The Airliner is a trendy bar and nightclub in the heart of Lincoln Heights, near downtown Los Angeles. Originally founded in 1912, this 104 year old establishment began as a small diner, getting its name from the original owner who was an airline pilot. What a ride it has been for this entrepreneur as he took over and built this bar into a mainstay in Los Angeles night life! Luis has humble beginnings. Born in Pueblo, Mexico, he arrived in America in 1984 at the age of 14. He remembers his father encouraging him that no matter what you do in life, be the best at what you do. He kept this in mind as he started his career at a bar in Long Beach as a dish washer, paying his dues to work his way up from busboy, waiter, cook at the bar, bartender and later as the manager taking on all responsibilities of running the business for the owners. With a dream of someday owning his own bar, Luis consulted the owners of the bar in Long Beach where he gained his experience; and they became his mentors. He approached them with his idea of buying a small club he had learned of in Lincoln Heights. With their guidance, he closed escrow and got to work on renovating the entire venue; the iconic Airliner under Luis’ management opened for business in 2005.
Coming up through the years Luis has many stories of what it took to create and maintain his nightclub throughout the many phases of running a business in Los Angeles. He has fielded all sorts of incredible obstacles, including a fire in the building that required him to rebuild, mafia members who tried to force him to pay “protection” money to their organization, challenges in maintaining a drama free space where young people and creative artists mingle which can be challenging in and of itself. It’s been a lot of work to ride out all these storms, yet, he maintains an energetic positive outlook towards the future.
With Luis in the driver’s seat, this historic landmark has evolved into one of Los Angeles’ most trendy institutions that plays host to what has become a world-renowned club called the Low End Theory. On Wednesday evenings, The Low End Theory has a line around the block with young people jockeying for a place at the bar and to listen to great music with a chilled-out crowd that appreciate the low-key, grunge feel of The Airliner. The gritty venue has two bars, one upstairs and one downstairs, along with two kitchens, also upstairs and downstairs, that pump out churros, burgers and fries. Upstairs, there is a large outdoor area and smoking balcony. The Airliner has no backstage; guest performers just hang out outside with the rest of the crowd. The Low End Theory is famous for experimental electronic music and hip hop, and is run by Luis who has always maintained the commitment that the club remain drama free, never catering to Hollywood elites and keeping it real. The club’s immense sound system and talented, up and coming artists attracted to perform at this venue keeps it popular with the youth of Los Angeles. The Airliner’s crowd is young (18+), diverse and in general out for the music, more than to see and be seen.
Owning and managing a club is no easy feat, explains Luis; and then there are those nights to remember! He relates a night where he was forced to close the club down because Justin Bieber was in town and had tweeted that he was going to be stopping at the bar one Wednesday night. In the belief that Justin Bieber would be there, the club was suddenly inundated with over 3000 young people dying to get in and get a glimpse of the teen celebrity! The streets were lined with people trying to get into the club which can only hold about 100 people at a time! Rather than have it turn into a drama fest, Luis made the choice to close the doors and send everyone home. Justin never made it that night. Then there was the night when Prince did stride into the bar with full entourage. The Airliner has no “VIP” section and there was really nowhere for him to hang out so when his people arrived and asked if he could come in, Luis suggested there was no way to accommodate him and his group because he couldn’t keep them separate from the rest of the crowd; the famous artist decided not to stay, but, he did need to use the restroom so his people escorted him upstairs and he spent a few moments at the club without the patrons realizing they were, for a quick moment, chilling with the celebrated mega artist Prince himself.
Luis comes from a large family and family is first with him. Every Sunday they have always managed to get together for Sunday dinner, no matter what. Though he spends much of his time managing and maintaining The Airliner, he also is a devoted husband and father, married 20 years with three children, 23, 14 and 11. His wife is very supportive. She is a childcare services worker for the Compton Police Department. For fun, he loves to attend his children’s soccer games. Between supporting his kids and managing his club, his life is thoroughly full. He still finds time for his German Shepard named Lola and to maintain his health through running. Luis is committed to a healthy lifestyle and keeps fit by running marathons regularly. He enjoys his family and looks to the future as his club continues to evolve.
We asked Luis what advice he had for fellow entrepreneurs and he enthusiastically offered this: “My advice for young entrepreneurs and business owners starting out is the same advice my father gave to me: No matter what you do, be the best at it. Don’t give up on your dreams and be willing to do whatever it takes to have what you want.”
On how INSURENEX has been resourceful to him and his business, he was generous to share this with us: “ I rely on INSURENEX to manage all my insurance needs. I appreciate the standards from which Jose Alfaro and Carlos Alfaro run their business and I count on them to advise me on all my insurance needs. They are also a family-owned business and I can’t imagine any other company handling my insurance needs.”
We salute Luis Quiroz and The Airliner for Moving Up in Life; we’re proud to be the one-point of contact for all their business and personal insurance needs! Be sure to check out the historic Airliner club when you’re looking for a great beer with incredible sounds to rock out in the evenings in downtown Los Angeles.