in 1947, renowned Jewish mobster Mickey Cohen purchased the Viper Room (then known as the grocery store Young’s Market) and transformed it into a jazz joint called The Cotton Club. The club served as a front for the headquarters of his mob operations, which took place in the building’s basement. Thugs would drop by with dirty money payments. By 1950, the club had rebranded three separate times and reopened as a strip club following a fire that caused significant damage. This was obviously a reprisal for one of Cohen’s deals that went south.
The Last Call was marketed as the “Rendezvous of the Stars” and boasted five hours of continuous entertainment every night of the week, but it was shut down in April of 1951 after a city ordinance banned lewd dancing and cross-dressing. The day after the club closed, Mickey Cohen was indicted for tax evasion. Cohen and his wife were accused of owing $300,000 (about $1.7 million adjusting for inflation) and he had to divest his assets. Cohen let go of the property which became the Melody Room two months later. The Melody Room was the last jazz club housed on the property before it became a rock ‘n’ roll landmark.