How’d it happen?
Venice throwbacks who’ve managed to hold on amid the gallimaufry of gentrified emptiness spreading across the boulevard endlessly debate the moment when Abbot Kinney went from being the artery that supplied blood (i.e., whiskey) to the country’s most nonconformist beach community. Many point to the April 2012 issue of GQ magazine, which dubbed AK “the coolest block in America.” Locals embraced the honor with enthusiasm normally reserved for being chosen for jury duty. And while the GQ nod no doubt helped raise Abbot Kinney’s profile among certain undesirables (i.e., those who read GQ) the die was cast long before that article came out.
Remember Pinkberry? It opened in 2007. Local rabble-rousers like to crow that they eventually “shut it down,” but the fact is the place endured for almost three years. Nailed it! Eventually!
Louie Ryan owns the Townhouse in Venice along with Hatchet Hall in Culver City. He’s been around a long time and has one word to explain what’s happened to Abbot Kinney. If you said “greed,” you win a 50-cent-off coupon to Vince (tell ‘em Martin Shkreli sent you).
“It’s just marketing,” says Ryan. “There are businesses out there with very deep pockets who view having a shop on that street as strictly brand building. There’s a lot of money to be made right now if you own property on Abbot Kinney.”
Indeed, along with Vince, the AK has seen a string of fashionably low-key high-profile brands open up shop such as Warby Parker, rag & bone, and Junk Food Clothing Co. Most of which took down a long term, beloved resident of the strip. And, just to spell it out so even Trump voters can understand it, THESE PLACES THEY KILLED ARE THE VERY REASON THE NEIGHBORHOOD WAS COOL IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Ryan is suspect as to the long term health of these businesses, saying “it's a very dangerous bubble. Abbot Kinney’s not going anywhere, of course, but the genuinely cool places that made it great in the first place, who knows if anything like that can ever happen again.”
Personally, I could give a bespoke shit about the long term health of this pack of cynical culture-napping vultures. If they start losing money, they shut the stores down, take a minor loss, open up in the next hipster enclave and continue on their merry way exploiting child labor in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, there is only one Roosterfish. And it’s going to be gone soon. Like breathable air in Porter Ranch and black people at Oscar parties.
Still, if they fuck the neighborhood up to the point where they have to pull up stakes it would be preferable to the way it is now. I actually look forward to the day I can walk down Abbot Kinney again secure in the knowledge that at any moment, a crackhead might come along and whack me upside the head with a tire iron. It’d be a lot less painful than, say, the average brunch tab at Gjelina.
Until that day comes, however, rumor has it it’s pilot fish mating season over in West Adams. Get in while the gettin’s good.
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Dan Dunn’s latest book, American Wino: A Tale of Reds, Whites and One Man’s Blues, will be released on April 5th. Follow Dan on Twitter and Instagram.