OpEd: The Anchors have fallen

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The “anchor” stores are usually the large stores at both ends of the mall. They are larger businesses that typically draw the consumer. The anchors employ more people, have larger marketing budgets, and set the tone for the community. A mall with strong anchor tenants will be a strong draw for the community at large. In any commercial footprint, a successful anchor will help to bolster the small local businesses and neighborhoods that surround it. Together, the anchors, the businesses, the employees and business owners create the vibe and spirit of the community they serve.

In West Hollywood’s Rainbow District we also have anchors. Just a few years ago,the “Fruit Loop” extended from the Flaming Saddles past Micky’s and Rage to the Abbey.  Along the loop there were many smaller bars, eateries, and community-oriented businesses. When I came to WeHo in the ’80s, Rage was the anchor and Studio One on Robertson was the other. Shortly thereafter, Micky’s was born, and soon after a little coffeehouse called the Abbey. Later, Larrabee Sound Studio became the Eleven bar, which became Flaming Saddles. The Fruit Loop was growing and expanding. There were four giant anchors: Rage/Heart, Abbey/Chapel, Eleven/Flaming Saddles, and the last surviving anchor, Micky’s. Over the last 12 months, all four of WeHo’s major anchors in the Rainbow District have changed hands or are about to change hands.

Michael Neimeyer and his crew have served the community since 1988. Year after year Micky’s continues to be the “soul” of WeHo. Micky’s is the face of gay WeHo with its open-air patio and nonstop energy. Micky’s draws a younger, more eclectic clientele. But every soul has its life and Micky’s almost said goodbye. A pending sale of the business fell out of escrow just before close last week. The sale was contingent on keeping the Micky’s name, brand, and management. Michael Neimeyer is an invaluable asset to our community. Micky’s and Michael are the longest-serving LGBTQ-owned and operated anchor in West Hollywood.

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The Abbey, perhaps the most famous gay establishment in the world, was founded in 1990 by David Cooley. The Abbey grew from a small coffeehouse where we used to play backgammon to the largest anchor in West Hollywood’s Rainbow District. The Abbey and its sister Chapel draw crowds from all over the world. This year, David Cooley called it quits and turned the reins over to Tristan Schukraft. The “Bloomingdale’s” of the Fruit Loop Mall will receive a jolt of fresh energy to keep this anchor of West Hollywood thriving. As Schukraft says, “the party is just getting started.”

Flaming Saddles was the anchor tenant at the other end of the Fruit Loop Mall. The fun, cowboy-themed bar and restaurant located at the corner of Larrabee and Santa Monica Blvd. Flaming Saddles left the space shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic began. Fantom Flower was set to open the first cannabis lounge and bar but, almost five years later, this end of the Fruit Loop Mall has been closed. Three other businesses that surround it remain closed. The once thriving stretch of Santa Monica Blvd from Palm Avenue to San Vicente sits half-empty or in the process of changeover.

The most iconic location of all was the infamous Rage. Located at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and San Vicente, Rage set the pace for West Hollywood’s gay nightlife for years. The snazzy “Heart” sequel billed itself as the largest dance club in LA but died a quick death. Its new owner, Jacob Shaw, and team will transform the iconic corner into “Beaches Tropicana.” Cuban food, Ricky Ricardo comes to mind. The front will change from sleek shiny black tile to warmer earth tones. The reimagined Tropicana will open during the day and bring life to a key corner in WeHo’s Rainbow District. But, it’s no Rage. Those days are gone.

Roosterfish

A wholesale turnover of West Hollywood’s nightlife has taken shape. A new Roosterfish will soon open at the former PUMP location, a key corner in the Fruit Loop. The Wild is open where the former St. Felix and “the Greenery” used to thrive. GYM BAR WEHO replaces the former Gym Bar sports grill that replaced Halal Guys in just four years. Revolver turned over too. There have been lots of changes inside the Fruit Loop. We just have to appreciate the owners and businesses that have loved and served us for so many years: the Motherlode, Trunks, Schmitty’s, and Hamburger Mary’s, so integral to the vibe and spirit of the community.

The anchors who have served this community for years have set sail. The future of WeHo and its Rainbow District depends on strong anchor tenants.   Let’s wish them luck.

  

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Harambe’s Vengeful Ghost
Harambe’s Vengeful Ghost
13 days ago

There will either be new ones or the city will further degrade until there’s a RETVRN to tradition.

Graham
Graham
16 days ago

Gym Bar and Schmitty’s are all younger than The Bayou but no mention. Thanks

Singleguywh
Singleguywh
14 days ago
Reply to  Graham

Gym Bar may have relocated, but IIRC it’s been in operation at least 15 years. The paint is barely dry at Schmitty’s and Bayou by comparison.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
16 days ago

I know it was way down the street but what happened to FUBAR? Mario Diaz’s BFD night and Adonis and others made that location one of my favorites. They certainly had the best dancers! At one point a lot of women began showing up and then would complain when they saw gay guys doing what gay guys do, so that had a negative impact, but all of a sudden FUBAR was closed and I have heard no mention of it.

JF1
JF1
16 days ago

The whole city has fallen.

West
17 days ago

Thanks for sharing this! There’s a lot of wisdom to glean from the stories of the older generation, how we should navigate change, and what’s worth preserving.

KoWeho
KoWeho
17 days ago

I’ve spent nearly 30 years living in West Hollywood, and in my opinion, Mickeys, Rage, and the Abbey were the cornerstones of the neighborhood. Flaming Saddles/Eleven was actually an empty building for many years and did not have the same impact. I believe Revolver was more of an anchor. I’m disappointed to hear that Michael’s deal fell through. It’s unclear from the article whether the buyer did not keep the team or the name/trademarks or if Michael did not want to sell them. I hope something progresses there; Michael deserves less stress. I haven’t been this excited about this neighborhood… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
17 days ago
Reply to  KoWeho

Before Revolver it was the legendary Blue Parrot; change is part of the ecology of Boy’s Town (a term I find less offensive than ‘the Fruit Loop”).
Rocco’s has transformed a previous dead space and Botega Louie is a vibrant attraction; reports of the Abbey’s demise are certainly premature. Sure we miss Cafe D’Etoile and Studio One but we need to celebrate the new rather than simply bemoaning the venues of our distance youth.

Curtis
Curtis
15 days ago
Reply to  Larry Block

I have never heard it referred to as the Fruit Loop…only Boys Town

BloodshotEyedGuy
BloodshotEyedGuy
17 days ago

I am so thankful everyday for having been able to experience what true “community” meant and felt like while living in WeHo since the ’80s up to when it chsnged considerablyonly a few years ago. What a fantastic time to be out, proud, and gay. We called Santa Monica Boulevard “the Catwalk,” because the guys were generally stunning, and were real-life (not Internet) celebrities, porn superstars, and CK models who happened to live and play in WeHo and dance alongside us at Rage and Studio One. I’d see Ellen DeGeneres, Pete Burns from Dead or Alive, and “Fame” star Gene… Read more »

SeeMe
SeeMe
17 days ago

Thank you, Larry. I feel so grateful I came out long before cell phone and social media became the dominant means of connecting. Maybe it’s a romantic memory due to nostalgia, but West Hollywood felt so friendly and neighborhoody in the 90s. You could walk into any bar or club and meet someone while you waited for your friends to show (or even after) and actually feel connection in real time. Alas, time moves on but it only makes my gratitude deeper.

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