thisiswesthollywood.com

Perhaps the most popular bar in all of West Hollywood, if not Southern California, The Abbey celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2016.  But do you know the whole story of the “Best Gay Bar in the World”?

  • According to City records, the building where the Abbey is located was built in 1936–55 years before it would become The Abbey.
  • From 1946-1965, the building was home to Modern Records, a “pioneer in rhythm and blues,” where songs were recorded by Etta James, BB King and Little Richard.
  • The building would later become International Terra Cotta, selling large pots and statuary until The Abbey moved in and slowly took over the space.
  • The Abbey itself opened up across the street in 1991 in the location that is now Bossa Nova.
  • When it opened, The Abbey was nothing like the nightclub we know today, it was just a coffee shop.
  • According to owner David Cooley, in an interview with Frontiers, the coffee shop got its theme from the stained glass windows found in his business partner’s basement and its name because with just five letters, the “Abbey” could save costs on signage.
  • The longest serving Abbey employee, Roland, started in 1991 and still works in the bakery today.
  • In 1994, The Abbey moved across the street into the area where the bakery and patio bar are today.
  • In 1995, the Abbey received a beer and wine license, which was sold from out of the bakery.
  • In a WeHoVille profile on the Abbey, This Is West Hollywood publisher Scott Schmidt reminisced that during the 1990’s, “People would bring their books and study,” because it was one of the few places students under 21 could go in West Hollywood at night.
  • In 1997, The Abbey received its first full liquor license, laying the ground for their famous Mojito!
  • Also in 1997, The Abbey added a back patio area, immediately behind the bakery and patio bar, where the Cabanas and Cabana Bar are located today.  The bar was initially located between the Bar room and back patio but was moved to its current location on the northern wall in a later renovation.
  • In 1999, the longest-serving current bartender, Eddie J., started working at The Abbey after a stint bartending at The Roxbury on Sunset.
  • In 2001, the area currently occupied by the Abbey’s dance floor was added as a space to host private parties and special events.
  • Four years later, in 2005, The Abbey would fully take over the International Terra Cotta Building to its full 16,000 square foot configuration.
  • In 2006, Cooley entered a partnership with nightlife empresario and hotelier Sam Nazarian of SBE Enterprises
  • in 2009, LogoTV named The Abbey as “The Best Gay Bar In The World”
  • In 2010, The Abbey converted the private room into its dance floor during the last major renovation.
  • The next year, The Abbey petitioned the City to convert from a restaurant to a nightclub to allow for dancing on its dance floor and smoking in outdoor areas.
  • In 2015, Cooley bought back SBE’s interests in The Abbey
  • In 2016, Cooley opened The Chapel at The Abbey next door in the building which formerly housed Here Lounge, The Firehouse and Just Sweats–but that is a whole other story!
  • In 2017, The Abbey featured in a 7-episode reality TV series on E! names “What Happens at The Abbey”
  • Some of the cast of WHATA still work at The Abbey today!

Do you have a story about The Abbey, or a memory of a special event there?  Share it in the comments below and add to our History of The Abbey!