OPINION: Cooley’s May Be Beautiful, But It’s a Bad Idea for WeHo’s Boystown

EDITOR’S NOTE: Alfredo Diaz is the co-owner of Revolver, a bar at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Larrabee that he and his business partner opened two years ago.

Alfredo Diaz
Alfredo Diaz

Last night I stood at the City of West Hollywood’s Community Development meeting to object to a proposal to approve the opening of Cooley’s, a large establishment that will face Santa Monica Boulevard and West Hollywood Park.

My objections to Cooley’s are not based on whether or not David Cooley is a good guy or how great the Abbey is or what both have done for West Hollywood. My concern is about what Cooley’s will become in the long run, about whether the “conditional use permit” the city has granted Cooley’s to open as a restaurant will dictate what it becomes in the future. Once granted, that permit will remain with the site on which Cooley’s be built, regardless of who the tenant and operator are.

My objections also aren’t about my fear of Cooley’s competing with Revolver, the bar a block and a half away that my business partner and I reopened two years ago. There are currently more than 20 places that serve alcohol within a three-block radius of Revolver. Naturally, each and every bar will see a drop in business as people choose to try out a new place when it opens. Yes, new bars mean that the customers of the existing bars and restaurants will be further divided and distributed, resulting in decreased revenue for some of us. How much of a decrease, how long will that last and who will be affected? That no one can say.

I will be the first to admit the plans for Cooley’s are aesthetically pleasing. However that alone does not make the project worth the automatic approval the city gave it Tuesday night. As nice as the design is, Cooley’s proposed floor plan creates outdoor space for commercial use that directly affects the nearby West Hollywood Park and the surrounding residential neighborhood in a way not seen anywhere else in the country.

Allowing Cooley’s to open a 3,000-square-foot patio overlooking the park  creates a precedent for all the businesses along the park to do the same. It doesn’t take much imagination to foresee the impact a handful of noisy bars would have on a space that has been  created as an escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

The argument that most of the noise will be limited to the nighttime is a gross under assessment for two reasons. First, David Cooley’s nearby Abbey enjoys robust daytime business, and so would Cooley’s because they are similar in size and scope. Second, sound travels further and seems louder at night without the ambient noise created by daytime activity. That’s especially true in a park that lacks structures to absorb the noise.

Cooley’s over-sized restrooms and a bar area disproportionate in size to its own kitchen are vibrant red flags as to the future business SBE intends to operate there. I wouldn’t doubt that Cooley’s and SBE will be applying for modifications to their conditional use permit  to allow them to offer live entertainment and dancing and stay open after 2 a.m. It is liquor sales, and the relatively high profit margin that comes with that, that will generate the revenue necessary to pay for operating in a space that covers what once was three storefronts.

As a gay man and a West Hollywood business owner, I have serious concerns about the direction Boystown is headed in its development. Will the placement of Cooley’s on Santa Monica Boulevard near Robertson cannibalize the gay customer base of the nearby Abbey, making it an even straighter venue than it currently is? There isn’t an infinite supply of LGBT residents and visitors to sustain two such mega businesses, not to mention proposed nearby venues such as P.U.M.P. and The Horn. Will these large businesses alter the demographics of the area—making it less gay—or will these businesses crush themselves under the weight of their own square footage?

Having the right tenant mix on Santa Monica Boulevard is crucial for all of the businesses there to thrive. The vast majority of those businesses opposed to this project, and I suspect that once nearby residents are made fully aware its impact on the park they will feel the same.

Cooley’s may be beautiful, but it is a bad idea for our neighborhood.

  1. Alfredo is trying to preserve the gay culture in WeHo and sees Cooley’s as a threat to that. I happen to agree with him. Get beyond the fact that he is a business owner and consider what he is saying about the long-term effect on the identity of this community when straight people are not comfortable with the kind of entertainment gay people mostly are. It will be gay people who will be expected to adjust to accommodate them. Not the other way around.

  2. “The fact is Revolver has captured a very coveted segment of the gay population, established gay men with money and an appreciation for the fact we are a gay owned and operated business. Neither the Abbey nor Cooley’s can ever say the same about being gay owned and operated. I found it wildly amusing that no one from SBE was there speaking. Perhaps I missed that.”

    “Gay men with money”

    “Gay … money”

    I don’t recall the old original and beloved Revolver video bar ever being the go to hangout for established rich queens. The Revolver I remember was down to earth, it was gritty and it was the kind of place where you could get messy. The new Revolver throws the kind airs that cater to “gay men with money.” Aside from the name, it’s pretty clear to state that the new Revolver has been Abbey-ed.

    I’m sorry Alfredito, but IF it sounds like you’re threatened by a little stiff competition and IF you look like you’re threatened by a little stiff competition, then chances are.,.

    Just sayin’.

  3. Santa Monica Boulevard is dead. Mickey’s, Rage, Motherlode and the uninspired return of Revolver two years ago make me feel embarrassed for us as a community when outsiders come to visit. If it weren’t for Here and the Abbey we’d be a total joke. Cooley’s and PUMP are exactly what this city needs. It’s time we elevated ourselves to the showstopping, jaw-dropping, gay L.A. mecca we’re expected to be.

    Here’s a tip Fredo: stop calling yourself a video bar. What in the 1989 hell is a “video bar?” You show videos on tv screens? You also have a flight of stairs down to your toilets, so does that make “Downstairs Toilet Bar” equally suitable?

    This is guy has his panties in a bunch because a cooler, newer bar is opening and it’s going to affect his bottom line. Spare us the crocodile tears and give us a reason to come to your bar vs. Cooley’s, and PS, welcome to the free market.

  4. I was with you when you talked about preserving quiet at the park, but then you went on about “Boystown” (tackiest section of WeHo and visited mostly by tourists and suburban gays). Fortunately, WeHo is more than that and more diverse than your limited vision of it.

  5. the personal insults and assumptions on this thread are embarrassing.

    mr. diaz makes some interesting points and has a right to express them. he is not going to win this battle today but his concern about what the new venue may become, are fair.
    the abbey started out as a coffee shop, and it was a great hang out. twenty years later, it has become a vulgar haunt for hipsters and ‘b’ list celebrities. my opinion.

    I have no idea what cooley’s will do to the neighboring businesses, but I suspect it will hurt for a bit, but things will level out and the $15 martini crowd will bounce back and forth on that southeast corner of the boulevard and Robertson. ultimately, cooley’s will not bring more gay men and women to west hollywood. that is a function of the economy and demographics.
    no harm, no foul.

    in six months after opening, the encroachment begins, applying for more latitude in what cooley’s offers it’s clientele and within 18 months, ‘bride of abbey’ will stalk the boulevard and park.
    that’s it. baby steps to becoming a full fledged late night restaurant, dance club, maybe live cabaret, and yes, more traffic, more parking complaints, more money for the city that sells access and privilege.
    you don’t think that cooley’s investors didn’t pony up the kind of scratch for fast track development on the boulevard for the original concept presented, do you?
    these folks have dreams.
    I think mr. diaz is low balling cooley and his alphabet friends hopes and vision.

    by the way, I am old enough and at the same time, young enough to remember revolver’s first incarnation, and I preferred the original.
    so, not having a dog in this fight, we’ll all just have to wait and see.
    I think i’m right.

  6. Get a grip Alfredo, and your blue eyed boy boyfriend. There are no good restaurants in West Hollywood and this will only bring people to the street to perhaps dine and have an after dinner drink at your place. The ugly rants on here really show the pettiness of the argument against Cooleys. Alfredo is not concerned for the neighborhood. I live on Cynthia, near Palm and am very familiar with the local businesses and Alfredo has never did one thing for the community and his neighbors are not fond of him at all. It is quite known from the local bar owners that Alfredo came into the street saying he would put them out of business… so maybe karma is coming around. .

  7. VERY well said, Terry. You said it better than I. Consider what Alfredo is saying as if he couldn’t have any vested interest other than his love for WeHo and its culture, just as I do.

  8. Really good points made ine the article, regardless of who the author is. That a loud bar will open to a beautiful and serene park is a legitimate concern for reasonable, objective people.

    J S-D, your comment about European plazas made me think twice about how I feel about the situation. If it worked out that way, I agree… It would be nice. I worry that the more likely scenario is that it will end up essentially being a loud bar blasting club music into the park. To me, that’s not appealing. But again, I like the plaza in a park idea.

    I can’t imagine WeHo gay boys wanting to be in an environment where they can’t see and be seen. So I’m betting that it will fail unless it blends in with the park and ends up being a nice space for reading, contemplation, prayer, or quiet conversation.

    All those attacking Alfredo should forget about who he is for a moment and give some critical thought to the issues he raises. And stop with all the pettiness. If people disagree, have an adult, well reasoned and articulated discussion about the issues. Or maybe carry on the conversation in a public meeting. Maybe having to show ones face would encourage some people to be more thoughtful and civil.

  9. Its too bad it is a pissing match between one business and another new venture. The more the merrier, … Why is Alfredo asking all these questions about the abbey or sbe or how much money he has,.. its Cooleys choice is to invest in west hollywood and a lot more dough and novel idea than Mr Diaz could think up…with no imagination he had to go back to an old name from yesteryear and mimic a tired name instead of from a new identity.. If you read Alfredo’s responses and more responses and the defenses of his blueeyed friend it is clear that most of the posts supporting Alfredo’s position are from his own clan.. none of which spoke up during the time they could have attended whatever meeting and made their voices heard.. Alfredo Diaz tone, and negativity drown the merits of his points.

  10. Has anyone established who actually owns Cooley’s? Sure, David Cooley is the public face of the project; but if SBE is the majority owner “silent investor” and the place will be run as another SBE venue, shouldn’t we know? I now Alfredo says that’s the case. Have there been any public disclosures on the matter?

    SBE’s history of running restaurants and nightclubs is checkered, as pointed out in the comments here. Remember, the liquor license and other land use permits run with the land, not the owner/operator. So if the place ever goes belly up, only a large, very well capitalized new owner could make a space that large work.

    Did Mr. Cooley have to repurchase a share of The Abbey so he could “right the ship” or did he retain some ownership percentage when he originally sold it to SBE (which was the speculation at the time of the sale)? The answer is sort of important to the back story as to who is really calling the shots at Cooley’s. I’ve also heard that Mr. Cooley purchased the land underneath The Abbey. Anyone know if this is true?

    And while we’re at it, I’m still not clear as to why SBE would back such a large, similar venue so close to The Abbey – you know, why risk clipping the Golden Goose’s wings?

  11. Shawn, aka Alfredo doppleganger: My point about Alfredo is that he has little credibility on the issues he’s presented because of his obvious financial interest that he illogically dismisses. He should have admitted up front that the competition at Cooley’s will hurt his business and that is part of his reason for his disagreement with the project. Instead, he attempts to appear saintly in his wanting to protect the community against a new business that will do monetary harm to his business. (That harm may be fleeing or permanent, but that’s another issue.)

    As for your statement: “And what’s the sense in attacking the person and not just the opinion?”, Alfredo, himself, wrote in his responses to yelp reviews of k2 attacks on the reviewers, not just their opinions. Alfredo appeared not to be able to handle any sort of criticism in the past, and it looks like that’s his present M.O.

    And as for the allegation that I have no idea about anything east of La Brea, please realize that my husband and I have two residences – one in Weho, and one in Silverlake. Your intuitiveness is astounding, Shawn. I hope you’re not employed as a psychic.

  12. SL.. your comment about Big Gun Fridays is just plain stupid. Big Gun relates to big biceps not weapons. Stick to the real issues not stupid distractions. There are legitimate arguments on both sides so let’s focus on the real issues and not make a bunch of petty accusations against anyone. Smart development is important and it’s critical that all legitimate feedback be aired so the correct decision can be made.

  13. I’m not sure what’s wrong with glorifying guns because they protect us from bad people.

    Diaz took a real risk when he wrote his article because he had to know there would be people who wouldn’t be able to separate the big picture he was presenting from those who see only what they think is his vested interest. But there is a bigger issue he is addressing.

    It’s not idol worship to admire people who provide products and services I need and enjoy. In keeping with the topic at hand, where would we be without Revolver, Rage, Eleven, HereLounge, Mother Lode, Mickey’s, Fubar and others? SOMEBODY had to create those businesses and I am grateful to them.

  14. I have to disagree with you as well, Alfredo. I think its an ideal location for what Cooley has in mind. I love the idea of the whole block becoming a vibrant noisy, lively terrace over the park. This is what makes the great European squares and parks so great. The park is plenty large enough for people who want to read in quiet to head down to the middle and the lower end of the park. I think the basketball games at the top of the park will continue to work fine with a party going on across and above the alley. It’s a dense urban city. It’ll never be the village of Sherman again. Thick, rich, diverse urban fabric is great for LA. As far as the taste level of SBE, or the kind of crowd it draws, or the change it has on the old world West Hollywood, these are all market driven. If people don’t like it, they won’t go. You have the opportunity to provide someplace different at Revolver, which many people do and will continue to love. Let David and SBE do their thing.

  15. SL sounds like a typical weho cattiness embodiment. What does a former venture in another part of town have to do with a valid opinion of proposed and now approved business in Weho? And what’s the sense in attacking the person and not just the opinion? And yelpers are obsessive liars. Yelp is synonymous with lying and who really takes the entitled opinions of entitled people seriously anyway? I bet a hefty nickel SL never even goes east of La Brea or could even point out Silverlake on a map of this fine city

  16. Saying that someone who doesn’t agree with your viewpoint doesn’t know how to read is an irrelevant “cheap shot” to use your term, BEB. It was you who stated, “We owe a LOT to people like Alfredo Diaz who took the great risk of possibly not being successful and losing everything.” Where does this idol worship come from? Are you also proud of his failed Silverlake eatery (K2) where he berated customers on yelp who had legitimate criticisms? Also his need to rebut each and every comment above, whether by himself or through surrogates, is mildly disturbing.

    The part that has turned off everyone who disagrees with the above article is the inherent, obvious contradiction Alfredo makes by saying he’s not afraid of the new competition. I call BS, and so have others. That’s insulting. Alfredo, we know your a businessman. We hope you have an understanding of simple economics; more product options for customers means more competition among the suppliers of those products.

    And yes, he is promoting gun violence (intentional or not). He’s glorifying guns to sell drinks. He features guns in ads for his Friday promo and has done this despite all of the horrible gun violence in the past two years. I may not know how to read, according to you, but I can do the math. Guns in ads promoting a bar = incredibly poor taste.

  17. Alfredo has a point and the point is that Weho Community Development is much , much too happy to say yes to this project and the modifications to the conditional use permit will appear and it’s not just about being a gastropub or the breathing of fresh air into the Weho food scene. Even the design is uninspiring; they are absolutely aiming for Abbey 3.0.

    People who say Alfredo is just about sour grapes are knowingly lying to themselves because in all sincerity Cooley’s is just too unbelievable on the surface as it stands and once you get below the surface and it’s 2-3 years down the road people praising this project and telling the world ‘this is what Weho needs’ will have egg on their faces as they have a drunken stumble home through Weho Park only to be awaken by groups of boot campers at 6am the next morning,

  18. It amazes me that people who can write don’t necessarily know how to read.

    By the way, SL, I’ve never met Alfredo Diaz, but I am very pro-business and have great admiration for people who do what he has done. I do believe very much in competition in that it makes everybody better. I am, however, questioning the long-term wisdom of bringing in a business like Cooley’s which may change the culture of WeHo. I really don’t think most the commenters here have read his article without making up their minds what they think he is saying beyond the second paragraph. Their eyes may have passed over the rest of his article, but they haven’t absorbed it.

    It’s a cheap shot to require that Diaz up his charitable giving. How do you know what charities he supports? Whether he gives away a little, a lot, or nothing is nobody’s business but his own and his family’s. It’s none of yours. You have no idea what his expenses are.

    And “promoting gun violence”?! REALLY, SL?

  19. Geez sounds like sour grapes to me … for a gay guy to oppose another gay guy opening a business for fear that it will draw people away from the Abbey and make it more straight than it already is …. give me a break …. just because Revolver is not open in the daytime and doesnt attract teh crowds that the Abbey gets to me sounds like sour grapes.

  20. Just my humble thoughts as a former resident an infrequent visitor of the WEHO area I want to say I see both sides. That section of the strip has fond memories and it’s fun to come back to it every once in awhile. It’s fun to go to that area because you ARE going out to socialize and some, or a lot, of cocktails.

    However the last few times I’ve gone to the area there just seems to be something missing. It’s just a little too much the same. Bar, bar, bar, restaurant bar, bar, club, bar, grocery store. Maybe something as Mr. Cooley suggests as this establishment is what the area needs – if for nothing else just a little jolt. Let’s face it, with GLBTQ rights broadening every day, there are many changes, good and bad, for the gay ‘ghetto’. A lot of that being the ever increasing mainstream customer who doesn’t care that it’s a ‘gay’ establishment rather than a good one. Living here in Phoenix, I would say that some of the most successful retailers, restaurants, and bars have been those that maintain a gay culture but almost court men and women who accept our culture.

    I also think I see Mr. Diaz’s point. It’s a large facility that would compliment/compete with the existing large Abbey. It then could possibly breed the need for future endeavors to equally do the same. Think of it as too many ‘box stores’ in the same area – all catering to the same clientele. It’s a risk either way, but a change to the community is inevitable, especially when the culture ahead of it is moving forward daily.

    BTW – Congrats New Mexico!

  21. Boystown needs less bars, clubs & restaurants and more actual civic community strengthening places (i.e. Live Theaters, Movie Theaters, Museums, Learning Centers, Pool Halls, Activity Stores etc…).
    Weho is more than a $16 Cocktail to me, but apparently not to the business owners, city council and developers that are lucky to have the privilege of managing our precious beautiful limited space.

  22. Blueeyedboy, I misunderstood, Alfredo is running Revolver as a non-profit? You make him sound like he’s giving Mother Teresa a run for her donated money. Alfredo’s thinly veiled agenda is just that: thinly veiled. If he really cared about the good of the community, how about he donate a portion of his profits straight to charity. And how about he not promote gun violence by labeling one of his nights as “Big Gun Fridays.” Guns help the community???? I’d prefer a nice professionally run gastropub any day.

  23. PARKING IN WEST HOLLYWOOD IS AT AN ALL-TIME LOW. Literally. The amount of traffic and places to park has become wildly inconvenient and EXPENSIVE. Love the growth in the neighborhood but THESE BARS HAVE TO ACCOMMODATE FOR PARKING SPACES. I just don’t understand how these bars and restaurants can build and have these hundred plus capacities and NOT accommodate for parking. These bars and restaurants need to be taxed or be made to build sufficient parking for the amount of people they plan to bring in to the area. Because right now the residents of West Hollywood who have to park on the streets are paying literally and figuratively for these “visitors” to come into our neighborhoods and take away our residential parking when the visitors cheap out and don’t want to pay for a garage or any one of the exorbitantly priced meters. On top of that, in addition to the visitors, you have large amounts of staff for these bars and restaurants who also need places to park. The real discussion here isn’t about the new business it’s about getting these businesses to chip in and solve the parking issue that’s only getting worse.

  24. Be aware that Alfredo is the bar owner who staged the recent photo op to pour out Stoli vodka (OK, it was actually water from a Stoli bottle but he called on his friends to show up so the event would seem well attended and supported) to misguidedly protest a company that is actually pro-gay. This is just another bid to get people to…pun alert…pour into Revolver. As for the crux of his argument against Cooley’s, let’s be real. It’s the terrible parking situation which has leveled the gay bar scene in Boystown.

  25. Does Alfredo even live in Weho? His facebook says he lives in Los Angeles. I think wehoville.com should ask all the bar owners in Weho about what they think of Alfredo. That would be eye-opening. So shouldn’t patronize non-gay owned bars? Is that the new bandwagon we’re on?

  26. It’s a f**king bar. WeHo DOES NOT NEED ANOTHER f**king bar exactly like the Abbey. WeHo needs a bar that plays music at a level in which you can still hold a conversation with friends and not have gogo boys in your face ALL THE TIME. Here’s hoping Cooley’s just doesn’t become Abbey/Here/Revolver/Mickeys/Rage redux. Here’s hoping they try something new and create a loungey space that’s not all DJs/gogos/porn on the TV. WeHo has enough of that.

  27. Well-written article. But as someone who lives half a block from Revolver and spends at least five nights a week patronizing the local gay bars, I have to disagree. The more competition the merrier. Remember Alfredo, when your bar opened in 2011, how it affected Mickys and Eleven? Both places had to more or less drop cover charge, get rid of their attitudes, and start offering drink specials. You also cleared the crowds a bit at some of the other places. Cooley’s, P.U.M.P. and the Horn are almost certainly going to hurt your business in the beginning. But then you will be forced to revamp your business strategy to stay relevant and attract customers. There’s no guarantee that the 3 new bars are going to succeed while the existing ones fail. Hopefully the addition of new competition make our existing establishments better.

  28. Geez, Romanoff, can’t you set aside your preconceived notions of what you decided Alfredo was saying BEFORE you even read his piece, and READ IT AGAIN?! The points he is making are much bigger than you seem to see. He is looking out for the community FAR more than any concern for his business. I don’t see that his concern is self-serving at all. Is your first instinct always to assume that a successful business person is one who had to have gotten there on the backs of the weak and by knocking out the competition “by hook or by crook”? We owe a LOT to people like Alfredo Diaz who took the great risk of possibly not being successful and losing everything. I, for one, don’t have the balls to put up with the crap that people like he and the owner of Mickey’s has had to endure, and then to have the community they serve think the worst of them when they are, in this case at least, trying to protect that community from possibly irreversible damage. Consider the bigger picture, Romanoff! My hat is off to you, Alfredo.

  29. You realize that the CITY commissioned them to build overlooking the park as such right?! They believe the park is underused and not easily visible the way it is positioned.

  30. Geez Alfredo, you keep sounding more and more defensive. I hardly think you have big balls for attacking your perceived competition, it’s smell more of desperation.

    As for you being grandfathered in, does that make it alright? The fact that Faith Plating was grandfathered in and allowed to leak toxic metals into the earth, does that make it OK?
    Of course not.

    If this was someone other than David Cooley you wouldn’t be complaining. You make a ton of speculation about what Cooley’s MAY turn into. Give them a chance just like you were given a chance when you re-opened Revolver.

  31. I think this is a great Idea. Weho needs an upgrade and shake up. The more options there are, the more people will go out. I think this is super exciting. The plans look amazing and the concept very cool. As someone who has been going out in WEHO for the past 10 years, I welcome this change!! And as for the noise, give me a break. When you live in the heart of WEHO, guess what.. there is going to be noise! That is the blessing and curse of living in an area that is centrally located with business all around you. If you don’t want that kind of exposure, one should move to totally residential area and not live half a block away from one of the busiest streets in the country. Good luck to david and the other new business opening! I can’t wait to enjoy the space.

  32. I agree with Alfredo. While the sleek plans might seem like a good idea on the surface, it’s actually another step towards diluting Weho and destroying the neighborhood. There’s two major problems with Cooley’s: 1) it’s too big, too open to the park, a commercial version of a mcmansion and 2) it’s going to pull in straight bridge and tunnel tourists and further de-gay the neighborhood. If this place actually attracts the gay community, then great, but I am VERY skeptical this will happen.

  33. These opinions from Mr. Diaz are absolutely ridiculous. There is neither a limited supply of gay people who plan to visit West Hollywood nor a reason to fear more straight people coming here with them. We don’t have many decent restaurants here, especially for groups of people; this would be a welcome addition that would certainly attract more people to the area, and it’s not going to steal them from Revolver or The Abbey. Gay people will always come here as long as we provide gay entertainment, music, and people. Being frightened of straights coming here is as ridiculous as straights opposing gay marriage! Gays, Lesbians, Transgenders, and Straights come here for the gay entertainment, the more the better. We’re a gay holiday destination and there’s going to be plenty of gays to keep Revolver, The Abbey, Cooley’s, P.U.M.P. Lounge, and The Horn in business. Even if Cooley’s did eventually turn into a bar, it would only increase Revolver’s business. Revolver simply needs to stay relevant by playing good music and having interesting club nights, and perhaps offering seating and snacks during the day rather than trying to halt development and spreading false facts. Don’t listen to this fear mongering!

    1. Gregg, Alfredo Diaz backed up his comments with sound reasoning, research and his business experience. You offered only opinions based on nothing, and you did it with condescension. What qualifies you to come to the conclusions you did? You left that out.

  34. I just want to address one statement from this article: “Second, sound travels further and seems louder at night without the ambient noise created by daytime activity.”

    That might be true, but who is affected by this, in this scenario? An empty nighttime park, library and PDC? Sorry, I just don’t get this noise argument that I keep reading.

    Perhaps sound is going to travel even further, like below Melrose, and affect residents down there? I’m not being sarcastic when I ask that. I just don’t understand the outrage regarding the noise factor against and empty park at night.

  35. When I chose to voice my objection to this project I knew it would ruffle feathers. I knew the simple and easy criticisms would be fear of competition or that I’m attacking David Cooley. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m an entrepreneur in part because I’m not afraid of competition. This isn’t my first time to the rodeo kids; I’ve owned businesses since I was 22 years old. Some successes and some not. David Cooley and I share many of the same friends. I hope to own a bar as successful as the Abbey some day and if I owned the Abbey I would consider myself a lucky man. I knew that even though many business owners and residents approached me with their concerns about Cooley’s that I may be the only one with balls big enough to tackle the task head-on and publicly. I’ve respond to some of the recent comments below.

    Martin I won’t even get into all of your comments but one that really gets me is your statement that as a straight man my comments make you feel discriminated against. Your drink or two at the straightest gay bar in town don’t make you the straight spokesperson for the LGBT community. But I’m happy you feel a part of our cause. I can also assure you that I have done very well over my professional career and hold no jealousy of David’s material wealth. I have a charmed life with an amazing husband and two wonderful children. Your argument that Cooley’s would never want to become a nightclub and compete with the Abbey is a smoke screen of BS. The egos involved would never even consider that a possibility. Most likely they would feel they could draw from every other establishment in town and control the nightlife scene in West Hollywood. But that would be a slippery slope. Hey Martin do you work for SBE?

    Luc perhaps you’ll be lucky and David will open a place in Montreal he has a home there so it would make perfect sense, but I’m guessing you already knew that.

    Migs are my only choices Walgreens or another SBE property? I’ve suggested Dean & Deluca, a retail Co-op such as Space 15 Twenty in Hollywood and even a smaller version of Cooley’s. Additionally I paid a hefty price to acquire a fully entitled location that has continuously been run as a bar gfor over 40 years.

    Romanoff same answer as with Migs. My locations use predates the residential located up the street and is grandfathered. Thus the value of that location. But no, I still don’t think public parks should be amphitheaters for commercial use.

    MarkT if this turns out to only be a gourmet restaurant that doesn’t morph into a bar/nightclub I would be fine with it. I just do not believe will be the case. If you found my points to be invalid than the article will of course seem like sour grapes to you.

    Sean I don’t know where to begin with you. Revolver is to blame for the downfall of WeHo because you can’t walk through my crowded bar to get a drink? But wait the only thing we do is get people wasted? Oh and you can’t dance because we don’t have a dance floor? Lets set the record straight on a few things. We haven’t had a single person get sick in our bar since we opened. If we find that someone has had too much to drink it is our policy to place that person in a cab on our dime. We’ve even partnered with Uber to ensure the safety of our customers. And as for WeHo’s lack of imagination I hope you’ll find the modern version of the Abbey more original.

    BZ, BlueEyedBoy and Martin thank you for at least taking an objective approach and at least considering the points I was trying to raise.

    Stefano thank you for at least having the balls to use your name when commenting. The quick approval process does not surprise me. David is a smart man and is doing what any smart businessman would do to shove a project through.

    Has everyone chosen to ignore the fact that SBE is running Cooley’s? I’m guessing most of the people responding know that and are intentionally deflecting the conversation to assert I’m afraid of competition or somehow personally attacking David Cooley. None of which is true but it is a good PR move. SBE has done a great job with Mercado De Vetro right? Or Mi6 before that? Or how about Foxtail before that? Did we like the changes they made at the Abbey when they first took over? Ya but no to all of the above.

    See I disagree completely that this venue will bring people back to West Hollywood especially from the Eastside or Downtown. The gay populations there could careless about David Cooley or SBE nor would this project as a whole appeal to them. Sure a few people who don’t venture out much will come out to check out the new Cooley’s and see what all the fuss was about. I guess we will all see how fantastic and great for the city this project will be soon enough.

  36. I don’t think most the commenters here are fully considering everything Alfredo is saying, and in fact, seem to be reading things INTO what he said. Please read the article again without preconceived notions. He is making some very good points and he happens to be in a good position to know.

    BZ, gay people are always going to need entertainment that is gay, that heteros would not enjoy. I’m afraid Cooley’s is going to be a step towards mainstreaming our entertainment which will eventually leave gays without the places that are “ours” alone. To blend us too much into mixed venues would mean WE would have to make all the adjustments to accommodate the comfort of everybody else. It’s not asking too much to preserve a couple of blocks in WeHo to always be clearly “BoysTown”.

  37. Hello I am a gay business person from Montreal, Canada and com to west Hollywood every month, I have not felt more at ease with myself and my sexuality since the first time I visited your great city. Let me tell you the I would be so proud to have a man like David Cooley do 1/4 of what he as done for Weho , in my city. He is fantastic role model for our community and are rights as gay men and women.

    I am shock to think that anyone would want to stop that great project! And also saying that they are to much straight people in the area. I have fought all my life for respect and to be treated equally. Why would we not accept straight people that accept as there equals in our venue. Shame on anyone saying differently.

    A monthly tourist that loves your city and enjoys every day there!

  38. Sorry Alfredo, but could not disagree with you more. Cooleys is EXACTLY what weho needs if it comes to fruition as a gourmet restaurant with significant outdoor options finally making use of a view of the park that everyone in that area has, but do not use.
    I remember the days when club owners would call the police or fire department on each other when someone’s club was too successful, so I hope that the intent of your op-ed isn’t the sour grapes it appears to be.
    The restaurants in boystown are tired and uninspired and it can be frustrating for someone who lives in weho to find a good gay restaurant on the boulevard and I hope David Cooley delivers on his promise.

  39. Alfredo: Then what is the basis of your objection? I’m so confused by your fallacy. Should the area enter into a permanent state of stasis – and not further develop/renew/progress? Your arguments are nothing but a red herring.

    Of course now that your foots in the door with Revolver, let’s all scream about anything new that might encroach into your territory. I’m sure if a wallgreens were proposed, you would not concern yourself on how it would “alter the demographics of the area—making it less gay”. *rolls eyes*

    Its refreshing to have someone willing to invest in the community with a quality establishment. And seeing that you are just as invested in a growing/vibrant community – you should celebrate it too.

  40. Some good points. As a gay man in my late 40s, I also regret that gay neighborhoods all over the country are becoming less so. But that’s just evolution I’m afraid. Broader societal acceptance of our lifestyle means we don’t have to live and congregate in gay ghettos, as fun as that might be. What we should be worried about, however, is the direction we’re allowing businesses to go in our neighborhood. And I agree that allowing a bigger, newer version of the Abbey to encroach into our new multimillion-dollar park is probably short sighted. Do the families enjoying the park on Sunday afternoons really need to see strippers dancing on platforms? And we all know that’s what will be happening.

  41. I look forward to Cooley’s opening, it is time that something new came to town and offered a different type of atmosphere. Unfortunately the greatest threat to boystown, is bars like Revolver. When the new owners took over and redesigned a flawed concept all they did was create more of the same. It, like so many of the bars along the strip hurt the gay population by forcing one thing at all of there establishments and that is to get its patrons wasted. Enjoying a night out in West Hollywood with friends is no longer an option, the businesses on the strip have set one clear goal and it is intoxication. It’s time for the business model to change. When you walk into a crowded “bar” with barely enough room to navigate as you push and shove to order a drink, the music blaring so loud you can’t carry on a conversation with those you came with, and surprisingly no where to dance (although the music is pumping so loud you think your at a top 40’s rave) you are setting up your patrons for disaster. I hope that Cooley’s will fill that gap in the market even if it’s only on its back terrace, as a place to meet with friends, laugh, have conversations and enjoy those around you more than the severely overpriced drink in your hand. The real reason gay patron’s are leaving boystown and visiting less often is because there are too many “straight” venues that offer better atmospheres, better drinks, and room to do what we as gay men do best, b.s. with one another. As a gay guy, in Los Angeles, I can say I am bored with West Hollywood’s lack of imagination. I hope Cooley’s offers something different or takes away enough business from the other bars, forcing them to offer our community something different, something where the community gathers to connect, unwind and not just have drinks spilled on them while they scream at there friends about how their week was.

  42. West Hollywood nightlife has been on a quick downward spiral for the last 5 years. These 3 new venues will give most who’ve given up an opportunity to experience a newly energized boys town.

    Alfredo, you have a cute little place, but these larger venues are what will draw people back in and spread those new customers to all the surrounding businesses.
    As a businessman I would think you would know and embrace that rather than fear it.

    There isn’t a decent place to eat in boys town and with these new venues, not only they be fun places to drink and socialize, but to also get (hopefully ) a more diverse dining scene.

    This is the best thing to happen to that neighborhood since David Cooley started expanding his little coffee shop.

    Cooley’s is NOT in a residential neighborhood, however Revolver IS…ironic. Would you rather have some noise adjacent to basketball courts or noise coming in your bedroom window. Think about that Alfredo.

  43. Migs your synopsis of my article is what is flawed. I point out that who it will affect and how much no one can say. I’d be foolish to think that we wouldn’t see a slight dip in business but you must have a pretty low opinion of Revolver if you think Cooley’s could put us out of business. We do just fine against the Abbey now and I’d wager that few bars gross a similar amount per square foot. Which incase you’re not aware, is how you fairly compare businesses of varying size.

    Your insistence that my opinions are purely based on fear of competition suggest you have very limited business experience or perhaps you think I’m just that petty. Have you ever thought that I could be concerned for Eleven, Here Lounge or Micky’s? They are after all much larger and more difficult to fill. But more importantly they ARE gay owned and operated, they are my neighbors and they have my allegiance before any SBE property would.

    The fact is Revolver has captured a very coveted segment of the gay population, established gay men with money and an appreciation for the fact we are a gay owned and operated business. Neither the Abbey nor Cooley’s can ever say the same about being gay owned and operated. I found it wildly amusing that no one from SBE was there speaking. Perhaps I missed that.

    Lets not forget the reason David bought back a major percentage of the Abbey. SBE’s operating policies were extremely flawed and damaged an excellent brand. In tern David stepped back in replacing SBE’s management with staff that would service our demographic the way we were accustomed to. Another SBE owned property is a bad idea from Boystown.

  44. I actually can’t believe what I am reading about Cooley’s being a bad idea! Everything mentioned above is false and inappropriate. ALL of it comes from a scared business owner trying to protect his business and not concerned one bit about the growth of and expansion of the City of West Hollywood.. Maybe a bit of jealousy on top of it for bluntly stating that ”Cooley has enough mansions and cars, what else does he need?’..

    First of all Cooley’s can only be beneficial to other business on the Santa Monica Strip. Bringing in more people in the area coming in for a bite to eat and a drink at one location then going to another.. Especially with the parking credit allowing them to park at location and go at several other venues. It could have certainly been beneficial to ‘Revolver’ as well but not with this kind of attacking behavior to a respected business owner who had his business in the community for over 20 years..

    Second of all as a straight men in West Hollywood, I feel discriminated by these comments. I can’t actually believe that anyone could mention this!! I hang out at the Abbey and at several other gay venues and have an amazing time with the gays. There isn’t a ” I’m straight” sign on my forehead”. I simply have a good time and I don’t think anyone feels threaten by my presence 🙂 The gays have gone so far and went through so much over the past decades to feel accepted… Who in his right mind would have the audacity to discriminate back the straights who are actually proud of being in a gay venue?

    Thirdly, From what I know Mr. Cooley is a very smart business man and probably the best at what he does. Cooley’s venue is a creative and innovative project with a concept that combines very well with the Abbey. If the concept would change from a Gastro-pub to a nightclub it would affect his own nightclub next door directly.. So why would anyone be worried about Cooley’s becoming a nightclub and trying to get it’s dancing permit etc..

    At last, I would like to say that I am extremely excited about the opening of Cooley’s!

  45. I’ve had the same concern about what this will do to the spirit of BoysTown and its gay nightlife. I can see the other bars eventually becoming banks or Walgreens, and Cooley’s being pretty much the only place in the area for gays to hang out. Then when Cooley’s gets old who knows what will take their place, and people will wonder why the area was ever called BoysTown? Diaz’s points are very well taken and I’m glad someone is saying this. I don’t see this as progress at all. There seems to be a below-the-surface attempt to tame WeHo, and I have a feeling that some city council members who aspire to higher office might be a little embarrassed of us and want some some pretty new buildings to point to, and pictures of themselves standing in front of those buildings on their opening day.

  46. Alfredo – sounds like a bunch of sour grapes to me.

    Your rant is full of contradictions – “My objections also aren’t about my fear of Cooley’s competing with Revolver” and yet you spend the next paragraph going on about “new bars mean that the customers of the existing bars and restaurants will be further divided and distributed”. C’mon.

    And then, for a huge LOL moment, “Will these large businesses alter the demographics of the area—making it less gay”. We aren’t in Kansas, the city can easily absorb 9000sqf of new space – run by a gay operator that has been instrumental in developing a vibrant weho gay night life over the decades.

    The fact that there were few objections to the entire development speaks volumes. Your entire rant is nothing more than a veiled attempt at protecting your own selfish interests. Every new gay establishment in weho should be celebrated as it provides refreshing new options to the very demographic you’re so concerned.

  47. Couldn’t agree more with this piece. While, at first, I was so excited about that dead space being developed, now I’m thinking it may be a mistake to let David Cooley have free reign to create an updated version of the Abbey. I was at last night’s planning development meeting and was a bit astounded that very few people raised any of these types of concerns. I’m all about the city not dictating what businesses are able to open and where but there has to be some sort of continuity in city planning that really balances out this area of West Hollywood.

    Personally, I love that this area is a bar-heavy destination for LGBT but I’m also concerned that this is short sighted and we need to discuss how this will impact our neighborhood.

    At the end of the day, this is all probably a moot point anyway. It seems like this thing is on a fast track to getting opened regardless of any negative impacts it has on the area.

Comments are closed.