The Abbey, arguably the country’s biggest and most famous gay bar in West Hollywood, is officially on the market. Over the last 33 years, owner David Cooley transformed the Roberston Boulevard spot from a small cafe and bakery into a 9,540-square-foot restaurant, bar, club, and cultural hub.
As first reported by WeHo Times, the Encino-based real estate agency Marcus & Millichap of Brandon Michaels Group posted the listing in July. The Abbey’s sale could potentially transform this section of Robertson and Santa Monica Boulevard, also given reality star Lisa Vanderpump’s recent Pump closing. This section of WeHo is already in the midst of change due to the massive Robertson Lane development across the street, which will eventually include a hotel, event space, restaurants, and retail that incorporates the historic Factory building.
The real estate listing for 686 Robertson Boulevard describes the space as a “generational purchase opportunity to acquire one of the world’s most iconic nightclubs and restaurants, the Abbey and the Chapel at the Abbey, including the operating business, brand, trademarks, and trophy West Hollywood real estate.”
In 2006, Cooley sold a 75 percent stake to Sam Nazarian’s SBE Entertainment Group while remaining president. SBE boasted plans to bring the Abbey to other cities, but in a 2015 interview, Cooley noted that Nazarian pivoted to sell off his restaurants and nightlife group to focus on hotels. Cooley bought the Abbey back that year.
While the Abbey has been a queer cornerstone over the decades and has supported numerous LGBTQIA causes and fundraisers, the space has come under fire in recent years with accusations of staff misgendering trans patrons, as well as allegations of drugging, petty theft, and sexual assault.
LA’s queer community has faced significant shifts over the past three years. From the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city’s queer restaurants, bars, cafes, and clubs have faced an uphill battle with the closure of numerous longstanding spaces, including Oil Can Harry’s in Studio City; Flaming Saddles, Gold Coast, and the 37-year-old club Rage — all of which were in West Hollywood. WeHoville reports another major sale is in the works: Revolver. The 41-year-old bar on Santa Monica Boulevard near San Vicente is currently in escrow.
Eater reached out to the Abbey’s spokesperson, who did not issue a comment.