Eleven Restaurant and Nightclub, a well-known gay venue in West Hollywood’s Boystown, is in the process of being sold to a couple known for their Country/Western gay bar in New York City.
“I still don’t have everything worked out, but it looks like it’s going to happen,” said Richard Grossi, who opened Eleven in 2007. Grossi said the sale only will be finalized if the buyers are able to get the necessary permits from the city and state agencies. The sale price reportedly is $1.5 million.
One crucial permit, from the state Board of Alcohol and Beverage Control, already has been granted to Flaming Saddles WeHo LLC. Flaming Saddles is owned by Jacqui Squatriglia and Chris Barnes, whose Flaming Saddles bar on Ninth Avenue in New York City has been described by The New York Times as “a homage to a frontier-town saloon, or perhaps to the set of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ (and having) a down-home sensibility rooted in a kind of nostalgia for places where the cowboys are real.”
Squatriglia and Barnes, who is her boyfriend, have said they want to open Flaming Saddles bars in gay neighborhoods across the country. Grossi said he likes the concept. “I think one of the problems we have here, we didn’t have a set identity,” he said, noting that bars and nightclubs in the city’s Boystown neighborhood typically feature various themed nights orchestrated by outside promoters. “Places that have a set identity do better.”
Grossi opened Eleven, which is at 8811 Santa Monica Blvd. at Larrabee, in February 2007 with a party hosted by Beyonce and People magazine. He designed the two-level space himself. The historic 1922 building was designed by Beverly Hills architect Asa Hudson and once housed the First National Bank of Sherman, which was the original name of the area that eventually became West Hollywood. Later it housed the Larrabee Sound Studio where performers such as Cher, Donna Summer, Patti La Belle and Prince did recordings.
Business owners in the Boystown area have complained about a decline in business in recent years. One bar, Rage, recently changed hands with its new owner promising to revamp its entertainment offerings to bring back the gay crowd it had lost.
Grossi said a recent remodeling of Eleven gave a boost to his nightclub business but that the restaurant business still suffered. “Our weekends are the best they’ve ever been,” he said of the bar business. “During the week, the food component is terrible –a money loser.”
Grossi said he loved managing Eleven, but the job is stressful. “I’ve been doing this for eight years. There’s the stress because I have to be here all the time. I’ve had enough for myself. It’s odd because I actually love it. But I think I just want to become a customer again.”