Revolver’s Alfredo Diaz Takes His Objections to ‘Cooley’s’ to the WeHo City Council

Cooley's as seen from Santa Monica Boulevard
Cooley’s as seen from Santa Monica Boulevard

Alfredo Diaz, co-owner of the Revolver video bar in West Hollywood’s gay “Boystown,” will take his campaign against Cooley’s, the “gastropub” that nightlife entrepreneur David Cooley has planned for the same neighborhood, to the West Hollywood City Council on Monday.

Alfredo Diaz
Alfredo Diaz

The Council will hold a public hearing on Diaz’s request that it overrule a decision by the city’s assistant community development director to grant a development permit for Cooley’s. An earlier appeal by Diaz of that decision was rejected by the city Planning Commission.

Cooley’s is part of what looks to be a significant redevelopment of the south side of Santa Monica Boulevard just east of Robertson. On the corner, Lisa Vanderpump and her husband, Ken Todd, are developing a gay lounge called P.U.M.P. on the lot once occupied by Java Detour, a coffee bar. A few hundred feet east, Cooley, founder of The Abbey, has taken over three vacant spaces and plans to open his restaurant and bar with an outside patio in the front facing Santa Monica Boulevard and one in the rear facing West Hollywood Park. Diaz has objected to the “conditional use permit” that the city granted to Cooley’s, arguing that a future tenant or property owner may take advantage of it to turn the space into a nightclub rather than the restaurant and pub that David Cooley proposes. He also has objected to what he sees as Cooley’s possible impact on users of West Hollywood Park.

In his appeal to the City Council, Diaz raises several objections and makes several requests.

  • That approval of Cooley’s be delayed until the master plan for and construction of the adjacent West Hollywood Park is completed to ensure Cooley’s will be an appropriate complement to the park.

The city’s Community Development Department (CDD) argues that the conceptual design arrived at by the park’s developer anticipates shops and restaurants bordering the park and that it will be shielded from Cooley’s to some degree by basketball courts that now sit at the north end of the park.

  • That the property fails to meet city requirements for parking spaces.

The CDD says that while the rear patio of Cooley’s will eliminate nine of the 13 onsite parking spaces currently behind the location, Cooley’s will be able to use the city’s parking credits program to acquire permits for additional spaces that would be found in the West Hollywood Library Parking Garage and other places.

  • That Cooley’s be allowed to operate only from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

The CDD notes that it rejected Cooley’s initial request to be allowed to stay open until 4 a.m. It says the approved closing time of 2 a.m. is consistent with that of other bars and restaurants in that nightlife area of West Hollywood.

  • That Cooley’s liquor sales be capped at 35 percent of the gross sales revenue received from its sale of food.

The CDD says that the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control requires that the license for a restaurant that serves liquor must have a majority of its revenue come from food sales rather than alcohol sales.

  •  That DJs, subwoofers (loudspeakers that transmit low bass sounds) and live entertainment not be allowed.

The CDD says that its conditional use permit bars the use of subwoofers and that live entertainment can be offered only in compliance with the city code and entertainment business license. The city allows a business 12 special event permits a calendar year during which live entertainment can be offered.

  • That tables and chairs, except for those around the bar, be of a standard height and that occupancy be limited to one and a half times the seating capacity of the space.

These proposals are apparently designed to ensure that Cooley’s remains more of a restaurant than a bar.  The CDD  said  that no more than 10 tables can be higher than 36 inches and that it already has established an occupancy limit of 459 people, which likely will be reduced because of a Planning Commission decision that Cooley’s reduce the proposed size of its rear patio.

  1. I really can’t believe the number of “On Sale” establishments the state has allowed to open up in such a small area. With that said Cooleys has every right to open a restaurant at that location. Not one bar has parking along there, it wasn’t required when these buildings were built. I agree however that the business plan should not be able to change if the restaurant fails. The House of Blues, a real pain in the ass since they started constructing it, was allowed to change their business plan with the promise additional parking would be built. That was about twenty years ago and now the plan is to close it down and redevelop the land. And don’t forget, Rage was originally opened as a restaurant and that failed. It probably lead to the demise of Studio One.

  2. Yeah, SL, I’m giving it a rest because I see there’s no point. In this, and in previous threads on this topic, I have stated the case very clearly, but you will never get it. I’ve learned that when you scratch the surface with some people, all you get is more surface.

  3. BlueEyedBoy, it must be demoralizing to have Diaz’s on words contradict your defenses of him. You’re non-answers when you’re confronted with Diaz’s own language that does not support your assertions about what Diaz really wants is akin to 1984-doublespeak. Give it a rest. The council and most everyone else saw through yours and Diaz’s ploy to circumvent fair and reasonable competition.

  4. PeteP, go to the archive and read what has been said on this topic. I don’t feel like repeating myself. You will have to use your critical thinking skills because it’s easy on first glance to conclude that Diaz is trying to eliminate the competition, but that is not what is motivating him. It’s bigger than that.

  5. BlueEyedBoy: Give me a break. How does Diaz’s demand that Cooley’s close by midnight have anything to do with preserving WeHo’s heritage?? It’s about handicapping your competition and everyone knows that.

  6. You’re wrong, SL, but my explaining it one more time isn’t going to change your mind because you clearly know what you know.

  7. 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.

    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?

    BlueEyedBoy: The above comments deal with the issue of competition. Guess who wrote them. Diaz is afraid of other businesses taking away his pool of gay customers.

  8. I’ll say it again, PeteP, this is not about competition in business; it’s about preserving what WeHo has always been. Pull up the archives and read what Diaz has said about this, and forget your preconceived notion that he wants only to eliminate competition.

  9. So let me get this straight (no pun intended), the owner of Revolver (which has ZERO parking spaces) is complaining about another bar with not enough parking. If that’s not enough, Revolver (which is open until 2:00 am and is located adjacent to a residential area) is damanding that Cooleys (which is not in a residential area) must close by midnight on weekends. Are you kidding me??? If Revolver agreed to live by the same conditions it is demanding from Cooley’s, I would respect this battle. However, that’s clearly not the case here.

  10. I for one am all for a good Restaurant and Pub with reasonable food and alcohol sales, that said, I think Diaz is right on all points, adding a great place to gather and eat is way more important for this City than adding another Night Club! Reasonable people that keep reasonable hours and whom drink reasonably would not be served properly if the loopholes are left open to interpretation! I say close them and make sure that this is and stays as a Restaurant and pub! I like the 35% ratio on food and alcohol sales! What I do not like is Alcohol Consumption being viewed from the Park. That just sends to many mixed signals about the Nature of our City!

  11. Samuel, it’s not about eliminating competition; it’s about changing the culture of WeHo. Diaz isn’t suggesting it would happen right away, but they could be setting the stage for Cooley’s to become a very different venue than what they would be in their first few months of operation. He is trying to lock Cooley’s in to be only what they say now they intend to be.

  12. Making Weho newer and glitzier is fine — the whole city is going that way — but parking really is going to be a problem here. On most weekends, the library parking as well as the high-rise parking lot across from it are filled up by 11pm already. This does not take into account the new traffic generated by Cooleys. What does the city or Cooleys plan to do about that? Weekend traffic, especially 10pm and after, are Weho’s bread and butter. But there is no realistic parking plan in place for this new venue and this time slot. Seems like the more pressing issue to be concerned about rather than seat heights.

  13. Has anyone noticed that the Factory and Ultra Suede no long have any gay events now that Revolver is packed on weekends? Did Alfredo Diaz think about the consequences to that 40 year gay institution before opening his bar? What entitles him to an anticompetitive freeze on free enterprise that he never suggested until his bar became the new hotspot on the boulevard?

  14. Diaz is a courageous and forward-thinking man in that he is willing to do what is right in looking out for the best interest of all of us, when he also knows that people like Mike and Jess K (who, by the way, is a Registered Voter) can’t see beyond next week and have no concept of political strategy by business powerhouses, or unintended consequences by those who won’t know what hit them when Cooley’s becomes something altogether different from what they are saying now they plan to be. Diaz is a BUSINESSMAN who seems to know an awful lot about the ways other business people can maneuver for their own self-interests that may very well not be in the best interest of the community.

  15. How did David Cooley and SBE know to buy the spots from the city before they had a lease and before the program was canceled ?
    If any Other business patio encroached outside their allowed use along smb the city would site and stop them
    Do we have to wait until someone is killed along robertson outside of the abbey? Worse yet if a drunk or distracted driver jumps the curb and plows down a line of people ? Or should The abbey and Here use the space they have on the patio to control their lines ? What the other bars along smb as well ? Does this even conform with ADA ? Where is our city when it comes to public safety ? People burning in festivals, running in the streets, valet stations with no lites markings or cones encroaching farther into the lanes ,and pedestrians getting killed in the cross walks because either the driver or the walker is not paying attention.
    It all matters everyone.

  16. Yes, ditto Shawn T.

    All those who see this simply as Revolver v Abbey are missing the point… Regulated expansion. Cooley isn’t remodeling an existing high-capacity venue (he’s creating a new restaurant-club where very different type businesses lived before, just like he did with the Abbey (which was 1/3rd bar but 2/3rds an old pottery store before.). Cooleys, while I like the idea of a nice restaurant, is substantially different from everything else in that block is scale. Will it play loud techno music like the Abbey? Will it have lines encroaching onto the sidewalk like Abbey? Anyone here try to navigate Robertson’s sidewalks when lines surround Here, Abbey and the clubs du jour on the west side of R? You can’t. Because instead of utilizing the footprint of their building to house these lines, they take over the sidewalk. Forcing pedestrians into the streets. That’s one thing on Robertson, but how about busy SMB? How far is his patio going to be on the sidewalk? The add a line on top or that? Now, the conditions being asked about operating hours, food to alcohol sales and table height help keep this a “restaurant” and not a back door nightclub.

  17. I think the mandated amount of parking spaces should not be ignored. As more and more density is inserted into weho and everyone complains they cant find a parking space, why would we want a new property to open with out the minimum required? Whats the point of having code on the books to stop avoid new construction with out parking spaces if its just ignored? The parking credits program is a way for developers to push more into their footprint than having the correct parking spaces would require. I also thought the parking space credit program was discontinued because of the flaws in its deign, that being just paying the city money to get away with setting up shop with not the correct parking spaces? The reason there isn’t enough parking ALREADY in #weho is becuase new construction has been allowed to side step the parking code again and again.

  18. So funny, “Stop Cooley from having a bar on the park” !!! DUH!!! Have you been to the ABBEY? Their outside North Wall is on the Park. HERE and Mother Lode are both on the same Alley that Cooley’s will butt up against. Have not measured the distance from the back of the building, across the Alley, to where the park begins, but it is what? 15-30 ft.?
    PLUS how many folks are taking advantage of the West Hollywood Park in the evening?

  19. What on earth is Revolver wasting everyone’s time over? He has a bigger bar just across the street, Eleven; and one in the same block, Mickey’s. Why on earth is he worried about one a full 100 yards away! Would he also complain if TRUNKS wanted to remodel and potentially take away some more of his patrons? Quit WHINING and instead of harassing everyone, put some bucks into your own club with better lighting, better sound system, better beverages, better entertainment, and food service, if you feel that is what is possibly going to hurt poor little Revolver. NO customer stays in one club all night in WeHo. They wander from bar to bar to bar. Just wait until Revolver hears about yet ANOTHER new bar opening in his immediate area!

  20. Oh gawd Alfredo – can you shut up already. Don’t you worry, no one is planning to encroach in your sugar pop video-bar market …. I’m sure you’ll continue to do just fine moving forward. Unless of course the market is looking for something a little high-brow too, which of course NOTHING IS WRONG WITH THAT EITHER. Both can coexist. Imagine that!
    Now enough with the silly objections on chair and table heights, and operating hrs that end at 11pm (HUGE LOL)…because you sound silly and obviously biased with your own interests.

  21. I’m not a huge fan of Cooley’s being built…but I think it’s better than the empty shops there now. I think Diaz needs to just focus on his great, historic bar. Revolver is a great 80s video bar! He has completely different clientele than the people who will be going to Cooley’s. Not all of us like the Abbey and I’m sure not all of us will like Cooley’s…and the majority of people bar hop while in Weho. Revolver is always a stop. So he will probably get even more business from Cooley’s.

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