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Turf Club (Stay Classy) San Diego

Turf Club under new ownership/management?

by Reviewer Rob

There’s several established “cool” watering holes in San Diego, and one of them looks to be relocating soon.

[I just want to say up front that I took a cab home to Point Loma after Friday night, and it was well worth the $25 in cab fare as well as bus and trolly fare the next morning to retrieve my car. After several taquila drinks poured in the Casbah’s back bar by Bob Bennett, there’s just no way … ]

Gentrification Bites Back

The owners of the building housing San Diego’s famous hipster hangout/grill-your-own-steak-dinnerclub, The Turf Club has “wanted in on the money” being made by the owners of the piano bar, according to a source close to Reviewer Magazine. I found this out Friday night, August 30th, when stopping in to The Casbah for an uncharacteristic night of serious drinking.

So Turf Club proprietors Sam Chammas (Whistle Stop, Live Wire) and Tim Mays (Casbah, Starlight) are pulling up stakes (punny?) and relocating the concept to La Mesa at the end of the month. Looks like the cycle of gentrification that The Turf Club helped to promote in the neighborhood starting in the mid-to-late-90’s has caught up with the bar and the owners who have kept the decor staunchly retro decided to bring the rent current and tripled it when time came to renew the lease.

I called The Turf Club last night (after my hellacious hangover from Saturday morning finally subsided) and spoke with a girl who answered and identified herself as Brianna, and she said that the bar will still be there after November 1st, and that they’ll be “keeping the look and the food.” It seems the museum ambiance will remain. “Everything’s pretty much grandfatehred in,” she said…

The More Things Change

This makes sense since the charm of the place was the 1950’s style fire grill that customers would cluster around to cook their own meal. Pretty cool concept and it was a hit with the music-scenester clientele which began migrating over to The Turf Club from both The Casbah in Little Italy and The Live Wire in North Park immediately upon its purchase by Mays and Chammas. It didn’t matter that the bar was originally a dinner stop for horse-racing enthusiasts between Del Mar and Aqua Caliente back in the 1950’s and it’s those “photo finish” snapshots that adorn the walls as well as the vintage piano bar alcove that distinguish the joint from any other scene-crowd club in this town. If the owners of The Casbah and The Live Wire were teaming up to do the place, then it must be cool. And so it was.

It’ll be interesting to see what they do in La Mesa, if that’s really where they’ll go with it next… a prominent San Diego blog had at least one post that hinted that maybe National City could be a destination for the next magic touch that made the Starlight (a former failed lesbian bar) and The Whistle Stop (what was a derelict, boarded-up watering hole in a rundown part of South Park) the happ’nin places they are.

We shall see…

RR

Photos of Turf Club barfront and the vintage ad shot by Reviewer Rob from where they were reprinted in the pages of an old copy of Revolt In Style magazine from the early-to-mid 1990’s, lent to Rob by Revolt founder Trevor Watson, who printed a piece about the fading history of San Diego’s golden era of post-war watering holes.

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