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Roosterfish, historic Venice gay bar, opens again

Roosterfish Venice Gay Bar

Venice’s historic gay bar Roosterfish has re-opened permanently. It closed in May 2016. Photo: Venice Pride.

VENICE — The iconic and historic gay bar Roosterfish — the last queer watering hole west of the 405 Freeway when it closed in May 2016 — is permanently back in business.

The Abbot Kinney Boulevard landmark, which had been open 37 years and is impossible to miss with it’s aqua blue exterior and a mural of a giant fish-headed rooster, will host a grand re-opening party tonight from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“I am super excited. This is the culmination of two years of hard work,” said Grant Turck, Venice Pride founder and board president, who spearheaded the effort to re-open Roosterfish.

Drink prices average from $12 for well cocktails to $16 for craft cocktails.

Happy hour drink prices are between $6 and $10.

World’s largest Gay Pride flag coming to Venice

WELCOME BACK ROOSTERFISH

Last summer, Turck, who had trademarked the Roosterfish name, learned that Patrick Brunet and Mario Vollera were Roosterfish’s new leaseholders. The three eventually signed an agreement that would revive the queer bar.

“Roosterfish is such an historical landmark that we wanted to make sure it won’t become another retail store,” Brunett said last year. “That’s 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 trio opened the bar last September for a one-time pop-up event with the goal of re-opening full time.

PRESERVING ROOSTERFISH

Brunet and Vollera, and new partners Alex Tapia and Vincent Tapia, also are contractually obligated to preserve, with Plexiglass, the renowned men’s restroom ceiling, which showcases a collage of vintage, gay male erotica images as well as the building’s outside facade, mural, and redwood roof, Turck said.

As part of the agreement, the partnership will pay Venice Pride an annual $40,000 licensing fee to use the name Roosterfish, and that money will be used to underwrite the event for 10 years.

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 LGBTQ 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 LGBTQ students.

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