Rich Schmutzler and Nick Leonard, co-owners of GYM Sportsbar, had a lot in common: they were both varsity athletes in college, loved to watch sports, and felt left out as sports fans in the gay community. To fix that, they founded GYM Sportsbar in New York City—a dedicated sports bar that played video and audio simultaneously. The concept caught on so quickly that they decided to open a second hub in L.A. “When we first started, I got a lot of Scooby Doo faces, like, ‘huh?’” Schmutzler told the Los Angeles Times in a 2009 article about the business. But soon, those questioning looks turned into smiles as mostly male crowds began flooding to the West Hollywood GYM. Today, they host weekday happy hours along with gatherings for recreational sports teams, alumni associations, and other local groups.
The legend behind Rock and Reilly's Irish Pub is a tale taller than Paul Bunyan. Reilly, it's said, was born in Ireland during a bar fight, and took a man's life on that first day. His father lost him during a poker game at the age of two, and Reilly won himself back within six months. Then, at the age of three, he set out to cure America of what he saw as a disease: prohibition. The remedy, of course, was whiskey.?
The stories may be out there, but the pub itself couldn't be more tangible. Irish-inspired pub food, such as corned-beef sliders or a cheese steak made with Irish cheddar, help soak up the booze, while Reilly's Hooch, seven draft beers, and more than 50 whiskeys keep spirits raised.
Trunks Bar has been serving LA’s gay community for 25 years, and it might just feel like it’s the ‘80s as live DJs pump out oldies and pop hits from the halcyon days of dance music. This club and sports bar mixes drinks such as the Trunks Cooler, a tropical blend of Svedka vodka, Malibu, and juice, to get the crowd ready for the nightly DJ sets. On Mondays and Tuesdays, music from the ‘70s and ‘80s echoes throughout the bar. On Thursdays, DJ Draven takes requests and guests can “Spin the Wheel” to win hot shot specials. And weekends belong to DJ Bobby Spins and DJ Carlos, who understand that a fun night entails great tunes from the days before MacBooks learned to write music criticism.
Although it now has more than 430 locations in 28 countries, Hooters wasn’t always welcomed by the public. In fact, when it opened in October 1983 in Clearwater, Florida, the founders of the restaurant were “quickly detained for impersonating restaurateurs,” according to the company's website. But the restaurant was able to prove it was more than just a pretty face—that it was serious about serving tasty American food and frosty brews—and its popularity exploded in the decades to follow.
Amid its beach-themed vibe and flat-screen TVs, Hooters still fuels appetites with original chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and fresh salads. Of course, nobody carries those casual eats and icy pitchers better than the Hooters girls. To complement their friendly smiles, their uniforms harken back to the ones the original waitresses wore in 1983: orange hot shorts and white tank tops with the emblematic owl on the front—though that owl has lost its Lionel Richie perm.
At Jillian's, a colorful, 10-lane alley, a nightclub ambiance pairs with modern d?cor and ample entertainment to host parties. A restaurant sates between-set hunger pains with a menu of American eats such as hot wings, burgers, and pizzas. On Fridays and Saturdays, Jillian's hosts club nights, during which a sound system pumps music. Four billiard tables draw pool sharks, and guests can also enjoy an arcade of 84 electronic games between songs or bowling frames. For birthday parties, a private suite hosts up to 50 people who can play Wii games on a giant projector screen. The venue itself can accommodate anywhere from ten to 1,200 guests and also provides catering.
The poultry patrons at Big Wangs give smashmouth sports fans their fill of multiple HD screens, affordable drinks, and gigantic, tasty wings at a lively East Coast–style bar atmosphere. Browse the menu to find an array of tangy sauces, from garlic buffalo to chipotle barbecue, to deck out the plump drumettes ($6.49–$18.75). Pair a frothy 34-ounce brew, such as Sierra Nevada ($9.50), with the tasty tater tots ($3.50) to lovingly douse the championship coach within your stomach. Diners can also dig their digits into savory handhelds such as the blackened ahi sandwich ($12.49) or Big Wangs burger ($9.99).