Noypitz Bar-Restaurant has Launched itself in the Orbit of The Filipino-American Community in Los Angeles
By Francis Johann Verdote
AT Noypitz’s grand opening last January 15, I was reminded of a dictum an acquaintance told me during our final exam. He told me “Early is on time, and on time is late.” He referred to the students who were still not in the classroom. Since then the saying had been stuck in my head like chewing gum under tables.
So with the motto in my head, I found myself standing outside, 20 minutes before 6:00pm, the new Filipino bar and restaurant. At the entrance, a staff-in-charge stopped and asked me, “Do you have a reservation or an invite?” I answered with a “No.” “There’s a $25 entrance fee if you don’t have an invitation,” said the staff person I spoke with.
Thank God or Buddha or Krishna or Allah or Darwin for the words “I work for a newspaper” and “I’m a member of the press” as it got me beyond Noypitz’s gate and podium. Inside I was to experience the celebration of Noypitz’s official induction to the general public.
As I walk past the attendants, several people busied themselves with their own private matters. The smell of spilled wine lingered in the patio. There were people with their DSLRs chatting and sipping their wine. Other people erected a backdrop where guests and visitors have their pictures taken.
Inside the restaurant, except for the people at the bar and the busy event organizers, tables and other guests were half-empty. The bar was alive; the bartenders were busy, as visitors got intoxicated.
The new addition to Noypitz’s repertoire was the now functioning wine closet. The first few times I was at Noypitz, the wine closet was just an empty closet with rows of shelving and wine racks.
The clock struck six and spectators were slow to arrive and a choral group was still polishing their set. I waited for the show to begin. As I waited my vision was overstimulated by the 14 HD television sets around the restaurant. Everything I saw on the television looked like clips, footages, and photos, even though they were either a live coverage of the Golden Globes or the PAC 12.
I sat at the bar and ordered a bottle of Red Horse and the all-time favorite Filipino pulutan, sisig. I noticed as I waited for my food and drink two Roman pillars standing tall at the end of a 5-step staircase. From the looks of it, the area was a lounge where performers and/or VIPs could mingle; the spot was secluded from the rest of the restaurant and had a tiny walkway that lead to the stage.
A few minutes before 7:00pm people began to fill-up the reserved tables. Outside a short line had formed as the attendants checked and cleared the names of visitors. Later that night, the management had had to reject walk-ins as the restaurant reached its seating capacity. At that time, an ant colony looked more organized than the anxious people inside Noypitz.
Anyway, as I feasted on my sisig and beer I saw a male guest walking back with four empty wine bottles. I thought, only a man so depressed or troubled could empty out those wine bottles.
The bartenders worked harder as people ordered their drinks. But every time the bartenders mixed a drink or opened a beer bottle, it seemed as if everything they did were an artwork they created.
Intoxication and alcoholic references aside, Noypitz’s grand opening was a G-Rated family event. People of all ages breathed the Noypitz air for the next four hours or so. Toddlers, siblings, parents, and grandparents enjoyed the food, entertainment, and each other’s company. Laughter and bowls of rice were passed around the individual tables.
While Hollywood folks gathered and honored themselves at the Golden Globes, the Filipino-American community congregated on the corner of Glenoaks Boulevard and Brand Boulevard.
In a blink of an eye, people’s images were sucked in tubes and transported from plates of mirrors. Flashes blind other people from other tables, as guests began to show their trigger-happy tendencies. Photographers indiscriminately took photos of the attendees; some wore gaudy clothes, while others were either fashionistas or fashion victims. There were, however, a few people that entered the restaurant with a come-as-you-are attitude.
Typically, show bands or cover bands are a sideshow to a restaurant’s main objective, which is to provide food and drinks to customers. A cover band is no different than listening to the radio, CDs, records, or Ipods while having dinner. Only a few people from a crowd will listen intently to a cover band’s music, even though it is not really their music.
The Noypitz grand opening was not exempted from this cover band stereotype. The cover band that performed filled in the moments when customers either chewed or swallowed their food. Indiscriminate murmuring from the crowd resounded in between songs.
But not all performers, artists, and entertainers were left as a sideshow. Veteran musicians and performers such as Joey Albert, Miguel Vera, Jo Awayan, and Introvoys graced the Noypitz stage, and were welcomed by the dining audience with sheer nostalgia. Most of them performed music they were known for in the Philippines.
In between performances, the emcee raffled out tungsten bracelets, diamond pendants, and pointand-shoot digital cameras – all courtesy of the event’s sponsors.
I stepped out of the restaurant and walked around the patio, and there I overheard a few people talking about how crowded the restaurant was the whole weekend. But as they conversed I wondered “Why do Filipinos talk in English with each other when deep inside they know they’d rather converse in Tagalog?”
Was it to fit in with the general American public? Or were they trying to show how well versed they were in English with other Filipino expatriates? I do not know. I do not have the answers in my pockets, but what I do “knowtice” is that alcohol aid some Filipinos speak in English as if it were their first language.
Nonetheless, Noypitz had successfully launched itself in the wide orbit of the Filipino-American community in Los Angeles.
In a way Noypitz has created a spot in Los Angeles that can compete with the more upscale Fil-Am bars and restaurants in Cerritos and Artesia.
I left Noypitz at some point of the night. As I walked towards my car, the lingering sound of a band singing Mike Hanopol’s “Laki sa Layaw” followed my steps. And for some ineffable reason I found the song highly fitting as the night skies usher in a new day.