The buzz in Boystown is that sbe Entertainment is looking to make a major move in the nightlife scene along Santa Monica Boulevard.
According to a number of sources and rumors swirling around the westside, sbe, the restaurant, nightclub and hotel empire founded by Sam Nazarian, is looking to turn the former Raffi’s Jewelry and Balliamos dance studio spaces, and the current Unicorn Alley adult store, into a nightclub. Those three spaces make up 8934-8940 Santa Monica Blvd. just east of Robertson.
Those same sources believe sbe has a “letter of intent” to lease out the three spaces from property owner Philippe Chicha of Main Street Properties, who did not return phone calls requesting comment.
Block Party owner Larry Block, who had hoped to lease out the Raffi’s Jewelry spot to open up an undergear store, said he was told by the landlord a week ago that a “letter of intent” to lease the space had already been signed.
“I was told they were going to hold it for a couple more weeks to see if anything was formalized,” said Block, who leased the Raffi Jewelry and Balliamos spaces from 1985 to 1989.
However, when reached for comment, sbe publicist Brian Rosman said, “We actually haven’t announced any new nightclub spaces in West Hollywood and don’t currently have a signed lease anywhere.”
Also, no business license applications, or other applications plans, have been submitted for the property, according to City Clerk Corey Schaffer.
If the rumors are true, sbe’s move comes shortly after the announcement that Lisa Vanderpump, the reality TV star who owns “Sur” on North Robertson, is opening up a second West Hollywood restaurant and lounge on the corner of Santa Monica and Robertson boulevards. That restaurant, to be named P.U.M.P., would neighbor the potential sbe space.
Immediately behind P.U.M.P. on Robertson is Here Lounge and the Abbey, which is also partly owned by sbe.
Block is worried that the emergence of P.U.M.P. and the potential sbe nightclub will leave no room for the other Boystown gay clubs.
“Everybody goes to the biggest place,” said Block. “It’s really a blockbuster that will effect the smaller venues on the street.”
Eleven Nightclub owner Richard Grossi said he’s also heard the rumors from a number of other gay bar owners.
“It seems like West Hollywood doesn’t do anything to keep a balance,” said Grossi. “In this neighborhood that’s going to cause a problem. We’re gonna lose three retail spaces. We already have way too few retail spaces.”