The Sportsmen’s Lodge Event Center & Hotel have been a part of San Fernando Valley history as long as most people can remember. Whether it be a wedding, a bar or bat mitzvah, a school, sports or political event, everyone seems to have a memory to share, a story to tell. Indeed, if those walls could talk….
The original Sportsmen’s Lodge opened in the 1880s before the movie business existed and before Studio City had its name. A history of Studio City published by the Studio City Sun described the Lodge as an “enduring symbol of lost rural Valley life.”
The Sun noted that the site has had many owners since the 1880s but was “always a geographic crossroads for travelers because of its proximity to the river, the canyons, and watering holes created by a natural artesian spring.” In the days before freeways were built across the Valley, “all traffic passed along Ventura’s two dirt lanes in the sparsely populated Valley, and when people were starting to take road trips, this was an oasis at the end of the road.”
As the San Fernando Valley grew in the years after World War II, the urban sprawl sprung up around the Sportsmen’s Lodge and its trout fishing lakes. In 1962, the modern Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel was built adjacent to the original Lodge. When the hotel was built, the lakes became home to a family of swans and some of the Valley’s first fine dining establishments, frequented by legendary Hollywood stars. This is what is now commonly known as the Sportsmen’s Lodge Event Center.
In 2009, Mr. Richard Weintraub purchased the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel and Events Center, and embarked upon a multi-million dollar renovation of the Events Center. The fully remodeled Events Center is replete with two beautiful garden sites, white marble, fresh paint, winged back leather chairs, and event spaces with dance floors that shine and chandeliers that sparkle! The newly landscaped gardens, scenic walkways, cascading waterfalls, and koi ponds provide an oasis amidst the now bustling community of Studio City.
The stunning, newly-renovated facility has 10 different event spaces, which can accommodate anything from a small meeting of 25 guests, to a grand special event of over 1,000 guests, and rooms for any sized event in between. Renovations will begin next year on the adjacent, 150-room Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel.
General Manager, Laurence Whiting, joined the Sportsmen’s Lodge Events Center in late 2011. Whiting is a veteran of the events industry. A Valley native who attended North Hollywood High and Cal State Northridge, Laurence’s enthusiasm for the food industry led him to San Francisco, and the eventual launch of a successful 14-year run of Now We’re Cooking!, which became one of top five caterers in the Bay Area.
Whiting’s proudest accomplishment so far, and the latest, very exciting chapter in this rich history is the new, beautifully designed bar and restaurant, River Rock Lounge. Artisan cocktails, a great daily Happy Hour, and a beautiful outdoor dining area located adjacent to the Lodge’s famous ponds are complemented by Executive Chef Marcos Arana’s tantalizing menu of New American classics, serving lunch, dinner, and an amazing weekend brunch.
River Rock Lounge heralds a new, contemporary era for the Sportsmen’s Lodge. While maintaining the charm of the past, the renovated Events Center, now under new management, deserves a fresh look for those who may still view the Center as “My Grandpa’s Sportsmen’s Lodge.” While many “veterans” continue to hold their meetings and events at the Events Center, a new generation is discovering the beauty and sophistication of this dazzling landmark.
In particular, the River Rock Lounge has great appeal for the young and not-so-young. Offering live entertainment and Friday/Saturday DJ dance nights, you’ll often see twenty-somethings bellying up to the bar or enjoying the Lounge among more “seasoned” neighbors. Long-time celebrities, as well as the “Young Hollywood” set can often be seen in the cozy elevated dining room, or enjoying a cocktail in the Lounge.
If you haven’t been to the Sportsmen’s Lodge Event Center lately, there’s never been a better time to rediscover this classic gem.
Sportsmen’s Lodge Event Center & River Rock Lounge is located at 12833 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. For more information, call (818) 755-5000 or visit SLeventscenter.com.