Influential Abbot Kinney listening room plans a more egalitarian relaunch on Windward Avenue — a game-changer for live music west of the 405

By Joe Piasecki

Weezer played a surprise gig at Winston House in 2017
Photo by Kyle Jetter

The sudden closure and sale of popular boardwalk-adjacent bar Surfside Venice (see News, page 8) opens the door for a new venture hoping to amplify Venice’s reputation as a citywide destination for live music.

Abbot Kinney Boulevard loft turned listening room Winston House will be moving into the Windward Avenue space to relaunch as “a diner, bar, community center and live music venue” early next year.

Winston House has hosted Thursday-night concerts by emerging artists as well as some of the biggest names in the current generation of music, including Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Janelle Monáe, Dua Lipa, Weezer, The Shins, Hozier and notably Billie Eilish on the cusp of her superstardom.

Founder Corey McGuire, who began hosting concerts to help struggling musician friends, says he quietly gave up the lease on his storied Abbot Kinney pad two weeks ago with the hope of reaching larger audiences and supporting a greater number of artists through a more publicly accessible and fiscally sustainable venture.

“There were just too many people who couldn’t fit inside the house … and I was bumping into a lot of my limitations,” says McGuire. “It’s exciting to be able to bring more music to more people on the Westside.”

Expect a remodel of the former Surfside space to shift its emphasis from a restaurant-and-bar with a performance area to a performance area with an accompanying restaurant-and-bar.

The new iteration of Winston House is a partnership with Jake Mathews, who oversaw the renovation and relaunch of popular boardwalk hangout The Waterfront. Both he and McGuire emphasize that Winston House will not take on a nightclub atmosphere but remain a safe space for all comers, especially women.

“Winston House is all about celebrating the deep and rich musical culture of Venice that’s existed for so long but has been in a bit of a hibernation period. We want to bring it back,” says Mathews. “We want it to have uniquely Venice DNA and to be the best venue for live music for the neighborhood … a dynamic cultural hub with programming of interest and relevant to the neighborhood.”