Gym Sportsbar WeHo, located at 8737 Santa Monica Boulevard, is closing permanently after being in West Hollywood for over 10 years. The gay sports bar celebrated its grand opening in October 2, 2009. It has become a staple in the LGBTQ+ community since it opened. It is known as the seasonal watering hole for local gay sports groups like gay Dodge Ball and the Varsity Gay League. The bar is also well known for their 2 for 1 happy hour.
When the bar celebrated it’s 10-year anniversary last year, no one thought it would shut down less than a year later, but according to Gym Sportsbar WeHo owners, Rich Schmutzler and Hunter Haliniak, not being able to open during the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll. The uncertainty of not knowing when the bar will be able to open again was one of the factors to why they were forced to shutter its doors.
Schmutzler says the other factor that shut them down was an inflexible landlord who was not willing to work with the owners to help keep them open for business.
“We’re making this post because we have some very difficult news that we need to share,” Schmutzler, said via a post on the bar’s social media. “It’s no mystery that this pandemic has been very difficult to small businesses, specifically bars and restaurants. The uncertainty of the situation, not knowing when we’ll be able to resume any kind of business–unfortunately coupled with a one two punch of a landlord who has been incredible inflexible in working with us in trying to get us through this difficult time has led us to the decision that we are going to be ending Gym Sports Bar WeHo in this location. It is not an easy decision. It is heart wrenching to say the least. We are enormously proud of what we have managed to create here, the family that has worked here, the family that has grown around it, all the amazing people who are friends and customers. Unfortunately there is just no half-full for us at this location. We will always be a friend of West Hollywood. We don’t know what the future holds. I wish we could be certain. We just know that we have to close here.”
“That said, we want to end on a lighter note,” Haliniak added. “Join us Wednesday. Virtually, we’ll set up a Gym account and we’ll set up a Wednesday party that we started back before we closed. It’s going to be 8-10, Wednesday, July 8th. Put on your wig. Turn out your Zoom. Have a cocktail and come celebrate with us. This isn’t the end. It’s probably the beginning of something else very special.”
“We trust that the community and the love we’ve shown will come back to us and will manifest for us a beautiful way,” Schmutzler said in the post. “but in the meantime, let’s celebrate”