Rachel Thomas was born in London to Middle Eastern and American parents and raised in Melbourne, Australia. Over the years, Rachel has accumulated extensive experience in design and business. She began to work as a freelance set decorator in 2000. She quickly built on her experience and worked her way up to become a production designer for music videos and commercials. Rachel’s credentials include projects with artists Gwen Stefani, George Michael, and Brittany Spears, among many others
Coly Den Haan, a third generation restaurateur, has the business in her blood. She was raised in Santa Barbara, where her first after school job at the age of fourteen was as a busgirl at a busy State Street Cafe. After moving to Los Angeles, she quickly accumulated experience in a myriad of capacities at Fred Segal’s famous Mauro’s Café, Farfalla on La Brea, and Barney Greengrass on the roof of Barney’s New York in Beverly Hills. She became a certified Sommelier with AIS & NASA specializing in Italian wines in 2008 and a certified beer specialist, in 2009.
When Rachel and Coly met they developed an instant affinity due, in part, to their shared dream of opening a restaurant bar. Both agreed that Los Angeles was lacking an unpretentious, inclusive wine bar with an adventurous and expansive menu. Their creativity, chemistry and complimentary talents created a recipe for success.
The Must opened in December of 2008 to rave reviews and an enthusiastic welcome from the neighborhood. The subsequent evolution of The Must was closely related to the symbiotic relationship Rachel and Coly developed with their neighborhood patrons. Within a year of opening, The Must won various awards and received numerous press pieces in Bon Appetite magazine, the L.A. Times, the L.A. Weekly, Sunset Magazine, NBC, Urban Daddy and Thrillist, among many others. It was voted best neighborhood bar in 2009 by the readers of the Downtown News Press and was lauded as best happy hour in Los Angeles by Los Angeles Magazine in 2009. Opening a tremendously successful bar and restaurant in the untested downtown market put Rachel and Coly on the map as pioneers and created a loyal local following.
Rachel and Coly went on to open Perch, an 11,000 square foot, three-story bar and restaurant. The name, design, public relations, launch, menu, logo, concept, indeed, Perch’s entire identity was a product of the girls’ creativity, wit, and chemistry. In August of 2011, Perch opened to rave reviews, was an instant success, and quickly became a downtown institution. Drinking and dining in this opulent rooftop bar was such a sought after experience by Angelinos and visitors to the city, that long lines formed out the door on weekends. Like the Must, Perch received numerous write-ups and awards and required no operating capital whatsoever from day one.
In early 2012 Coly and Rachel decided to leave Perch in order to refocus their attentions on reopening The Must.