Roosterfish, historic LGBTQ bar in Venice Beach, to re-open

The iconic and historic LGBTQ bar Roosterfish — the last queer watering hole west of the 405 Freeway when it closed in May 2016 — will re-open Saturday for a pop-up event and is scheduled to officially be back in business full-time by the end of year. Photo: Venice Pride.

VENICE BEACH — The iconic and historic LGBTQ bar Roosterfish — the last queer watering hole west of the 405 Freeway when it closed in May 2016 — will re-open Saturday for a pop-up event and is scheduled to officially be back in business full-time by the end of year.

Roosterfish Revived will feature three DJs (Glenice_ Venice, AidenRamos, and Jason Stemmler) and take place from noon to midnight.

Tickets, online or at the door, is $5, and the event is a fundraiser for Venice Pride.

Roosterfish is located at 1302 Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Roosterfish’s closing last year was the catalyst for Grant Turck to organize Venice Pride, where he serves as founder and board president.

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In July, Turck learned that Patrick Brunet and Mario Vollera were Roosterfish’s new leaseholders. Earlier this month, Turck, Brunet, and Vollera signed an agreement that would revive the queer bar with the same name by the end of the year. They later conceived idea for the pop-up party.

“I was over the moon happy,” Turck said. “The Roosterfish is an important place to me. It’s where I met my first boyfriend and my first best friend.

“Re-opening Roosterfish shows many people in the LGBTQ community that there is a place for them on the westside,” he said.

HISTORIC LANDMARK

In an email interview with LA Weekly, Brunet said, “Roosterfish is such an historical landmark that we wanted to make sure it won’t become another retail store; that is why we contacted the landlord and convinced him to give it to us.

“Venice’s identity was forged from the melting pot of nationalities, cultures and ambitions,” he said. “Reopening Roosterfish is a cultural act.”

The mural adorning the outside of the LGBTQ bar was painted by Puerto Rican Alexis Diaz, aka La Pandilla, in 2013.

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ROOSTERFISH NAME

Turck has trademarked the name Roosterfish. As part of the agreement, Brunet and Vollera will pay Venice Pride an annual $40,000 licensing fee to use the name Roosterfish. That money will be used to underwrite the event for 10 years.

PRESERVE THE CEILING

Brunet and Vollera also are contractually obligated to preserve, with Plexiglass, the renowned men’s restroom ceiling, which showcases a collage of vintage, gay male erotica images.

“I was greatly relieved the ceiling was still there,” Turck said. “People always talked about the ceiling. It’s very architecturally significant.”

Apart from the pop-up party, no other events are scheduled at Roosterfish until it re-opens before the end of the year, he said.

“We can all work together,” Turck said, “to make Roosterfish a success.”

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About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBT community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBT students.