Santa Monica Lookout
Without The Shack, Philadelphia Sports Fans without Home in Santa Monica
By Jason Islas
September 20, 2013 -- Early autumn on the corner of 26th Street and Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica was a lively place whenever the Philadelphia Eagles took the field or the Phillies were up at bat.
For 20 years, fans of all things Philadelphia, from the town's sports teams to its signature cheese-steak sandwich, flocked to The Shack in mid-city Santa Monica to catch games and socialize with expats from and fans of the Rust Belt city.
But this September, as the Phillies' season winds down and football season gets started, where there once would have been a throng of rowdy sports fans cheering and jeering along with the ebb and flow of the game, there is only silence.
The blue, squat building sits empty -- brown paper blocking out the windows and a lock on the door -- since June when the owners closed up shop and headed back east.
“I guess it's (expletive) closed,” said Ted. He stood beneath The Shack's chintzy sign, depicting the bar's name surrounded by palm trees.
Ted, a Philadelphia native, was on a quest to find a place to watch the Eagles play the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday.
Ted, who wore black sunglasses and a faded Eagles t-shirt, said he had just started a job in Culver City and had searched the Internet for a place to watch the game.
According to Google, The Shack was the place. But, no longer.
Friday, the Phillies are scheduled to play the New York Mets and once again, Santa Monica-based fans of the team hoping to watch the game with others will have to find another venue.
Local blogger and former Lookout columnist Frank Gruber -- a transplant from Philadelphia and “rabid fan” of the Phillies,according to his Huffington Post profile -- said he used to frequent the bar to watch his home baseball team play.
“It was kind of funky,” he said. “But it was also wide open and it was easy to watch the games.”
In fact, Gruber said, he was at the bar during a very special moment.
“I was there when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008,” he said. “It was a very emotional day for me.”
The team's 2008 victory was only the team's second World Series win. The team's first win, in 1980, happened six years after Gruber moved to California.
It's clear that over the years, The Shack became a gathering place for a community. A cursory glance at The Shack's “official” Facebook page reveals an outpouring of people wishing the owners well and lamenting the bar's closure.
“Best wishes to you Pat and Janet!!!” wrote one patron on May 31, the last day the bar was open.
“It's Friday, it's sunny, it's 80 degrees and all I want to do is drink beer on the back deck of The Shack!” wrote another former patron in August, three months after the bar closed down.
As of Thursday, an official notice hung in the front window, announcing the intention of the new owner to overhaul the building's exterior.
The notice lists a phone number that directs callers to the home office of The Counter, a restaurant that lets patrons build their own burgers.
The “Coming Soon” section on The Counter's website shows plans for the restaurant to expand into Dubai and Saudi Arabia, but it doesn't list The Shack's old address.
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