Abbey Owner David Cooley Buys the Establishment Back from Sam Nazarian's SBE

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David Cooley

SBE purchased a majority stake in the West Hollywood hot spot nearly a decade ago.

Chances are, whatever gifts David Cooley received from friends or family on his 55th birthday, none could quite compare to the one he gave himself: West Hollywood's well-known nightlife guru purchased back his crown jewel, The Abbey, from hospitality and entertainment company SBE.

Cooley announced the purchase at his iconic haunt — the Abbey Food and Bar, located at 692 N. Robertson Blvd. — during his speakeasy-themed birthday party on Aug. 11, which drew Lance Bass, among others. A rep for SBE followed up with an official announcement on Wednesday morning.

The deal comes ahead of The Abbey's own upcoming birthday party — the restaurant/bar will celebrate 25 years in 2016 — and the business seems to be as popular as ever. Caitlyn Jenner recently stopped by (adding to its long list of celebrity patrons like Christina Aguilera, Rita Ora, Janet Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor), and a production company is prepping an Abbey-set reality TV show that will likely feature Cooley and his famously attractive staff of bartenders, servers and go-go dancers.

"SBE has had an amazing decade partnering with David and elevating the Abbey to its most impactful and successful years," said SBE chairman and CEO Sam Nazarian. "As we narrow our focus to core hotel, restaurant and nightlife brands and integrating SBE restaurants and bars within our hotels, we feel that it makes sense to hand the reins of The Abbey back to its passionate founder and leader so that he can lead the Abbey's next exciting chapter."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cooley originally sold a majority stake in his establishment close to a decade ago, but stayed on as president. According to a rep for SBE, the company paid close to $10 million back then for a 75 percent stake. At the time, Nazarian disclosed plans to open additional Abbey outposts in popular gay destinations like Miami, however those plans never panned out.

In a statement, Cooley praised Nazarian before looking ahead to the Abbey's next chapter as well as the opening of his next outpost, Cooley's, a gastropub located around the corner on Santa Monica Boulevard. "I am grateful for Sam's support and friendship these last nine years, which has helped us continue to grow the iconic Abbey brand and has set the stage for an exciting future," said Cooley, who can be seen in Roland Emmerich's upcoming film Stonewall.

SBE continues to push forward with its robust real estate dealings in the hotel space with 13 hotel properties in development including the SLS Hotel & Residences Brickell, SLS LUX Hotel & Residences Brickell, SLS Seattle, SLS LUX Hotel & Residences Philadelphia, Hyde Hotel & Residences Hollywood, Florida, and Hyde Hotel & Residences Midtown Miami. Nazarian recently announced the spinoff of SBE's real estate development arm into a new operation called Dakota Development.

Nazarian weathered a bit of bad press at the close of 2014 when he announced that he would be stepping away from the management of his Las Vegas property after admitting to cocaine use and business dealings with a convicted felon. 

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