Noa Noa Place Co-owner Luis Octavio makes a cocktail behind the bar. (CHAVA SANCHEZ/LAIST)

By Frank Rojas/LAist

Originally published Nov 17, 2021

The managers of El Place, formerly Noa Noa Place, took to Instagram Tuesday evening to announce what so many people in L.A.’s Latina/o LGBTQ+ community never wanted to hear: the Boyle Heights bar and restaurant is closing.

“I don’t think it’s sad for me. I think it’s more like, ‘Okay that’s the end of this chapter of this book,’” co-owner Luis Octavio said on Instagram Live. “And we just don’t have another option unfortunately.”

Octavio and his co-owners, Deysi Serrano and Donaji Esparza, said that they tried to negotiate with their landlord for lower rent but their efforts were unsuccessful.

“It is an older building with things constantly breaking down. We’ve been able to survive but at the end of the day we also want to make profit,” Octavio told LAist.

Octavio also said that as other bars and nightlife spaces reopen, competition has made it difficult for the bar to survive.

Many of those who tuned into the livestream flooded the comments section with broken hearts and crying emojis. Other patrons took to their Instagram stories sharing pictures of themselves at the bar, posing by its famous milagro heart light fixtures.

Watch the Instagram Live announcement:

What’s Next

This is not the end of El Place. The three co-owners announced that while the bar is closing, they plan to host monthly El Place parties. They are currently in talks with an L.A. venue that could host more than 500 people with a full stage and state-of-the-art sound systems.

“Not only are we going to be able to create a club atmosphere, but we’re going to be able to bring in artists to perform. We’re going to be able to have a lot more presence,” Octavio says.

Presence is also something El Place helped establish last June when they co-hosted Orgullo Fest, the first ever Boyle Heights Pride event. It will be returning next year.

The bittersweet announcement comes after El Place (originally Noa Noa Place after the Juan Gabriel song) recently celebrated its first anniversary.

While the COVID-19 pandemic affected many bars and restaurants, especially ones owned by and catering to people of color, El Place was able to gradually open to the public. By late spring, they had found some normalcy and were able to fully open. The bar and pizzeria soon became a second home for many members of L.A.’s Latina/o LGBTQ+ community.

“It’s such an amazing space. Yes, we’re going to miss it for a while,” Octavio said as he closed up the Instagram Live. “But bigger and better things are coming.”

El Place will host its final night this Sunday. After that, one more venue dedicated to LBGTQ+ people of color will shut its doors.

This report is reprinted with permission from Southern California Public Radio. © 2021 Southern California Public Radio. All rights reserved.

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