When David Cooley decided to open The Abbey in 1991, the bar scene in West Hollywood looked much different than it does now. Cooley, an Ohioan by way of Las Vegas, moved to the city in 1981, at the start of the AIDS crisis. "When I was coming to bars on Santa Monica Boulevard, it was not as open," he says. "There were no front patios where you could have a cigarette. It was all behind closed doors and through back alleys."
How magical would it be to instantly trade the sidewalks and steel of an urban downtown for a woodland utopia? Clifton's spanned 16,000-square-feet of faux redwoods, frolicking forest creatures, scenic murals, a brook babbling with limeade and a 20-foot waterfall cascading over artificial rocks. To say that Clifton’s was unique is like saying LeBron James is a pretty decent basketball player. Imagine a larger-than-life diorama designed by Walt Disney on a Pine Sol-fueled bender. Simply put, it was unlike any other restaurant in Los Angeles.