A New Generation Leads WeHo

The New Faces of Gay Nightlife in West Hollywood

As I walk out of my front door at BlockParty and look left and right, I am excited and inspired by the new generation of LGBTQ business owners who have stepped up to make West Hollywood great again. Fresh blood, fresh ideas, new owners who love West Hollywood and are committed to our community.

West Hollywood is evolving. There is a generational shift among our businesses and business owners. A city built with the love and passion of gay business owners such as Scott Forbes, Don Zuidema, Rich Grossi, Tom Doherty, and many others are long gone. Michael Neimeyer stepped up to purchase the dated Four Star Saloon to create the vibrant Micky’s which is also on the market. The legends of Motherlode and Trunks still remain but there’s a new generation taking the reins of WeHo’s gay nightlife.
Many of us held tight during Covid. Others bailed. Flaming Saddles, Rage, and Gold Coast said goodbye. Fubar was down. Gym Bar announced their closing at the original location. PUMP closed at their famous corner location. Many bar owners faced rising costs and shrinking traffic.
The high rents demanded high volume. David Cooley, founder of the Abbey/Chapel held on and then made the decision to sell. Chris Miller opted to sell Revolver. St. Felix opted to sell their WeHo location. The faces of West Hollywood’s gay nightlife is changing.
Today, I want to introduce you to the future. As I walk out of my front door at BlockParty and look left and right, I am excited and inspired by the new generation of LGBTQ business owners who have stepped up to make West Hollywood great again. Fresh blood, fresh ideas, new owners who love West Hollywood and are committed to our community.
Say hi to Danny Santiago, the new managing partner of Revolver. Danny moved to LA from Boston in 2003 and lives in West Hollywood. He worked as a barback at Revolver and then at Fubar for eight years and came back to become the general manager of Revolver in 2020 just as the Covid pandemic hit.
The owner of Revolver at the time was Chris Miller, who lives in New York City and had just been named the executive producer of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Even though Revolver was closed, Danny would come in every day to sweep the patio, clean the rails, and windows. He got a part-time job to cover himself during the pandemic. He helped Jay and Michel who own Fubar also open their new venture at Schmitty’s.
Then Miller put Revolver up for sale. It was Danny’s job to show the space to the buyers. He opened the doors for a number of interested buyers not knowing his own future.
Miller entertained offers, but his goal was to keep the Revolver brand going. There were buyers who were willing to do that. But Danny had a dream too. Enter Rich King.
King was the best man at the owners of Fubar/Schmitty’s Jay and Michel’s wedding which Danny had also attended. King stepped up to the plate. Together they would pitch Miller on their plan and successfully navigate both the purchase and sensitive negotiations with the landlord. Today, Danny and Rich are the new faces behind the iconic Revolver.
Tristan Schukraft shocked many when he added the Abbey and Chapel to his stable of gay brands. The former model turned serial entrepreneur has deep West Hollywood roots. Although Schukraft lives in Puerto Rico, he spent years as a West Hollywood resident and was a two-time West Hollywood City Council candidate.
Schukraft is the founder of MISTR, an online-prep delivery service with two locations in West Hollywood. Schukraft also owns the Circo nightclub and Tryst hotel in Puerto Rico.
Tristan’s purchase of the Abbey and Chapel keeps the world’s most famous gay bar in gay-owned and operated hands, with dreams of expansion and the right person to make it happen. Schukraft is the closest thing to a gay Elon Musk, but fully draped in the rainbow.
Bobby Appelbaum is the leader of the band at “the Wild” restaurant and bar. The former St. Felix location is owned by Roger Taylor and his wife Serena, along with chef Michael Solis and Adam Lambert.
Bobby lives in West Hollywood with his husband and brims with enthusiasm and excitement about his role as general manager, working with great partners in his hometown. Originally from Kansas City, Kansas, he met his husband shortly after arriving in LA.
“I’m the GM, with a history in fine dining. I had always been drawn to St. Felix, and my husband is like, you manifested this! Some of the best people watching in LA is right here.” When asked about the owners, Appelbaum defers to the customers, “That is not my focus. My focus is the guests and the employees.”
Are the owners gay? I asked.
“Everyone is gay, but I don’t think Roger is because he is married to a woman he says with a big smile. Adam is in Australia doing the Voice. We are very queer-owned and queer-run. I’m so excited for this pride because I get to be a participant and a host!”
One of the owners, Michael Solis, is the chef.
“We have serious food going on. My favorite dish is the Churro French Toast. Saturday and Sunday we open for brunch. I think it is so special that our owner is in the kitchen cooking himself, with his family recipes.”
Erik Braverman is a 30-year resident of West Hollywood. Braverman and his husband Jonathan Cottrell are the new majority owners of GYM BAR, along with other WeHo residents John Manelski and Jordan Brusso.
“Joe Edwards lives just outside the WeHo-Beverly Hills border. Justin David and Jeff Healy live just outside WeHo in Hollywood,” Braverman said. “We are all WeHo!”
Braverman is a Senior Vice President of the Los Angeles Dodgers and brings a marketing savvy to WeHo’s most famous sports bar.
GYM BAR, which touts itself as the first and only openly gay sports bar in Los Angeles, now can tout a new authenticity with Braverman’s vision.
“We are working on interior design, remodeling, upgrades, and reimagining the food offerings altogether. I’m excited to be a part of my community in a more meaningful way. I love West Hollywood. I love sports and I love when the community comes together.”
With Braverman and team at the helm, we might expect to see a GYM BAR franchise in the future. Don’t be surprised if you see Cottrell drag his husband onto Shark Tank and make a deal with Mark Cuban to go national.
After all, all the faces above have a dream that is coming true.

Larry Block, the publisher of WeHoOnline.com, is also the owner of BlockParty. He can be reached at larryblock@hotmail.com.

Published with permission of WeHoOnline.com