Mother Lode – the Oldest Gay Bar in West Hollywood, Gets a Facelift

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Motherlode West Hollywood - Photo by Paulo Murillo

Is the beloved West Hollywood gay bar Mother Lode, closing? It was a question that rippled through the WeHo gayborhood when residents woke up to find the historical gay bar all boarded up last month.

When plywood goes up, it’s rarely a good sign for businesses that line up along Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of West Hollywood’s Boystown. The sidewalk shed covering Mother Lode’s infamous front facade blended with the plywood next door where heavy construction is currently underway for the massive development of the new Bottega Louie that is slated to open early next year. People could not help but wonder if Mother Lode would meet the same fate as the bar’s previous neighbors, The Unicorn Alley Book Store, and the old home of Chi Chi LaRue’s sex shop—both of which had their date with a wrecking ball to make way for Bottega Louie.

Motherlode West Hollywood – Photo by Paulo Murillo

We are happy to report that Mother Lode continues to be resilient in these changing times. The bar is open for business during a reconstruction of sorts. Yep, the oldest gay bar in West Hollywood is getting a mini facelift to keep up with all the fancy new developments that are sprouting all over Boystown. The bar’s owner Robert Yacoubian, who prefers to be called Bob, says the bar is here to stay. He says the changes are minor, and the bar will continue to be a staple of West Hollywood’s gay history.

“We’re simply adding a patio in the front,” Bob tells WEHO TIMES, “It’s going to go five feet out. It will be surrounded. There will be bush trees on both sides. There will be a big awning that will come out over it with heaters and lights. The front will be open, so people will be able to step out and walk around. The doorway is coming out. It’s going to be nice. The feedback we are getting is all good.”

Mother Lode West Hollywood – Photo by Paulo Murillo
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According to Bob, the construction should be done by the middle of December. “We’ve been working on this for like three years—trying to get the permits,” he said. “We were going to start and then we came up with a better idea. We took a little pause to update our city plans, so now we are almost there.”

Bob says that he received a lot of concerned calls from his regulars, who wanted to know if the bar was closing. “Some people thought we were part of the Bottega Louie construction,” he said. “Thankfully, Bottega Louie put up their red vinyl banner with their name on it, so now it looks like a separate construction.”

Photo credit: Marco Colantonio

It’s not the first time people questioned if Mother Lode was going under. People wondered if the bar would survive after Lisa Vandurpump opened P.U.M.P. Restaurant west of the bar in May of 2014.

People questioned the bar’s lifespan again when reports came out that David Cooley was building the now defunct Cooley’s Gastro Pub on the east side of the bar later that same year. Yet Mother Lode continues to withstand the test of time, even as it finds itself wedged between Bottega Louie and P.U.M.P.

Mother Lode dates back to 1979. Bob started working at the bar as a DJ during the 80s. He teamed up with then bartender Jerry McArthy, to purchase the bar from the previous owners in 1994. McCarthy sold his portion to Bob who became the sole owner in 2004. Although Bob owns Mother Lode, he says he does not own the building it sits in. However, he was able to work out a deal with the property owner to keep the bar open and intact.

Mother Lode 1982 – photo by The New Mr. Burlesk

The bar continues to attract its regular loyal customers. The pool table still stands, there is a live DJ and videos montages glow in a comfortable, friendly neighborhood setting, where longtime bartenders are likely to know your name.

Popular nights include Karaoke Thursdays, the infamous Beer Bust Sundays, and things get real raunchy with Invade the Hole Tuesdays presented by DirtyBurty with DJ Ben in the mix. Mother Lode has been invading the hole for many years. The event celebrates eight years this week.

“We’ve been here a long time and we hope to stay and preserve some tradition in the city and keep some of the history,” Bod added. “We want to keep something going that’s been here forever. We are like the Stonewall of West Hollywood. I invite anybody who wants to come to join us. We are open for business.”

To learn more, visit their Facebook page Mother Lode West Hollywood