Citing the Coronavirus, David Cooley Says He Is Closing The Abbey (Temporarily)

The Abbey, 692 N. Robertson Blvd.

The Abbey, West Hollywood’s best-known gay bar and restaurant, which attracts visitors from around the world as well as locally, has announced that it is closing temporarily because of the coronavirus,

“For 29 years, I have worked to make (The Abbey) … a safe place for our community to come together in good times and bad,” said owner and founder David Cooley in a recent post on Facebook. “Never in almost three decades, did I think I would have to post a

message like this. For the safety of our staff, guests and entire community, The Abbey will be closed temporarily.

“Just saying those words breaks my heart. I spend every day at The Abbey. It is my life. I know this will hurt my staff, some of which have been with me for 29 years, my loyal guests who have made The Abbey part of their lives, and my community, who will no longer have The Abbey as a safe space to support each other during this crisis.

The Abbey Cooleys
David Cooley

“The situation with COVID-19 is changing quickly. I don’t know whether we will be closed for a few days, a few weeks or even longer. Until our public health officials can assure us that it is safe, we will remain closed.

I am saddened that it has come to this. If staying open caused the pandemic to spread more quickly, I would be inconsolable. I know this crisis will pass. When it does, we will all celebrate together.”

Cooley’s announcement comes as a number of public events in West Hollywood have announced they are cancelling or postponing because of the virus. The City of West Hollywood has announced that it is cancelling through the end of June all official events and meetings, unless holding them is determined to be essential.  And Christopher Street West, the sponsor of the June 12-14 LA Pride festival and parade, says it will postpone to a future date.

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Jackson MacDougall
Jackson MacDougall
6 months ago

This should have happened weeks ago.

gary
gary
6 months ago

Good for Abbey. I walked by Roccos several times over the weekend and they are still pretty busy. Lots of dumb patrons drinking, dancing breathing into each other. I noticed a couple people with coughs and people looking really off (maybe just drunk, maybe sick or both). No doubt that would be the place that spreads it. The 20 somethings may not die from it but they can spread it to elderly and immune compromised who will, or at least suffer greatly. Very selfish/ignorant of these bars.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm
Things That Make You Go Hmmm
6 months ago
Reply to  gary

“drinking and dancing”!?……I thought Rocco’s was just a restaurant. Hmmmm.

hifi5000
hifi5000
6 months ago

I don’t know what to say about this.I go occasionally to the Abbey and Chapel and never had a problem. OK, the prices can be high, but a lot of places are like that. I think a lot of this has to do with the hysteria overcoming citizens of our state.Let Mr. Cooley made his decision and go with it.Other bars may or may not go along with him.Right now, there are other places to gather and the community needs to stick together to ride this out.

Larry Block
Larry Block
6 months ago

The 250 people limit does not apply to nightclubs. The arguments made below are not accurate. A) Mickys would have to close their capacity is 430 and b) unemployment is less then getting paid full wages, about half.

The Real Zam
6 months ago

In reality, David Cooley had little choice but to close The Abbey. Put simply, the venue’s capacity exceeds 250 people, the maximum size for gatherings established by the state. Given the layout, limiting the venue to that capacity is not something that can be practically accomplished. On top of this, a smaller crowd means fewer tips to go around. This will eventually reach an inflection point at which the extra income from unemployment benefits would exceed reduced income which means that many employees would make more money from unemployment than they would had they actually gone to work. This income… Read more »

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
6 months ago

silver lining.

Jose
Jose
6 months ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Touche!

Owen Greyson
Owen Greyson
6 months ago

As a person in business, as a person using common sense, unless ordered by the state or local government to close this person’s only reasons are business is down and he figured it’s cheaper to close until this blows over in 2 weeks rather than consult with his employees and ask them if they want to work or not. Customers will make their own minds. The other reason is simply for publicity to get free press by looking like they care about the community. As the others have said, then continue paying your employees. If this is the owners decision… Read more »

The Real Zam
6 months ago
Reply to  Owen Greyson

Put simply, the capacity of The Abbey is far more than 250 people. The state has banned gatherings of over 250 people. Even if Cooley were to limit capacity to 250, the long line to gain entrance would be something he cannot control and would make the size of the gathering exceed the mandated limit.

Jason K.
Jason K.
6 months ago

Some of my friends work at the abbey and they have told they will need for unemployment. If David cares about the community he would pay his workers who are part of our community or at least let them use any sick leave or vacation time they have so they have paycheck coming in. The community he speaks of has been very loyal to him and his establishments and has made him a very rich man. If my friends end on unemployment and can’t pay their bills I will find another place to spend my money in West Hollywood.

Jose
Jose
6 months ago

No love lost. Won’t be missed by Gay West Hollywood.

Cagada
Cagada
6 months ago

Omg the photo of David Colley is from like 40 years ago…. lol

Kyle Sorensen
Kyle Sorensen
6 months ago

It is common knowledge in the community that the Abbey is the least gay of the bars. Gay has been sectioned off to the much smaller Chapel (interesting – the dominantly gay room being the small separate one in the “most famous gay bar”… )

Mr. Cooley is from a time of welcoming non-gay communities to “come get to know us better” not realizing that those other communities would just take the place over. It then spread to Pump and beyond gobbling up the city.

The impulse was so well meaning, but not understanding human nature and unintended consequences.

Hunter
Hunter
6 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Sorensen

I disagree. The Abby still has a strong majority of gay clientele. What’s more important is that its straight patrons are well behaved, tolerant, and respectful of the gay community they are visiting. This is what we have wanted: a place where gay and straight can co-exist without issue. Alternatively, shunning the straight community would only demonstrate that gays could be just has intolerant and exclusive as those qualities that we have been fighting for decades to overcome.

kylekalio
kylekalio
5 months ago
Reply to  Hunter

I love how you use the word “tolerate”. That speaks volumes. Over the years, gay bars end up getting taken over by straight people b/c the majority always wins. And no, many of us don’t want a space where we can co-exist. In any city, the ratio of straight bars to gay is approx 100:1. WeHo is lucky to have a large concentration of them but they also serve gay people that live in places such as Winnetka and West Covina. I was in Palm Springs a few months ago and the two gay bars I went to were filled… Read more »

enemyofthestate
enemyofthestate
6 months ago

Remembering the Abbey when it was just a coffee shop.