Cooley’s: WeHo Planners Recommend No Dancing, No Cover Charge, No Lines (And No Drinks After 1:30 AM)

David Cooley
David Cooley
When Cooley’s opens next year, you won’t be able to dance and you’ll have to finish your meal by 2 a.m. and won’t be able to order a drink after 1:30 a.m. But then again you won’t have to pay a cover charge or wait in a line on the sidewalk to get in.

Those are among the stipulations in a report by city planners to Community Development Director Stephanie DeWolfe, who will consider the proposal by 8956 SMB Operating Co. LLC to open what it is calling West Hollywood’s first “gastro-pub” early next year. DeWolfe will rule on the proposal, which the planners in general support, at a hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Community Meeting Room at the West Hollywood Library at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica.

8956 SMB is a Delaware-organized entity owned in part by David Cooley, founder of the Abbey, which is widely regarded as West Hollywood’s best-known and most successful gay bar and restaurant. The Cooley’s space formerly housed Raffi’s Jewelers, Balliamos dance studio and Unicorn Alley, an “adult” store, on the south side of Santa Monica just east of Robertson.

Cooley is billing the establishment as a “gastro-pub” restaurant and beer garden. Its Santa Monica Boulevard facade will be recessed to permit a 1,000-square-foot outdoor dining area. Cooley’s also plans a 3,000-square-foot dining area at the rear of the space, facing West Hollywood Park. The design drew praise from city planners.

“Overall the project represents high quality architectural design that provides a strong urban design response to both the street and the alley or park sides of the project,” the staff report says.

The planners recommend that DeWolfe deny Cooley’s request to stay open until 4 a.m., citing Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department concerns that such a late-night venue will require staffing it doesn’t have available. But the planners suggest that DeWolfe reconsider Cooley’s request to stay open until 4 a.m. six months after it opens

West Hollywood 'Boystown' Locations that Serve Alcohol
West Hollywood ‘Boystown’ Locations that Serve Alcohol
The report says that Cooley’s has applied for a license from the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control that is granted to restaurants that also serve alcohol. But it notes that the application has been put on hold pending DeWolfe’s decision. ABC says there are 14 other establishments along North Robertson and along a stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard that serve alcohol. The businesses it cites extend from Mickys, at 8857 Santa Monica near Larrabee, to Hamburger Haven, a burger restaurant at the corner of Santa Monica and Robertson that serves beer. That area, known by some as “Boystown,” is a major gay nightlife destination.

Another issue for Cooley’s is parking. While it will require 69 parking spaces, the renovation of the space will leave only four. The requirement for the other 65 will be satisfied through the city’s parking credits program, which allows a business in that area of town to pay a fee in lieu of supplying parking spaces. The assumption is that customers will park at various public lots and garages as well as public spaces offered at the Pacific Design Center’s Red Building. While the parking credit program was put on hold in August, Cooley’s already had acquired the credits needed.

While Cooley’s has won praise from city planners, it has faced criticism from others in the neighborhood. Alfredo Diaz, owner of Revolver, a gay bar on the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Larrabee, has posted comments on WEHOville about the impact of Cooley’s on the adjacent West Hollywood Park. Other bar owners, who decline to be identified, are concerned that Cooleys will lure customers away from their establishments.


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Professor Shivers
Guest
Professor Shivers

Jonathan is correct–I too have been waiting for the feds to come in and clean up the obvious developer payoffs and illegal council perks. Traffic and lack of parking are ALREADY awful, yet we keep building. And Ezekial is also correct–we are a gay haven and need to start that way. The straights have the rest of the world!

luca d
Guest
luca d

I’m bored already.

Jason
Guest
Jason

@Todd your comments on the Delaware issues are exactly right. Almost every partnership or corporation in America is formed in Delaware for legal reasons. Taxes will still be paid in California on all income earned in California. Also, everyone always talks about the parking situation, last time I checked with the addition of the library parking lot there is more parking in Weho then ever. Also, I don’t think the opening of Cooley’s is going to bring throngs of new people to the city it will just move patrons around and they shouldn’t be driving to the bar if they… Read more »

Ezekial Shake (@EzShake)
Guest

if it’s just going to be another straight hangout it will be lame – enough of West Hollywood has become a destination for hipster straights and their disrespect of the community is not welcome

Todd Bianco
Guest

@Jonathan Delaware has very business-friendly corporate and LLC (limited liability company) laws. The state has an entire court and legal system dedicated to corporate law/governance/law suits. Most large companies are incorporated in Delaware so that they can take advantage of the laws in case there are shareholder lawsuits. A Delaware entity can be used as a tax dodge, but not likely in this case. Regardless of the state of formation or incorporation, if a company does business in California, it’s taxed like any other business ($800 minimum tax, LLC gross receipts tax, corporate franchise tax, etc.). It’s likely that the… Read more »

mattymatt
Guest

Good grief, could that “concern” about the park seem any more transparent? Yes, I’m sure the owner of a competing bar is motivated only by his passion for maintaining a secluded sylvan glade where the only sounds are the chirping of birds.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Amazing but not surprising that city planners give praise to the project. Please Planners let him build it but with a fully glass enclosed patio in the rear. You will be sorry about the noise in the park and once done there will be no turning back. If this was not “David” but maybe Another developer would this be happening ? Conflict maybe ? Last question Why Delaware ? Tax advantage ? Clearly someone is not thinking in the planning department of the real future of the city and its issues. The public comments just go ignored. And for the… Read more »

Todd Bianco
Guest

Very convenient that Cooley’s had already acquired the parking credits before the program was suspended in August. Clairvoyant, really. Also good to know that the PDC Red Building will open up its parking lot for after-hours usage. At least something in that building will be used. I think the staff recommendations are prudent. They should also address valet parking. Will it be offered? If it does, that will take away at least 2-3 on-street spots in front of the establishment. Mr. Cooley owns “part” of the entity that will own/operate Cooley’s. Is that a controlling interest? Who/what entity owns the… Read more »