When Coutula opened in 2006, Abbot Kinney Blvd was a sleepy little artsy neighborhood street in Venice, full of independent shops, galleries and restaurants. The tagline for Venice at the time was "Venice where art meets crime.” Santa Monica Place was under reconstruction, so people had fewer places to shop in this area and everyone started discovering our little street. We had fun back in the day, before the food trucks came to First Friday, it was just a neighborhood block party once a month. And after a few years, food trucks and Facebook became a thing and one First Friday a raucous event wound up on the internet, and a street was born! Not long after that, GQ Magazine dubbed it "the coolest street in a America" and Abbot Kinney exploded onto the scene as a world renowned fashion and food destination.
But, a lot of people don’t know that Abbot Kinney was actually a man, who built Venice in 1906, and patterned it after the amusement thoroughfares of the great 19th and 20th century expositions. It featured foreign exhibits, amusements, and freak shows. Trolley service was available from Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Visitors were charmed by the canals, complete with gondolas and gondoliers brought in from Venice, Italy. There were ornate Venetian-style businesses and a full-sized amusement pier, much like what is now in Santa Monica. Though Venice has changed over the years, you can still see pieces of it’s history when you wander around. The Venice boardwalk lives on with exhibits, amusements and freak shows,(some intended and some not.) And in the canals where gondolas once toured, locals carry on the tradition, but now use SUPS.
In the 11 years that Coutula has been here, we’ve seen Venice and Abbot Kinney Blvd change a lot. We are always happy to see what’s next on this ever growing street, and thrilled to continue to be a part of the fun and festive vibe that Abbot Kinney started so long ago.