Goodbye, Nova Express

Angel City is a strange place, a concrete sprawl with hidden oases of wonderful things not found anywhere else. These things are what makes this city worth inhabiting and tonight my favorite of all closes its doors forever.

Nova Express, presumably named after a William S. Burroughs book and decorated accordingly, opened its doors in the early 90s, the same year, in fact, that I landed in this country. It knew all the ways to my heart – excellent food, spectacular space-decor, low lights and late hours. I’ve now been going to Nova ever since my pre-teens, celebrating, mourning and meeting for, yes, fifteen years. In fact, the very first official Coilhouse staff meeting was held there, over some cosmic pizza and alarmingly powerful martinis.

I’ll miss the vintage anime projections, the hundreds of old plastic robots, the all-seeing Cthulhu in the corner, my favorite amoeba-shaped table in the window with its lava lamp askew, every last bit of the place, damn it. Cary Long is the owner and artist behind the awesome SciFi decor, to whom I tip my hat and say “Well done”. This was the first place I would name when asked about the best spots to visit in LA, the only place of its kind and it will be missed more than Cary may ever know. Please don’t go, Nova.

21 Responses to “Goodbye, Nova Express”

  1. Brock McCoy Says:

    Cools! And not cools.

    “This was the first place I would name when asked about the best spots to visit in LA”

    Your second and third choices for hidden gems in this concrete forest would be…?

  2. Skerror Says:

    Damn…that sux. I’ve never been there, but I just felt an ugly little shock flow through the ether.

  3. Mer Says:


    So fucking heartbreaking.

  4. Milly von Hilly Says:

    That’s gay.
    Hope Cthulhu found a good home to go to.

    Will miss you much, Nova.

  5. Paul Komoda Says:

    Oh, well that sucks hard.
    I was looking forward to many strange evenings spent in various states of conciousness, basking in the neon green prescence of Great Cthulhu.
    My one and only time there with Nadya and Kit will always stay with me, however.

  6. Zoetica Says:

    I still can’t believe it and hope that a giant pile of money falls out of the sky in Cary’s lap to keep Nova open forever. The overall mood last night was very much of an End, though, so I won’t be holding my breath. Ugh!

  7. star Says:

    Oh Noes! When I lived in LA this was my favorite place to eat late night. So sad. :(

  8. Nadya Says:

    I’m so sad that I was away for the Last Night of Nova. It was the first place you took me when I came to LA and that was the first moment when I said “hey, LA’s not that bad.” I’ve always associated Nova with the best of what LA had to offer and I’m sad to see it go. And I wish that they’d said something! Like I wish they’d announced it in advance. We’d have come there every other night just to give them business! It’s so sudden – between this and GG passing away, it’s been a really bad week for geeks. :(

    Farewell, plush Cthulhu!

  9. Arabella Says:

    I had been going there since it opened on and off, this is very sad. Seems all my old haunts are closing or getting torn down.

  10. ghoul_poon Says:

    This makes me so sad. This place was amazing. And I’ll be missing their pesto pizza :(

  11. catwalk_ghost Says:

    Unfortunately cool places don’t live long. It’s so reminded me of the recent re-vamping of The Devonshire Arms, which used to be a cool goth pub (with loads of Cthulhu-mythos related decor and unique cosy and friendly atmosphere), and now it’s a dull MTV-inspired rock bar with JD flags on the walls. I’m so sad, that this summer I planned to visit LA and unfortunately will not see such a fantastic place…

  12. Jerem Morrow Says:

    Gah. Back when i was a tottering wee 18 year old, I was trying life away from home in Asheville, NC. A lovely little enclave, shielded from ze outside world. I took many a first step there. one place, in particular, was my home away from home. Vincent’s Ear, it was called. A coffee shop that offered something different from what ze Abercrombie und Filth-ish joints were offering up. It was, much as Nova seem’s to’ve been to many, a place of wonder und camaraderie.

    After moving away, I would always visit for a drink, or to see some random band play whenever I was in town. until one day i received a message from a friend saying it was closing in one week. Gentrification. I was in no position to visit for ze final night, but as I understand it, MANY came out to show support und share one last go. It’s amazing how this little dive has such a hold on my heart, und that of so many other travellers on this path.

    I think I need to go watch something entirely too happy.

  13. kim Says:

    Aw, that’s too bad. I went there once to get a snack. I used to hang out at Max’s bar next door (I think it’s called The Dime) now. All that lovely artwork! I’m sorry to see it go.

  14. Tequila Says:

    Relax people it’ll be replaced by a brand spanking new corporate owned coffee dispensing establishment! That’s happy good right?!

    This sucks…you just don’t have privately owned and original theme places anymore. I can imagine how hard it is to compete with the 1001 franchise places but man…a city is built on unique business like this.

    That said…a Coilhouse “…the best spots to visit in LA…” would be a good lil post to make. Wouldn’t mind seeing something like that featuring other cities too…if only to get more people to go to these lil places that get lost in the sea of corporate owned and run establishments.

    Side note: Every place should have a Cthulhu of some sorts.

  15. Vera Says:

    I loved that place too! I haven’t been there in years but have some very fond memories of a first date there in 1999.

  16. Miss Katonic Says:

    I heard about this today and just about cried! Nova was my first favourite place in LA (well let’s face it. One of my all-time favourite places ever). It breaks my heart to see it go. It’s late hours and sci-fi/Lovecraftian aesthetic were PERFECT. Utterly perfect.
    PLEASE do a Coilhouse “best places in LA” post. Maybe it won’t completely fill the void left by Nova, but it might help.

  17. Zoetica Says:

    As we mourn this tremendous loss I’ll work on compiling the Coilhouse top places to go in Los Angeles, if you promise to be gentlemanly and not send armies of Ugg-wearers to them.

  18. E. Says:

    I’ve recently moved to LA and found it a faceless, rotting city with little character. I wish I had heard of this place earlier, it sounds a true ‘diamond-in-the-rough’. R.I.P. Nova Express-I wish I had known you.

  19. Morgan Says:

    i cant believe their closing Nova! When i went to LA, it was absolutely my favorite place to go, in fact, it’s definitely one of the few good, enjoyable places left in that concrete jungle. Nova will be sorely missed by all who were graced with its amazing atmosphere, spectacular space decor, and great food. it was the only one of its kind, and the gaping rift left by Nova may never be filled.

  20. Faust Says:

    i’ve never been here before, but from what i’ve heard about this place, i feel sad that a place as great as this had to be closed. my condolences.

  21. concrete franchises Says:

    The Nova Express Cafe is definitely the place to go. You can eat under the stars on the patio with its candlelit casual tables, disembodied Little Green Men heads in the window, and a roaming Lovecraft-style alien to keep you company.

    Everybody will miss Nova Express… really sad…