Cooley’s to Unveil its Plans for a Bar and Restaurant in WeHo’s Boystown

David Cooley
David Cooley
David Cooley is getting out ahead of possible opposition to his plans to open Cooley’s, billed as a “gastropub restaurant and beer garden,” with a presentation of the concept to the public on Tuesday.

The event will take place at the Abbey, the iconic gay bar and restaurant that Cooley founded 23 years ago, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The Abbey, at 696 N. Robertson Blvd., is around the corner from 8936 Santa Monica Blvd. where Cooley’s is expected to open next year in space previously occupied by Raffi Jewelry and Balliamos dance studio and the Unicorn Alley adult store.

An announcement from Cooley says the event is the first of several “previews” planned before plans Cooley’s are submitted to the City of West Hollywood for approval. That presentation currently is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room.

Cooley’s is one of two new bars aimed at a gay clientele planned for the western end of Santa Monica Boulevard, which often is called Boystown because of its concentration of gay bars and restaurants and clothing stores. The other is P.U.M.P, which Lisa Vanderpump plans to open in the former location of Java Detour on the southeast corner of Robertson and Santa Monica boulevards. P.U.M.P. will be restaurant and lounge that will cater to a gay clientele.

The addition of more nightspots has brought criticism from owners of existing businesses in the area, who say that the replacement of stores by bars and restaurants has reduced foot traffic in the area. “Without the retail, what’s going to draw people to the area during the day?” Richard Grossi, owner of Eleven nightclub and restaurant, told WEHOville in Octobers. “Do we really want to be taking all the retail out of the neighborhood and just have nightlife?”

Also, owners of some of the dozen existing gay nightspots, concerned about a decline in business, are upset at facing more competition. None of those who have complained to WEHOville about the impending opening of Cooley’s or P.U.M.P. was willing to comment for the record. But several said they hope to contest Cooley’s application for a liquor license. According to the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, no one has as of yet filed for a liquor license for the Cooley’s location.

  1. The point is not that an old recording studio was repurposed into a nightclub… Eleven is a nice space. Eleven needs to masquerade as a restaurant in order to keep acting as a bar. Eleven outsourced the food function and needs to keep the food flowing in order to justify the alcohol sales. The alcohol keeps the place afloat, but the ABC looks for the food sales to validate the Type 47 license.

  2. Todd….And your point is what? It’s still took a thriving commercial business and was turned into a bar. Regardless of the horrible food that’s been attempted there, it’s still in essence the same business that killed the recording studio.

    Irv’s Burgers had multiple owners over the years also. It’s the nature of the industry.

  3. The old Larrabee Recording studio building was converted to Eleven nightclub (8811 SMB). The restaurant (food) portion of the operation has had numerous operators over the years, some longer than others. In essence, the restaurant operations were subcontracted – whether to a chef/owner or a food services group. Nothing seems to stick there.

  4. What are you talking about Todd?
    Eleven is the only bar/club to have been there. It was built as Eleven. It may have changed a bit over the years, but it is what it is.

  5. Can anyone count how many failed restaurants have been in Eleven? I’m pretty sure they have to have it to retain the liquor license as well as all that patio space.

  6. Ironic that Richard Grossi from Eleven is complaining about more bars/nightclubs when he took a thriving business and turned it into a bar and unsuccessful restaurant.

  7. It’s interesting that Cooley’s will be competing directly with The Abbey (now owed by SBE Entertainment) for customers. Is Mr. Cooley’s non-compete agreement over? But the relationship must still be friendly if The Abbey is going to host his presentation for the competition.

    Still, we all know that food service is just there to support alcohol sales as it’s very difficult to get a bar license. The Abbey operated for most of its existence with a Type 47 liquor license – a restaurant license – even though bar receipts probably were far more than the food. St. Felix, across from the proposed Cooley’s, operates under the same license type, and it behaves more like a bar than a restaurant. Ditto for Eleven and the upcoming P.U.M.P. Cooley’s will be the same. Hey, if everyone else is doing the food-booze dance, why not any newcomer?

    You also need to operate as a “restaurant” in order to more easily lease the sidewalk space from the city. It will be interesting to see Mr. Cooley’s plans. That side of SMB needs revitalization. If no retailers are stepping up, there is no sense hand wringing about what will drive daytime foot traffic. If Mr. Cooley is willing to make the investment in both cash and political capital, and he can satisfy the parking and other requirements for the space, then bring it on.

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