How many bars and booze-selling restaurants can one block in OB hold?

by on September 22, 2009 · 45 comments

in Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach

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OCEAN BEACH, CA.   We were shocked the other day when we saw an alcohol sales notice on the window of the former OB Youth Community Services building on the last block of Newport Ave, at 5041 Newport.

The applicant is Mike Abas Tajran, and it’s for OB Micro Brewery. Looks like another restaurant bar for Ocean Beach, and another addition to a block that is saturated with booze selling establishments.

Perhaps some in OB will be over joyed – looking at the many, many comments to a very recent post about “Bars and Clubs in OB.” – Another bar – another place to hang out and drink! You can’t drink at the beach, so drink before the beach, after the beach, during ….

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The rumor is that Newport Pizza bought the two-story pink stucco excuse of a building.  The building used to house the Inbetween – OB’s infamous youth drop-in center that flourished in the Seventies. Then it was “paved” over, and became the offices of OB Youth Community Services.  It’s look appeared to reject the old, welcoming signs of the Inbetween, and morphed into a sterile, forbidding look.  “No Loitering” signs were visibly pasted on its window.  Very fortress like.

With this addition, it appears that the 5000 block of Newport will house a dozen businesses that sell alcohol, including the market at the corner.  Without doing an actual count, this could mean one-third of the businesses on that one block sell the impairing liquidy stuff.

We have to ask: how many alcohol-selling businesses can our community handle on this last block of our mainstreet?

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

bodysurferbob September 22, 2009 at 10:26 am

why don’t we just arrange it so EVERY business on that block sells licker. why mess around.


lane tobias September 22, 2009 at 10:35 am

if these are the only businesses that are applying for business permits, then what can we do? Maybe thats the only proven business model in contemporary OB….


jon September 22, 2009 at 10:55 am

Obviously, myself and some of the other readers and commentors here are accustomed to, and even seem to enjoy the many bars that OB hosts. I would venture to say that we are a far cry from the numerous douche-filled bars and clubs along Garnet, and it’s much better than having an empty storefront or, in the case of this building, an empty fortress littered with graffiti and no loitering signs. Hopefully the bars and restaurants will continue to do well and bring in other various businesses to the area that will be able to make money off all the drunk shoppers. Trust me….give my girl a couple margaritas and she becomes an economic superhero armed with credit cards and penchant for shoes and handbags.


Dave Gilbert September 22, 2009 at 11:18 am

It’s probably a good thing that drinking and driving is illegal, otherwise parking might become an issue. ;)


JPinSD September 22, 2009 at 11:19 am

Good. At least some businesses are surviving. Maybe the author wants another crap hole antique store in there…that eventually will go out of business.


Frank Gormlie September 22, 2009 at 3:01 pm

JPinSD – definitely not more antique malls/ stores. Part of the point is the very one people are making – the only surviving businesses are bars and restaurants that have bars. It says something about our society and (hic) way of life.


Shawn Conrad September 22, 2009 at 11:30 am


Selling “licker” is illegal. I say the more the merrier. Rumor has it that he wants to start competing with Hodad’s on burger sales. Please don’t quote me on that.


jettyboy September 22, 2009 at 11:41 am

I just hope with the limited space on Newport we don’t turn into PB 2. Not being a drinker I don’t know how many bars are to many bars, but it might turn out to be another restaurant that serves beer and wine, rather than a bar that serves food as an after thought. I think with the economy in the tank, places that let folks get shit-faced will always do more business than some place trying to obtain money that’s not so available for stuff nobody needs. I’d rather see a bar than an empty building.


Larry OB September 22, 2009 at 12:47 pm

We also have a lot of surf shops and coffee joints. We need more variety. How about a vegetarian bar? Organic beer and watermelon sold by the slice?


Sunshine September 27, 2009 at 10:44 am

I’ve got an old triple beam scale that I no longer use…. the watermelon could be sold by the ounce.


doug porter September 22, 2009 at 1:46 pm

i remember when the old OB town council opposed every liquor license applicant in our community as a means of cleaning the town up. we need to be very careful that we don’t become what we started out opposing.
when vegetarians start supporting restaurants–and they don’t–more vegetarian restaurants will open up.


Abby September 22, 2009 at 9:31 pm

What are you talking about, vegetarians don’t eat out? I live in a house full of vegetarians, and we eat out at OB restaurants at least once or twice a week, more when it’s hot and no one wants to cook.

Ob is great when it comes to restaurants that cater to vegetarians, it’s one of the reasons we stay here.


Mary E. Mann September 23, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I concur with Abby. At nearly every restaurant in OB there are multiple veggie options, as well as People’s deli having only veggie options. I miss Roots, though, and wish that the close of RPS hadn’t meant a shut-down of Roots as well.


Frank Gormlie September 23, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Ahhh, Mary – do I smell another post “restaurants in OB – veggie and …”?


Shawn Conrad September 22, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Alcohol, cigarettes, and sex.

Build your business around one of these three things and you will usually win (unless you lose, but you still have enough fun to think you won).

How about a vegan restaurant that serves organic wines and beer with free health care and provides graffiti remover as a free gift?

I think we need a brothel.


PSD September 22, 2009 at 9:51 pm

I dare you to apply for a permit to open an opium den, a la Frisco about this time last century…

Failing that, a ‘stoner bar’ where holders of 215 cards could chill like drunkards minus the booze would be cool…I hear they’ve got ’em in LA, but some in the pot movement are too squeamish to push for full decrim and are digging the bogus ‘medical’ status they currently hold…


jim grant September 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Really now. Where is his parking ???


Rob September 22, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Supply and demand.


Danny Morales September 22, 2009 at 6:30 pm

I’m with Shawn+Iwanna medmj dispensary/hooka bar/brothel/oxegen & booze bar!


Dave Gilbert September 22, 2009 at 10:53 pm

expialidosous ;)


mr fresh September 22, 2009 at 10:07 pm

vegetarian stoner bar with valet parking?


clubstyle_dj September 22, 2009 at 10:12 pm

You all know why the businesses near the beach are closing and failing… think about it…
This is the fall-out from the beach alcohol ban “sucker punch” we were given. This neighborhood was thriving until councilman Killjoy Faulkner spearheaded it’s assassination. Empty storefronts and struggling shops, new booze selling businesses and no stories about neighborhood demise in the fishwrap. Plenty of stories about the float-a-palooza and how to stop it’s growth, but they will never report what many said would happen… “Beach neighborhoods will die when you ban alcohol at the beach”. This is just the beginning. Cut off your nose to spite your face… causes breathing issues.


doug porter September 22, 2009 at 11:07 pm

you must know that we here at the obrag opposed the booze ban, but show me any evidence that the ban has INCREASED the rate at which businesses fail in OB.
i don’t think you can.
we are in a serious recession and small businesses at the beach (and elsewhere) do come and go pretty frequently.
again, the booze ban is a stoopid thing imposed mostly by people who live east of interstate 5. but it hasn’t been the end of the world, either.


PSD September 26, 2009 at 12:27 am

Agree that the booze ban has done lots of harm, and that it flat-out blows. Agree Faulconer (sp?) pulled the d-bag move on this one, so bad it’s hard to forgive him.

Disagree on the assertion it’s caused the downturn in Newport/downtown OB area business. From what I understand, the businesses that served local civic purposes for the most part died long before my introduction OB as a young kid in the late eighties…with the exception of my eye doctor, the hardware store, Mallory’s furniture and a couple of the restaurants virtually everything is different. Different like the shops directed at locals are virtually gone. The local dive bars have been gussied up to mock touristy PB dive bars. What storefronts aren’t targeted at tourists are either antique malls or plastered with ‘For Rent’ posters.


Shawn Conrad September 23, 2009 at 8:37 am

Danny Morales for President.

My biggest complaint is that Mike Tajran has enough $$ to open as many businesses on Newport as he likes.

I am pretty envious of that. It is going to take me a very long time to roll like that, but I’ll get there.


Mary E. Mann September 23, 2009 at 1:27 pm

What sort of other business would you rather see on Newport? Just curious, all jokes about brothels/opium dens, etc aside.


jon September 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I think you were directing your question toward Shawn, but I wanted to take a stab at answering too!

A bookstore
A bowling alley (realizing alcohol will, and should be served here)
A movie theatre and/or performance theatre
An indian food restaurant (with or without booze)
Gift shops with more than just seashells and OB t-shirts
A pool hall (yes, alcohol will most likely be served at one of these too)

The sad thing is, OB has had all of these things, yet rents keep going up, or they are run by crooks or the community just hasn’t embraced them enough so they couldn’t make it. So instead, we get antique malls and sports bars?


Frank Gormlie September 23, 2009 at 3:54 pm

How about a book store? Do you realize that this community of high intellectuals does NOT have a book store?!!


doug porter September 23, 2009 at 4:39 pm

it’s a bad time to open a bookstore. blame amazon, blame walmart, blame bush for rewarding illiteracy… but the economics of bookselling are not good right now.


Danny Morales September 23, 2009 at 7:51 pm

M.E. Mann,- Unfortunutly Shawn is right! An exercise in curiously killing the cat if we try to project our wishes upon where the golden rule applies. Bye the buey ju$t who the -F- is Mike Tajran and why is the blue sky? Nice sunset though. Enjoy the sandwiches…Juan Bizzaro


Pat September 23, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Business is tough these days for any small business ,whether your at the beach or not.
I’ve been in business for 33 yrs. in Ocean Beach.
I’ve never seen it so tough, and my business considered recession proof.
It’s not just the recession, costs on every have gone through the roof, materials, shipping ,utilities, insurance, you need to pay higher wages when cost of living increases as it does in San Diego, and yes rents. Although my rent has increased signifcantly in the last five years, I feel lucky because it is still resonable and if it wasn’t for having a good land lord we probably would be history by now.
One of the reasons we’ve been able to stay in business so long in OB is because we had sweet deals on rent. When we began business here you could rent large spaces cheap. It was more condusive to small business start ups . Most those deals are gone now. It will be interesting to see how Newport Ave. evolves.
We are just in the survival mode right now. I’m pissed that no stimulas monies has made it down to help small business. We can’t even get a loan, where’s the freakin SBA when you need them?
If things don’t change soon I’m afraid there’s going to be more doom and gloom for small business.


Gary Ghirardi September 24, 2009 at 5:42 am

A suggested article for OB’ers, both merchants and residents from a very important project about living local….

Neighborhood Stores: An Overlooked Strategy for Fighting Global Warming

What I find most striking about my mother-in-law’s memories of the neighborhood where I live, and where she spent her childhood in the 1940s, is how many businesses our little residential section of town once boasted. Back then, there was a grocery store, hardware store, barber shop, two drugstores, a tailor, and several corner stores.

Those businesses all disappeared in the following decades, as the streetcar lines were dismantled, families acquired cars, and shopping migrated out to supermarkets and, later, malls and big-box stores. At the low point, my neighborhood hosted little more than a lone convenience store, great for snacks and beer, but not much else.

Recently that began to change: first a restaurant opened and then a tea shop. And then, in what many of my neighbors greeted as nothing short of a gift from heaven, a small fresh food market opened. Stop by at 6 in the evening and you’ll find a row of bicycles out front and the store’s narrow aisles packed with people pondering their dinner options.


doug porter September 24, 2009 at 9:09 am

thanks for the article, gary. i reposted the link to it on the obragblog facebook page.


Dickie September 26, 2009 at 1:51 pm

my growing up neighborhood in New York started out like this . . . a store for every need on the street level of 5 to 15 story apartment buildings. There was nothing you might need that you could not walk to buy (including fresh fruit and veggies in bins tumbling out on to the sidewalk). There were over 10 movie theaters in 25 blocks that showed everything from art films to kids’ shows . . . none are left . . . That neighborhood (Upper West Side of Manhattan) has been gentrified out of its soul in the last 30 years. Now a lot of overpriced dinner restaurants, boutiques, and trendy bars, and rental apt buildings converted into condos (or co-ops as they like to call them in NYC) interspersed with dollar stores for the remaining poor . . . I watched Newport Street become an antique mall in a reminiscent way.
  I really liked this web site Gary, thank you . I had not heard of it. For a prophetic yet remarkably contemporary sounding critique of urban development in this vein, I highly recommend Jane Jacobs’ “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” written in the early 60s. It was definitely on my mind when I first saw OB in 1971: what a great urban locale . . .


Gary Ghirardi September 28, 2009 at 7:38 pm

I have been exploring the site more Dickie. I think this woman Stacy Mitchell is quite informed on the issues of building back local viability from the corporate stores cannibalizing themselves and killing community based businesses. I think somewhere in the mix are some untested formulas to get people to buy local and develop community at the same time. I remember an OB when there was more that vision. The response to the Bar postings on the surface seemed sad, like a defeat for the past, but maybe the other side is that it is giving some consideration again to the issue of building back something different for OB than the other beach cities. Time will tell.


lane tobias September 24, 2009 at 9:09 am

I agree that a bowling alley could be viable in OB….we attract enough people from other ‘hoods to our bars, what if a new-style bowling alley was put in right where RPS used to be? the bowling alley down in E. Village only has like 8 lanes, and people come from all over SD to bowl there. Plus, they charge like 5 bucks a game….outrageous for lanes that don’t even have the proper ratio of wax to wood…..

You can tell I’m an enthusiast, but seriously, I think a bowling alley fits the neighborhood quite well.


PSD September 26, 2009 at 12:50 am

I love it. However, I’ve looked at it. As discussed on another post, the likeliest spot suitable is the RPS building, where you could squeeze in maybe a dozen lanes with a bar/restaurant along oneside (don’t tell me you can pull off a bowling alley without beer and fried food). Because of the current downturn that building could probably be raped into a long-term lease around $8000 a month.

$500,000ish to expand the kitchen potential, pay booze licensing permits, build the lanes, otherwise remodel the building to suit the purpose. Roughly $3700 a month on the loan payments if this cash doesn’t come like monkeys flying out of your butt.

Around 15 employees including pin monkeys, front desk peeps, wait staff, kitchen staff, cleaning staff, bouncer staff. At a not-great but liveable average wage of $42K or $3500/mo., that’s $52,500.

Gas, electric, water, and cable for the TVs ain’t gonna be free – figure another $5000 a month.

Okay, so I need $80,000 a month, or $2800ish a day (before considering the cost of the food and booze I sell) to break even. Methinks that makes the price for an entreprenuer to have to charge almost as lame, if not more so, than East Village Bowl downtown. And so I don’t seek out venture capital funds and instead content myself with driving to Kearny Mesa or Parkway in El Cajon…


BillRayDrums September 24, 2009 at 10:14 am

So….we can have limitless liquor houses that help to contribute to drunken accidents, fights, people getting stomped into comas, property being destroyed, etc….

….but open ONE medical marijuana collective on the prominent street and it’s like a whorehouse/opium den/crystal meth palace/child porn operation has just moved to town.



Frank Gormlie September 24, 2009 at 10:16 am

Billray – that’s kinda my feeling too. Seemed there was a big outcry when it was announced about the medicinal MJ dispensaries to open on Newport. What’s that all about?


aGGona September 25, 2009 at 12:17 pm

The bookstore just went out of business a few years back on Cable/Newport.
I sat at the bus stop daily, watching that poor business. As much as I like books,
I don’t buy books, often. I reserve them from the library, borrow, trade. etc.

That pink building has been desolate for a llooonngg time,
I am glad to see ANYthing in there.

Maybe I take that back, I do think that the matching of the bars on Newport, is a drag.
They all seem like they are owned by the SAME GUY!

If I were a business owner, I stick a bar there too! Then roll around in my mounds
of glorious money. What other business make a profit? Ya, I don’t know…..
I wonder how many places are staying a float.


Mike James September 25, 2009 at 12:54 pm

I’m betting this will be only be a brewery (wholesale only), not a restaurant bar. According to the license information online, the license type is for “Small Beer Manufacturer.” I really don’t see the Alcoholic Beverage Control allowing another bar on Newport Ave. If this is the case it really won’t effect the neighborhood except maybe for the smell of roasted barley and aromatic hops.


Pat September 25, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Thanks for the ideas and the link.
Ocean Beach was going through a similar transistion when I came here in 1976.
It was still somewhat of Main St America. On Newport ave we had 2 hardware stores, two drug stores , a department store , a five and dime , A theatre , just about anything you would need right here in town. I’m glad I had a chance to live here then to see what it was.
At that time Main Streets where changing all over the US.


lane tobias September 26, 2009 at 9:10 pm

PSD – whos making the $42 k a year? If thats what id be pulling in as a manager or owner or bartender, id jump at the chance. Id say there are people all over OB that would work for HALF that or less……

maybe it would be too expensive…but wouldnt it be awesome?


Sunshine September 27, 2009 at 11:02 am

Hey, I’d work there two nights a week polishing the balls or tripping the light fantastic with a lazar light show black light night. Sounds fun!!! So, who’s got the capital to make this happen?


Danny Morales September 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Dear Ms. Sunshine, In the Wonderland of the O.B. City of Dreamers the Rag of Record reports that the accumulation of US capital appears to have gathered itself into a vortex of death and destruction. No bucks for education, health care, housing or anything else that promotes the general welfare (so dream on Cali dreamers, dream on)… & enjoy the downhill L@n): Rovr ride to YeO’beach condo with $tar:>b uck$ in hand ’cause the revolution will not be televised (in HD large screen anyways)… Until then children, it’ll be party and bullsh!t and party and bullsh!t…or so sayeth the Last Poets (30)


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