasn’t sure if he wanted to sell it or to increase business. I said, “I’m a big believer in ‘build it and they will come’ mindset. I have it for my venues as well. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but my thing is if you design a place right, people will come. And I think that will relate to a gas station. No one has ever made a cool gas station.”

I love old general store/ gas station pictures. It’s very Americana, think Texas gas stations. His station is on PCH directly across the street from another gas station. So I thought, why don’t we design it kind of like we did SHOREbar, a Nantucket style. It took months of convincing him, then you’ve got to convince the gas station company. Then you have to submit all of these renderings. So John (Sofio) and I created it, and it does significantly more business now. It does 20% more sales after the redesign.

RR: How was doing the gas station different than a club or restaurant?

John: Overall pretty similar. The major difference it that a club or restaurant has a very specific need, which is a major part of where I come in (and why I couldn’t feel comfortable having a designer design a place and I just come into it) because these places take on a life of their own. You have no crystal ball, no way of knowing where people will gravitate to… what seats will do well, or how the lighting works. You have nothing until you open it. So you have to be flexible and have the space ready to adapt and tweak … that’s the major difference in designing a space, it is what it is with a gas station. It looks great, it’s good, you don’t have to worry about how the crowd works in there.

That’s where a lot of places go wrong. Just because you hire a designer doesn’t mean the place is going to look right. It might look right on paper, it might look right on a rendering but every single place where I’ve opened, especially the ones that are the last couple of years, the designing isn’t done until at least a month in. Like we are well into the Nice Guy and we’re still tweaking it. That’s how you should do it.

The Nice Guy.
The Nice Guy. I love the vintage fabric covering the booths!

RR: Have you had any big design mistakes or do you wish you’d done anything differently?

John: The original layout of Hooray Henry’s. A big part of what I do (my part design-wise) is that I anticipate the flow of people and the flow was horrible in there, which is why we changed it all. That was probably the biggest mistake I’ve made.

There was also a mistake at Las Palmas. I’m a big believer in having different levels and Las Palmas was all flat surface– no step ups, nothing.

Henry's after the remodel.
Henry’s after the remodel.

RR: Can you tell us about your DIY experience?

John: I was really hands on with everything at Las Palmas, but I’ve done something in each place on a do-it-yourself level. I’ve painted walls, I’ve wallpapered even.

I wanted to have a cluster of lights like something by Julian Schnabel in Las Palmas. I recreated that out of, I think,100 light bulbs from Home Depot and other Hardware shops. I got the bulbs and was hanging them from the ceiling and had to put it together at the top. It was a nightmare. It was probably an electrical nightmare, but it worked really well.

The bar at The Nice Guy.
The bar at The Nice Guy. No electrical nightmares here!

RR: Any DIY disasters?

John: Before even opening Blind Dragon, we did the entire center furniture twice. I wanted to create a hotel lobby like seating where it is two couches back to back, so I had to have them made and they turned out horrible. They got brought in, and it took up the whole room, they were the wrong color, the fabric was wrong. Big disaster, we had to scramble. I’ve had a million disasters.

Also, I tried staining cement and it wouldn’t take. It turned the cement from black to where it just looked like mud. It was weird.

The main room at The Blind Dragon. Looks like they got the booths fixed!
The main room at Blind Dragon. Looks like they got the booths fixed. The ceiling is incredible.

RR: Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

John: Film and music videos. All types. I get a lot of inspiration from music videos because music videos are predominately run, especially now, by upstart artists and directors and peole who are hungry to make a name for themselves, so they do very cool artistic things. Some of the most prolific set pieces come from people who are doing music videos, then they go on to be big directors… for that moment, they’ve done an amazing thing.

People who are hungry. Cool art.

Speaking of music, this is where you enter the private karaoke rooms at The Blind Dragon.
Speaking of music, this is where you enter the private karaoke rooms at Blind Dragon.

RR:What is your favorite thing (item or detail) of any of your venues?

John: My grandma’s key collection is in the member’s section of SHOREbar. It’s an amazing collection.

View of the bar at ShoreBar.
View of the bar at SHOREbar.

RR: What is your design pet peeve?

John: Anything contrived. I even find myself doing it, and when I do, I have my own pet peeve on myself. A contrived designed look. If it looks designed, I hate it. If it doesn’t come off natural, I hate it. I’m crazy about it. I have a lot of pet peeves, but that’s the main one.

RR: How has your style evolved?

John: It’s more simple, a lot cleaner. I’m assuming that will change, too, because everyone goes through periods, but if I had it my way, I would have a room with one chair in it right now type of thing. I’m sure that will change because I used to like the opposite– very stacked.

RR: What is the first thing you notice when you step into a space?

John: Lighting. Pockets of light– good or bad. And Corners– if they look unfinished or sparse in a bad way.

RR: Advice for someone starting out on a project?

John: Don’t listen to anyone. If you love it, you just do it. When there are too many opinions, you’ll never get it right.

What I do is I design the thing and I do it. I can kind of do that now, I used to not be able to. Then we take in opinions and change and modify. That’s always helpful. But if you start out and you have 50 opinions and 50 ways of doing something, it’s a disaster. If you have the eye and you really love it, you’ve gotta kinda do it, and you have to have the stomach to do it.

At dinner with John and his fiancé at The Nice Guy.
At dinner with John and his fiancé at The Nice Guy.

I had a great time interviewing John and hearing about his take on style, inspiration and what makes a place successful. His venues reflect his philosophy: they feel effortless chic, they are stylish but not fussy, and that allows everyone to relax and have fun. No wonder they are so popular!

Be on the lookout for the many exciting things coming soon from John and his team!

Photos from H.Wood Group or personal.


Day Trip to Alexandria, VA

During my trip to DC, a couple of different people mentioned that the nearby town of Alexandria, VA is a great place to find antiques. I decided to make a day of it and went over first thing in the morning.

First things first, I didn’t do much research on which stores I would want to check out. People said, “oh, just go to Old Town, there is stuff everywhere!” So I asked to be dropped off “in Old Town, where all of the antique stores are.” Not the best plan. While the Uber driver in DC dropped me off right in front of my favorite stores in Georgetown, this driver just dropped me off on the main drag. There were no antique stores in sight. I started googling. Finally, I realized I was only a couple of blocks away from the good stuff, so I set out walking.

Each antique store I came to seemed to have signs that said “by appointment or by chance.” It was raining, I was disheartened and was about to give up, but decided to go just a couple more blocks just to see. Boy am I glad I did!

City Hall
Took this as I walked past City Hall during my quest for stores that were actually open.

Even though I only found four antique stores all day, I had a great time. My favorite stores were Spurgeon-Lewis Antiques, The Hour and Trojan Antiques.

First I went into Spurgeon-Lewis Antiques. They had great stuff– high quality antiques mixed with the kind of unique finds that really make a space special. It was a decorator’s dream. I love that they’re on 1stDibs so I can keep up with their inventory from home. They were super friendly and told me where to find some more shops and urged me to check out the church across the street, where George Washington used to worship.

Here are my favorite items from them:

Spurgeon-Lewis Antiques
This eagle banner was really pretty. I could see it above a door or hanging on a wall in an office or library. Loved the green color of this lantern. I was obsessed with this mirror and would have bought it on the spot if it would have even remotely fit into my home decor. It was from Italy around 1805.

Side note: here is the church!

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The Hour is a cute store on the main drag that carries all kinds of bar accessories and cool vintage glasses (get it– happy hour is the hour.) I love a good cocktail, so it’s no wonder I loved this shop. Here are some of my favorite finds:

The Hour
The set on the top was my very favorite thing. Since I grew up in a “horse town” in South Carolina, I couldn’t resist a stealing a shot of these cute equine glasses. Love a penguin martini shaker!

Toward the end of the day, I found Trojan Antiques. This store isn’t a looker right when you walk in, but it is definitely worth looking through. Each case is stuff from different dealers so there is a ton of variety. I ended up spending almost 2 hours in there. They had TONS of vintage jewelry, all kinds of silver and quirky items like Mickey Mouse watches, toys, and vintage medicines. Very cool!

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Lots of salt and pepper shakers. Loved this grenade lighter! I thought it would make a great gift. Bottom left is an assortment of old “cures” or medicines with watches on the shelf below. Bottom left is a vintage Avon perfume/ cologne shaped like a Mae West gas pump.
Trojan Antiques 2
The earrings were really unique. Loved these enamel and silver spoons. I think they could look great polished up. This bracelet was one of the priciest things I saw at almost $1200. Loved this necklace.

At the end of the day, I realized I had forgotten to eat lunch, so I headed back down toward the water and stopped in at the Fish Market Restaurant for happy hour. I ended up getting local oysters and peel and eat shrimp and was a happy girl.

All in all, I would go back to Alexandria for antiquing. If you check out Alexandria, make sure to avoid my mistake and call ahead to make sure shops are open.

Spurgeon-Lewis Antiques is located at 112 N Columbus St, Alexandria, VA 22314 (also on 1st Dibs)

The Hour is located at 1015 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Trojan Antiques is located at 1100 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Antiquing in Washington DC

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Washington DC for a trip. Everyone thought I was crazy because I was just as excited to check out antiques as I was to go to museums. I really think you get a different kind of feel for a place by checking out the furniture and accessories that are available! For example, LA has a totally different feel from SC, and DC is totally different from both. The furniture reflects the culture, and to me, antique shops are just as  valuable as museums.
Here are some highlights from my trip:

I started out in the Georgetown neighborhood of DC. The nerd that I am, seeing the university was on my to-do list, and I heard the shopping in the neighborhood was great. I lucked out with a great Uber driver who dropped me off right in front of Frank Milwee Antiques.

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These are my favorite things from Frank Milwee. They had so much beautiful stuff, and it was really interesting to look at everything. I love the glass wear because I have a set that is almost exactly like it. Actually, it is my set is first thing I bought as I was transitioning from vintage clothes to vintage home items (and how Roadside Rehab was born!) The inlay box was so intricate and I loved that the design carried on to the inside. The tiny chair was so lovely and I can just imagine a small child sitting in it in days gone by.

My next stop was Cherub Antiques Gallery. (There is another dealer in the back half of the store: definitely worth checking out.)

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I absolutely loved this “martini spike” vermouth dispenser. I think it would make an incredible gift. The top right photo is a Victorian Spinx Centerpiece from 1870s London. If you read regularly, you probably know that I love anything that speaks of Egyptian revival. The bud vase on the bottom just spoke to me. I feel like it is pretty rare to find a lot of Art Nouveau stuff on shelves around Los Angeles (and shop owners friendly enough to take everything out and explain it to you like they did at Cherub!) They had a reproduction of the original catalog that sold the vase– very cool!

Later that afternoon, I went to the National Gallery of Art and saw some really cool stuff. I actually got kicked out at the end of the day because I just wasn’t ready to go! LOL

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Of course, I find a museum with a furniture exhibit. The furniture is from an exhibit called Masterpieces of American Furniture from the Kaufman Collection: 1700-1830. This chair was so lovely, and the detail in the paint is exquisite. Lately, I have gotten a little obsessed with antique game tables, and this one is truly worthy of a spot in an art museum.

The sculpture is Degas. I wanted to show you because there is really hair, tulle, and canvas incorporated into the sculpture. It was beautiful but kind of eerie You can see pieces of hair sticking out of her head.

The bird is from around 1200 and is made out of metal and enamel. I am so impressed by the detail and craftsmanship and probably stood looking at it for 20 minutes.

The next day, I headed out to Alexandria, VA. I saw so much cool stuff that Alexandria deserves a separate post. Be on the lookout later in the week.

I hope you enjoyed the highlights from DC!

Georgetown Campus!
Georgetown Campus!

Frank Milwee Antiques is at 2912 M St NW Washington, DC 20007

Cherub Antiques Gallery is at 2918 M St NW Washington, DC 20007 



DIY Custom Computer Case for $5

My laptop has had the same boring clear case since I got it. I figured it was time for an upgrade, but didn’t want to pay for a whole new shell when I have a perfectly good one. I’m about to tell you how I completely changed the look of my old case for under $5!

First, I went to Paper Source and picked up this wrapping paper. It is a map of Paris Monuments.

Map of Paris

Next, I put my clear case over the map to see which parts I wanted to use. I knew I wanted Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower.


After I positioned the cases, I used my craft blade to cut out the pieces I would be using. If you don’t have a craft blade, you can just trace the shape in pencil then cut it out.

After I cut out the pieces, I applied Modge Podge to the back (I attached the paper to the outside of my case) and then simply put it on the case.
I used a tool from Modge Podge to smooth out the paper from the center in order to avoid bubbling. It’s kinda like a mini-crafty-squeegee.


I let the case dry overnight (because I got distracted… You really only need to wait about an hour.)


Then I realized I wanted the grippy part on the bottom of the case exposed so my laptop wouldn’t slide around. I carefully cut around the area with my craft blade. Next time, I would do it before actually attaching the paper because I couldn’t get it quite perfect.


Finally, I applied a couple of coats of Modge Podge to the exterior of the paper, waiting a couple of hours in between coats.


I love it! I think it looks more like a cute little notebook or journal than a laptop! And the best part is that you can totally transform your old case with whatever you like for just a few bucks!


If you don’t have Modge Podge sitting around, it costs between $5-$10 and you can just get a cheapy brush to apply the glue and use a credit card to smooth out the bubbles.