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West Hollywood

On a wing and a prayer, a WeHo landmark survives



WEST HOLLYWOOD – The Abbey is one of the most well-known gay bars in the world, its fame and endurance owes everything to the business savvy and ambition of its founder, David Cooley. The nearly 30-year old Weho institution began as a cake shop and cappuccino bar in 1991. After withstanding the brutality of the AIDs epidemic and the instability of the 2008 recession, the economic impact of the Covid crisis almost shut down the LA landmark for good.

Its owner, David Cooley, sat down with the Blade reflecting on the difficulty of the past year and the excitement of the years to come. 

Once upon a time in the 90’s, Cooley was working at Wells Fargo when one of his clients came in and told Cooley about how he had started a coffee shop. “I studied his business and thought, ‘I can do the same’” Cooley said. He bought a small dry cleaning joint, appropriately  called Pride Dry Cleaners, starting off with an espresso machine and a few cakes.

He stayed there for three years, establishing his presence in the neighborhood and becoming friends with the surrounding businesses. It was then that the landlord across the street, a friend and fellow gay man, asked if Cooley would like more space to expand his coffee shop. The new building is what is known today to be The Abbey.

Over the years, Cooley’s new coffee shop added beer and wine, then a full bar, and then a dance floor – constantly evolving, growing and improving. Like a game of Monopoly, Cooley steadily bought more and more square footage, and then finally bought the real estate. In 2017, he added the very popular sidebar, The Chapel as an expansion of The Abbey. Now in 2021, he oversees The Abbey, The Chapel, The Abbey Within (a chic new sidebar, with an intimate feel) and Out on Robertson – his latest venture with the City of West Hollywood. 

The Abbey (Blade file photo by Noah Christiansen)

Out on Robertson transformed a block of Robertson Boulevard into a pedestrian zone, giving the surrounding businesses a boost. The block between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue will be closed to cars each weekend. It’s been a big success for The Abbey and many of the neighboring spots, with long lines in front of every business.

Cooley was instrumental in making the new project happen. “I waited 6 hours at the City Council meeting to give my support for Out on Robertson” he said. Robertson is one of several West Hollywood street blocks under construction right now, with a new park opening up in September. 

One of Cooley’s reasons for launching Out on Robertson was “to beautify the neighborhood. I’m staring at construction, I’m staring at boarded up buildings and nothing is going on,” he said. Cooley told the Blade he had considered semi-retirement before the joint project, but the possibilities brought on from Out on Robertson re-sparked his appetite. 

The Abbey is an institution, in many ways it’s a small city. Pre-Covid, with dancers and security, there’d be well over 300 employees on any given weekend night. These days, not including dancers or live performers – who were only recently allowed outside – there are at least 180 people on the payroll.

He credited his staff as the reason for The Abbey’s success, and its strength during these difficult months. “We run our business as a family business,” Cooley explained, “my average staff person has been here for almost 20 years. It’s difficult to know your employees are not working since so many rely on their tips. It’s challenging not having the unknown known.”

The past fifteen months have kept Cooley and his employees on their toes, they’ve opened and closed four times, sometimes with only a few hours of notice. “Twice I didn’t think The Abbey would make it. I didn’t think we would make our 30th anniversary, and that hurt me a lot,” he reflected.

Thanks to the astounding strides The Biden Administration has made in issuing vaccinations, Cooley and some of the other WeHo businesses are at long last allowed to breathe a bit easier.

Like many others in West Hollywood, Cooley optimistically listed the exciting new developments around town. “It shows life,” Cooley said, “people are so excited to get back on the dance floor.”  Updates arrive almost every hour from go-to gay bars such as Motherlode, Trunks and Revolver, to new spots on the strip like Stache or Lance Bass’ untitled mega club.

Cooley’s thoughts on Lance Bass, and Bass’s own game of Monopoly? “I’m proud of him. And I’m happy to see signs say ‘leased’ not ‘for lease’.” By the fall, perhaps The Abbey will be able to return to once again throwing some of the most lavish parties in West Hollywood. 

(Photo courtesy of David Cooley)

The Abbey celebrates its 30th Birthday this September, it’ll be a party to remember.

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West Hollywood

WeHo is working to shut down scam pop-up COVID testing sites

Free walk-up COVID-19 PCR and rapid testing is available at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station front parking lot



Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Demand for COVID-19 testing in Los Angeles County has skyrocketed during the past several weeks. Sharply rising COVID-19 case counts and positivity rates coupled with the aftermath of holiday gatherings and travel has led to an unprecedented demand for testing.

Unfortunately, this demand has led to scammers distributing and setting-up fraudulent COVID-19 testing sites, some of which are requiring those seeking tests to pay a fee and/or provide a social security number.

As a reminder, community members should not have any out-of-pocket costs for a COVID-19 test or be providing their social security number. Free testing options are available, and public and private medical insurance companies are required to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment without charging any co-pays.

The City’s Code Compliance Division is working in coordination with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station to shut down scam pop-up testing sites. Community members who are concerned about illegitimate testing sites may reach out to the City by calling the Code Enforcement Hotline at (323) 848-6516.

The City of West Hollywood is getting the word out that COVID-19 testing is available for free to anyone in LA County, regardless of health insurance or immigration status.

If you are experiencing symptoms or if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, visit

Learn more about COVID-19 tests at

West Hollywood community members should first call a healthcare provider for a COVID-19 test. For people who cannot get a test through a healthcare provider, free testing options include:

  • COVID-19 Testing at Plummer Park – Los Angeles County coordinates a testing site at Plummer Park, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. The testing site is open each week from Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. adjacent to the West Hollywood Community Center at Plummer Park in the South Parking Lot. Tests are administered by Fulgent Genetics. Appointments are required. People interested in getting a test should pre-register for an appointment at People getting tests should bring ID and confirmation number to the appointment.
  • Pick-Up COVID-19 Testing Kit Program – Los Angeles County Health Services has launched a program to increase and facilitate access to COVID-19 tests. The program allows residents to pick up a PCR test kit and return it at designated locations, which includes the COVID-19 West Hollywood testing site at Plummer Park. Results will be available within 24-48 hours. For details, visit:
  • COVID-19 Testing at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station Front Parking Lot – Free walk-up COVID-19 PCR and rapid testing is available at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station front parking lot, located at 780 N. San Vicente Boulevard, on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Please note, this location is closed on holidays.) The lot has limited parking capacity; metered street parking is available nearby. No appointment is necessary. Testing is available at no cost to anyone four-years-old or older and is available regardless of insurance or citizenship status. Testing is sponsored by The Testing Co. and is hosted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Community Advisory Council.
  • Los Angeles County Testing Sites Across the Region – If you are unable to secure an appointment right away and need a test quickly, there are many testing sites regionally. Visit:
  • Free Shipped At-Home Tests – As part of a new federal program, every home in the nation is eligible to order four free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are free and orders will usually ship in 7 to 12 days. Visit for details and to order tests.
  • At-Home Tests for Purchase at Stores, Pharmacies, and Websites – Before buying a test kit online, check the website that is selling it and find out if the test is authorized on the FDA EUA test webpage. Learn about at-home COVID-19 testing by visit the CDC self-testing webpage or the FDA’s At-Home Tests webpage area.

Additional information, such as links to West Hollywood-area drug store chains offering vaccinations, is available on the City of West Hollywood’s website at in the Vaccines and Testing Information section.

Officials from the LA County Department of Public Health continue to remind community members about the importance of getting vaccinated, getting boosted, getting tested, and masking-up; these remain critical to stop the spread. For details, visit

For people without access to a computer or the Internet, or people with disabilities, an LA County call center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to help schedule appointments at (833) 540-0473.

The City of West Hollywood remains in a declared local emergency in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. West Hollywood City Hall is open for in-person transactions by appointment.

Visitors to City Hall and City facilities are required to adhere to vaccine verification requirements. Click here for details.

To make an appointment, visit

City Hall services remain accessible by phone at (323) 848-6400 and via the City’s website at City of West Hollywood coronavirus information is available at

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood will engage community in MLK Jr. Day of Service

Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, January 17, 2022, is the 27th anniversary of the Day of Service that celebrates his life & legacy



Los Angeles Blade graphic

WEST HOLLYWOOD – In January 2022, the City of West Hollywood will continue its tradition of joining hundreds of communities across the country in a National Day of Service to commemorate the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday by providing an opportunity for community members to make an impact locally with a donation drive for people who are experiencing homelessness.

The City of West Hollywood, in partnership with West Hollywood Elementary and Friends of West Hollywood Elementary (FOWHE), will be collecting monetary and gift card donations to support new socks, blankets, and sleeping bags for the City’s Homeless Initiative, which partners closely with nonprofit service providers, the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, and Los Angeles County agencies to provide a wide variety of services aimed at reducing homelessness and supporting community members who are experiencing homelessness.

This year’s City of West Hollywood Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service activity reflects the desires of students from West Hollywood Elementary to help those most in-need in the community.

Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, this year’s City of West Hollywood Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service will take place as a two-week virtual donation drive instead of an in-person Day of Service event.

It will run from Saturday, January 15, 2022 to Monday, January 31, 2022. Donations can be made online at or donations of physical gift cards or of personal checks made out to ‘City of West Hollywood’ may be mailed to:

West Hollywood Homeless Initiative/MLK Day of Service

West Hollywood City Hall

8300 Santa Monica Boulevard

West Hollywood, CA 90069

The City is, additionally, encouraging donations to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center, which has posted a “CARE 4 Youth Essentials” wish list on Amazon at

The City of West Hollywood would have hosted its tenth-annual clothing drive for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center on Highland in January 2022, but due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, this year the City is instead encouraging virtual donations of needed supplies that will be distributed to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth who are experiencing homelessness.

For more information about the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center, please visit

The City of West Hollywood encourages community members who seek to make a difference to volunteer in response to the urgent call and unprecedented need for volunteers during these uncertain times.

To find out more about local volunteer opportunities with the City of West Hollywood’s community partners, please visit

For addition information about virtual and in-person volunteer opportunities to address critical needs, please visit California Volunteers at or call (888) 567-SERV; visit Volunteer Match at; or visit LA Works at or call (323) 224-6510.

The City’s West Hollywood Homeless Initiative seeks to address homelessness with a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, collaborative response. For more information about the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative, including ways to help and resources for those in need, please visit or call (323) 848-6590.

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, January 17, 2022, is the 27th anniversary of the Day of Service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday was designated as a National Day of Service by Congress in 1994. Each year, the City of West Hollywood participates in this call to action.

For more information about MLK Day of Service activities and recognitions across the nation, please visit

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service please contact Larissa Fooks, the City of West Hollywood’s Community Events Coordinator, at (323) 848-6413 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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West Hollywood

British tourists robbed at gunpoint in WeHo area caught on video

“I’ve never even seen a gun before, let alone have one at my head,” he added. “I honestly thought I was going to lose my life at one point”



Screenshot via KTLA

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Two young British men who had been visiting a nightclub in the area of 961 N. La Cienega Blvd. were accosted by robbers as they left the club to catch an Uber.

Cellphone video by a witness caught the robbers struggling with one of the victims KTLA reported.

William Saunders, who identified himself as one of the victims in the robbery, said that he and his friend had just left a nightclub and were hailing an Uber ride when they were approached by the robbers.

“Guys with their hoods pulled tight, could hardly see their faces, jumped out at us, grabbed us,” Saunders said. “One of them had a small handgun on him, pointed it to my head, told me to give him my watch, my bag and my phone.”

Saunders said he threw his watch to the floor, pushed the robber and ran into a restaurant, where he learned that there was video of the assailants wrestling with his friend, ripping his bag off him and taking his watch.

Deputies from the West Hollywood substation patrolling the area responded immediately. In a statement, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that the victims were accosted by two suspects wearing hoodies and that a firearm was displayed. The suspects were able to get away with what one of the victims described as a bag that contained expensive watches, their passports and an unknown amount of cash, the Sheriff’s Department confirmed.

“We’re visiting from England,” Saunders told KTLA. “Only one night in L.A. and it has ended like this.”

“I’ve never even seen a gun before, let alone have one at my head,” he added. “I honestly thought I was going to lose my life at one point.”

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