The Hammer Museum plans to open its cafe to the public, expand the cafe’s hours and sell a greater variety of liquor in the near future.
The Westwood Neighborhood Council unanimously voted Wednesday to approve the museum’s request to extend its cafe’s operating hours from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. The council also approved the museum’s plans to open the cafe to the public, rather than only museum patrons, and sell a full line of alcohol, according to its project description.
Additionally, the council approved the museum’s requests to remove the requirement that special events be “invite-only” and remove the valet parking requirement for special events. The Hammer also plans to renovate and expand the museum by 2020, increasing the exhibition space by 60 percent.
The cafe is usually closed for events that take place later in the evening, but the extended hours would allow the cafe to be open for all programming, according to Henry Clancy, the museum’s director of operations.
Clancy said in an email he hopes the plans will attract the UCLA community and greater Los Angeles community to the Hammer. He added he hopes the changes will make the Hammer’s services similar to those of other prominent museums in the area, such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“The modifications will allow us to keep up with our peer institutions (like LACMA) in offering the type of visitor amenities museum patrons expect throughout Los Angeles,” Clancy said.
Council Vice President Sandy Brown said she thinks the changes will attract visitors, families, students and community members. She added she thinks it will improve Westwood’s nightlife, but not as a new drinking destination.
“We think that the Hammer is a wonderful museum for our community, and we think that they will be responsible in extending their liquor license for more than just wine and beer,” Brown said. “(The extended selection of alcohol) will be there to complement your meal.”
Council President Lisa Chapman said she thinks the changes will make the museum more accessible to people who are not touring its exhibitions.
However, Chapman said she does not think the museum will be a nightlife spot because it is quiet and intimate.
Students had mixed reactions on whether the new changes would enhance Westwood nightlife or make the Hammer more popular with students.
Kristie Liu, a third-year biochemistry student, said she thinks the restaurant’s extended hours might make it more convenient to visit the Hammer at night. She added she thinks some of her friends might be interested in the cafe as a nightlife option.
“It would be a new possibility for people who want something different than just a bar,” Liu said.
Other students said they think the changes would not affect the area’s nightlife.
“(The extended hours) would not affect my visit, because I am not going to a museum for wine,” said Maya Schnall, a second-year psychobiology student. “I don’t think it would affect nightlife much, because it’s only open until 11 p.m. (and) everything starts at 11 p.m.”
Clancy also said the restaurant will support events and programming rather than standing alone as a bar or lounge.
“The cafe will always operate during museum hours in support of the museum’s programming, and I don’t think it can be considered a nightlife destination in and of itself,” Clancy said.