The Lighthouse file photo 2018

Tom Norman performs at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach in this 2018 file photo. The iconic jazz club has been sold to a group of investors. (Photo by Michael Hixon)

The Lighthouse Cafe has been a mainstay of jazz in Hermosa Beach for more than 70 years, with legendary artists such as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Chet Baker performing at the iconic club that also served as a setting for the 2016 musical “La La Land,” starring Ryan Gosling.

And for the past 40 years, owner Paul Hennessey has been at the helm of the historic jazz club by the sand at 30 Pier Ave.

But now, with the Lighthouse closed for nearly a year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Hennessey has made the tough decision of selling his club in order to save it.

Hennessey, who founded the Hennessey’s Tavern chain in 1976, said he sold the Lighthouse to a group of investors who will keep it operating as a live music venue while maintaining its famous name and exterior with plans to reopen as soon as March.

“The main thing is that it is still the Lighthouse, it will keep on the tradition and it will still have entertainment, as much as we had, or maybe more,” he said.

Because live music has always been the Lighthouse’s mainstay, Hennessey hasn’t opened the doors to his club since March. And with bills piling up, he saw this as the best way to preserve the venue.

“The overhead is still there, the rent is still there so I had a group of investors that wanted to get involved. But the main thing for me was that it has to stay the Lighthouse, which it is,”  Hennessey said, noting that he will remain on as a consultant indefinitely, helping to book bands once live music returns.

Among the new partners in the business are Redondo Beach resident Josh Royal, who works in restaurant operations and marketing and Lee Farrell, who was most recently the general manager of Laurel Tavern in Hermosa Beach.

Royal didn’t want to share too many details on the sale but said they have plans to spruce up some things a bit.

“We’re putting our focus on the cocktail program and the food because at this point it’s what we’re allowed to do. We just received approval for outdoor dining, we’re planning on submitting for an extension area for the patio and we’ll bring back the live music as soon as it’s allowed,” Royal said.

Hennessey said selling the Lighthouse has been one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make, but it was something he felt he had to do to save one of the city’s most notable landmarks.

“This pandemic hasn’t been wonderful for anybody, but as long as it survives as the Lighthouse I’m happy,” he said.

Contact Lisa Jacobs or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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