The Abbey, iconic WeHo gay bar, is sold to tech entrepreneur. But the party goes on
The Abbey and the Chapel, longtime landmarks of West Hollywood’s gay nightlife scene, have been sold to a new owner, the business announced Wednesday.
Patrons of the historic spots were assured the current management team will stay in place and the restaurant and nightclub will remain open, the company announced along with its new ownership on Instagram.
“The Abbey is more than just a bar. It’s been a sanctuary for the LGBTQ+ community through tough and good times alike,” former owner David Cooley said in announcing the sale.
The restaurant and nightclub were bought by Tristan Schukraft, a tech entrepreneur who has long been a patron, Cooley said.
“This is both an honor and a significant responsibility,” Schukraft said. “I plan to respect and honor the Abbey’s history while bringing new ideas that reflect our evolving LGBTQ+ community and my personal approach to hospitality.”
Barney’s Beanery, which opened in West Hollywood in the 1920s, has recently attracted a Gen Z crowd. For young patrons, the dive bar offers them a new experience.
Schukraft said he has been going to the Abbey for years. It was the first gay bar he went to in Los Angeles.
The new owner lives in Puerto Rico, where he runs a hotel that caters to gay clients.
The sale comes just four months after the property was listed, but Schukraft said he was talking with Cooley before the business went up for sale.
Cooley opened the Abbey as a coffee shop in 1991 (though he himself had never tried coffee). He moved and grew the 1,100-square-foot hangout into the 14,000-square-foot behemoth restaurant and nightclub that it is today after the 2016 opening of the Chapel, a lounge expansion next door.
West Hollywood, famous for its nightlife, began distributing date-rape drug test kits to venues that serve alcohol and to some patrons.
The Abbey was founded on the concept of pride; in 2010, Cooley told The Times that when he was younger, patrons had to enter gay bars on Santa Monica Boulevard through the back door.
“When I opened up The Abbey, I said, ‘Open up the doors and be proud of who you are,’” he said.
Schukraft hopes to preserve and continue the Abbey’s legacy as the “cornerstone” of the gay community in West Hollywood, he said. Though he did not disclose the purchase price, Schukraft said it was not cheap.
“I can tell you that I am cutting back on the desserts when I go out to eat,” he said.
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