With Rent Up and Revenue Down Because of COVID-19 WeHo’s Gym Bar Closes

Gym Bar before the COVID-19 shutdown

The temporary closing of bars and restaurants because of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned into a permanent closing for Gym Bar, the popular gay sports bar at 8737 Santa Monica Blvd. It is the first of West Hollywood’s bars to announce that it is closing for good.

In a post today on Facebook, Hunter Haliniak and Rick Schmutzler, co-owners of Gym Bar, said an emotional farewell to the bar’s clients. It has been a regular meeting place for many, including the members of WeHo Dodgeball who frequently gather there after their games.

On March 16, Los Angeles County health officials ordered the closing of bars in Los Angeles County as part of an effort to reduce the exposure of people to others who might be infected with the COVID-19 virus. Then they were allowed to re-open on June 10 so long as they followed strict social distancing and sanitation rules. However, on June 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered that the bars be closed in response to an increase in COVID-19 infections in 19 counties, including Los Angeles County.

It’s said that Gym Bar already was feeling the financial impact of the closing of West Hollywood Park Auditorium because of the park renovation. Members of WeHo Dodgeball used to play at the auditorium and then rallied weekly at Gym Bar after the games.

Schmutzler said that in addition to the financial impact of COVID-19 he also had had to deal with “a really nasty one, two punch of a landlord who has been really inflexible in working with us.” Schmutzler didn’t elaborate, however WEHOville has learned that Gym Bar’s landlord is Elias Shokrian of Calitex LLC in Beverly Hills.

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hifi5000
hifi5000
3 months ago

This was bound to happen as the current COVID-19 restrictions made it hard to keep bars and restaurants open.I foresee bars being closed for the rest of the summer and you will see more closures in the near future.

I agree, to a point, with Eric Schmidt’s comment about guys needing to save for the future which is true.However,our culture does not promote thriftiness and the message about saving money will fall on deaf ears.If guys aren’t going to the bars,they will spend their money on something else.

Eric Jon Schmidt
Eric Jon Schmidt
3 months ago

This is a good opportunity for young people to realize how much they were spending in bars and how much they could have invested in their future and can now.

Supherb
Supherb
3 months ago

Stay home, stay safe and demand justice for Breonna Taylor

Jaitea
Jaitea
3 months ago

There are federal emergency grant and loan programs for the landlords due to COVID. They can claim they have had a loss in income due to their tenants being unable to pay with minimal documentation, presently. The landlords will be okay, as usual. They are available for the business owners as well, but the employees suffer the most.

David Abrams
David Abrams
3 months ago
Reply to  Jaitea

Do you have sources for this? I’d love to share with my landlord! Thanks!

Observer
Observer
3 months ago

I’m afraid this is but the tip of the iceberg.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
3 months ago

good to hear. these bars are not good for WH.

David
David
3 months ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Yes, why would you want to put a gay bar in West Hollywood? Gay bars are bad because they have a habit of attracting gay men.

Wilfredo
Wilfredo
3 months ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Gym Bar was one of the few remaining bars not inundated by the “Inland Empire” crowd. It didn’t have daily go-go boys in the windows and remained the feel of a safe haven for the local LGBT community that was interested in something other than Drag Race.

So why would you say that “these bars are not good for WH.”?
What’s your motivation?

I see this as a huge loss.

Randy
Randy
3 months ago
Reply to  Wilfredo

Wilfredo,

Exactly. Not to mention I made a ton of friendships there, it was a mellow crowd, not filled with screaming girls, and one of the most affordable places to have a cocktail on that strip. This is a big loss, and very sad.

The Real Zam
3 months ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

If you don’t like bars, you are living in the wrong city.

Kenton Torres
Kenton Torres
3 months ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

“These bars” (e.g., gay) are what made West Hollywood the destination it is

scott brody
scott brody
3 months ago
Susan Ursula
Susan Ursula
2 months ago
Reply to  scott brody

Wow No exaggeration on the landlord senior abuser owner. A whole week seniors stuck in apts because elevators not working? I can only imagine how hard it would be to get cooperation from the landlord. Too bad. Lady Red Couture was a fabulous addition too. I know you will miss her. RIP

greeneyedboy
greeneyedboy
3 months ago

This landlord made a huge mistake. They are not going to get a new tenant in there anytime soon.

The Coffee Bean space has been empty for 18 months now! And that was due to a rent increase.

David Abrams
David Abrams
3 months ago
Reply to  greeneyedboy

Isn’t the former Prova pizza spot in this building also still vacant? Although in fairness, Coffee Bean has closed almost every single location in LA, with plans to close much of the remaining.

greeneyedboy
greeneyedboy
3 months ago
Reply to  David Abrams

Yup still vacant. And you can find what they’re asking for the old coffee bean space on loopnet. It’s way higher than any other nearby property.

Liz
Liz
3 months ago
Reply to  David Abrams

OT but can I ask where you heard that re the Coffee Bean are closing the remaining LA stores? I’ve been watching their ongoing closures with horror…

Ragan
3 months ago

Explain to me why landlords expect bars to pay high rent during COVID-19. How is it BETTER business to let a bar close than give them a break on rent until we’re over the COVID hump? EITHER WAY THE LANDLORD MAKES NO MONEY! Letting the bar close means you’ve just killed a long-term tenant and will have to let the space remain empty for much longer than you would had you done the RIGHT thing. Gym Bar’s the only business that’s remained open in that space, other than Five Guys–which gets most of its business from people hanging at Gym.… Read more »

Jan Foster
Jan Foster
3 months ago
Reply to  Ragan

Before Gym Bar it was The Normandy room, a gay women’s bar

Tom
Tom
3 months ago
Reply to  Jan Foster

Before that I believe upstairs was Numbers, which John Waters called his favorite LA Gay bar (when it was on Sunset before moving to SMB)

Larry Block
Larry Block
3 months ago

The Chamber of Commerce offers a free mediation for commercial tenants and I urge every small business owner to take advantage of this free service before pulling the plug. Gym bar was a go-to hangout and a great part of our community village. There’s a ripple effect cause 5 guys depended on Gym Bar’s traffic,— Let’s all chip in and come up w the 3-4 months rent to #save the gym bar – ..If that would help at all…

Stockholm
Stockholm
3 months ago
Reply to  Larry Block

No because Calitex wnts to see them gone..eventually all of them there. If u read up on Calitex and especially Elias u see why and what stuff they are involved with. Not pretty. I’m not surprised by the unfortunate outcome of GYM bar WeHo.

kab1200
kab1200
3 months ago

Sad.