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Ulloa is also looking forward to what will be going on at the Radio Room, music-wise.

“They have a brand-new, nice sound system,” he says. “It seems like it’s going to be a little bit more suited for live music. It looks nice. It’s exciting, actually.”

In addition to those staunchly pro- or anti-renovation, there are some who, while sad to see their old favorites go, are optimistic about what will arrive in their place.

Edgar Nuñez, who was a regular at the Zombie Lounge, says he will not have a problem visiting the new Radio Room.

“I [didn’t] have any qualms about it becoming the Radio Room or changing owners or anything like that,” he says, from his high stool at South Park’s Whistle Stop bar. “My general perspective on bars is they change ownership, it happens, business is business. I suppose I do feel a twinge of sadness that one of the places where I met so many of my close friends is gone, but who’s to say that you can’t have a good time at the Radio Room?”

Nuñez, who works as a Web developer by day and a deejay by night, has spun at many of the closed bars as DJ Edgartronic.

“One of my first deejay gigs was at Scolari’s,” he says. “It had its good times and its bad. I guess it just wasn’t my scene. I understand why people are sad to see it go. I mean, super-cheap alcohol, who can say no to that? But, like I said before, I’m a believer in letting things happen and giving the new place a shot and seeing if you like it.”

The changes are happening, like it or not.

“Here’s my theory,” says Heaney, giving Club Kadan’s bar-top a quick rubdown with a rag. “When the economy is good, people are buying big clubs and making big bucks. But the economy fluctuates, and since I’m here for the long term, I like small bars with low overhead, and I think everybody else is thinking the same way, getting small bars so that they can last through tough times.”

Heaney bought the Zombie Lounge from previous owner Joe Hicks in June, doing a light, 19-day renovation before reopening it as the Radio Room. His motivation to buy, he says, had a lot to do with the volume of bands that wished to play at Kadan.

“I had these punk-rock bands and these metal bands and these jazz bands playing,” he says, “and I was thinking, ‘I don’t have a stage, I don’t have an adequate sound system.’ So that’s why I started looking out for a live venue.”

The Radio Room fit his needs. Already an existing rock club, it had a core customer base and staff. Heaney, who has a background as a sound engineer, outfitted the bar with a new sound system in anticipation of a full musical roster. Two friends of his, Pete and Dan Smith, a pair of contractor brothers Heaney plays ice hockey with, made a few structural changes, renovating the ladies’ room and painting “everything that wasn’t moving” a fresh coat of black. With the new name and paint job comes a new set of drinks, including a Tanqueray pom blush (Tanqueray Rangpur lime gin with a splash of pomegranate juice and tonic water) for $4, and vanilla Absolut with Coke or Diet Coke for $3. Well drinks are $3.50.

In addition to Heaney, there are four other owners of the Radio Room, all his bartenders from Kadan. Before buying the club, Heaney set up a venture-capital account to which his employees contributed. Three years later, as the account reached $40,000, Heaney began looking for a spot to purchase. He bought the bar for $125,000.

“I decided to keep the staff,” says Heaney. “And [Hicks] told me of the nervousness of the staff, so I went down there and spoke to [them] and kept them all because, one, they have a good reputation, and two, because [Hicks] told me they were good people.”

But not all the purchased bars have stayed the same — or even similar.

The transformation of Scolari’s Office into the fully renovated “Office” is perhaps the most remarkable of the recent remodels. The site underwent a total overhaul, and it is no longer the dive it once was.

“Evolution” is the word on owner Ted Lithopoulos’s lips when talking about the facelift the bar has received.

“You start with something, and you end up with something else,” Lithopoulos says. We’re sitting at a table at Bar Dynamite, which he also owns, while he goes over some paperwork. “That’s how I expected it to go.”

Lithopoulos, who, though he has been a San Diegan since his teen years, is from Greece, bought the bar from George Scolari. Scolari owned it from the mid-’80s until 2008 and was in his 80s when he sold it in February.

Just before escrow closed in March, renovations began, which entailed a total gutting of the original interior, a tear-down of the exterior, and a full rebuilding of both.

“It needed it. Really [badly],” says Lithopoulos. “I don’t like to go to a new place and not put my own signature on it. To me it’s a waste of time. There was nothing there to keep, really; there was nothing. A lot of people went through there; it was a popular place. It [had] a lot of wear and tear. It was time. It was overdue, actually.”

The plans for the remodel were first developed by Bells & Whistles, a University Heights design company. Then Lithopoulos’s business partner and manager, Joe Balestrieri, took the reins and finished it off, their combined efforts producing the Office’s current feel.

“Definitely, we wanted a city kind of look to it,” says Lithopoulos. “Just basically a sexy, comfortable place.”

The purchase price and the remodel, Lithopoulos says, cost him just over a million dollars.

Any trace, save for the truncated name, of the old Scolari’s Office is gone. The new Office is sleek and black, everything brand new. The tiniest scent of fresh paint floats on the cool air, mixing with the scent of patrons’ perfume. Black leather booths sit tucked against the left wall, each with its own candle-topped round table. A latticed divider separates the booths from the bar for about 15 feet. Beyond that is the dance floor, complete with disco ball and a new deejay area, which glows with blue LEDs. The threadbare carpet, black-padded bar top, and low ceilings are things of the past.

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Comments

basilisk Feb. 4, 2009 @ 11:21 p.m.

A couple of comments:

  1. The Office, $7 for a Jack Daniels and water is not a good price. The place does look good Though.

  2. Bluefoot, Lousy acoustics and too many TVs. But lots of women go there.

  3. U-31, they have the same clientele as Buster Daly's did. Plus the metal ceiling does not sound very good.

  4. Pink Elephant, my favorite. You can hold a conversation there.

I am still exploring.

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bluenwhitegokart Feb. 5, 2009 @ 3:41 a.m.

I never went to the Office because the women were there...I went to drink and shoot the s***.

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rbtpdr Feb. 5, 2009 @ 5:57 p.m.

The Soda Bar, or the old Chaser's has been opened up for months now. You can just drive right by and see it! A+ reporting!

As far as "The Office" goes, I've checked it out. The place makes me sick. It's nothing like Scolari's Office. Anyone in their right mind should have known that those changes were not going to fly with the PBR crowd. If Lithopoulos wanted to keep the regulars he should at least have bands play all the time instead of pointless DJs. And it's once your in there for a minute, the whole thing is just kind of boring and it feels incredibly forced. It's not as nice as some downtown place, you can't justify paying $5 for a well whiskey and coke when there's no touring bands playing, it's too dark, the clientele sucks, the bartenders suck, the suit wearing doorman sucks.

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JamieRoxx Feb. 5, 2009 @ 10:55 p.m.

Personally as someone who lives across the street from the Office, I have to say the remodel is a great improvement. The bottom line is "the PBR" crowd did not spend any money. I know that everyone assumes that these bars were open and in business just so that people could hang out, and bands that no one had ever heard of could play. No people they were there to make money.

And as far as everyone freaking out...well open your own bar. Of course that would take a little more than sitting around bitching about your lost clubhouse.

Give me a break. NorthPark is looking good...finally.

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rbtpdr Feb. 6, 2009 @ 2:23 a.m.

How's living in an ugly condo complex working out for your JamieRoxx?

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rbtpdr Feb. 6, 2009 @ 2:24 a.m.

JamieRoxx is pissed John Tesh never played at Scolari's

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rbtpdr Feb. 6, 2009 @ 2:41 a.m.

And since Yelp.com is the be all end all of how much a place matters:

Scolari's has 3 1/2 stars http://www.yelp.com/biz/scolaris-office-san-diego

The Office has 3 stars http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-office-bar-san-diego

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weeee Feb. 6, 2009 @ 3:31 a.m.

Well, when JamieRoxx moved into the groundfloor of a $400K+ glorified haphazard apartment via a subprime loan, she probably had no idea that her condo would lose half of its value within 2 years.

The Office, for all intents and purposes, is failing. Mr. Lithopoulos probably didn't realize that a cool million bucks doesn't equate to charm, a large group of regulars, or being able to turn a profit. I'm pretty sure that he's been on the record about not wanting the old crowd back, which is funny now when he's imploring the old regulars to at least try coming back. See, the thing that made North Park cool in the first place was the music. Scolaris never had a cover, even when you were going to see relatively popular bands playing an intimate venue. You could walk to Scolaris, and see awesome or awful bands play, for free. Meanwhile, the bar would pay the bands from the bar. So, bands would be paid quite well, people would show up just because they didn't have to pay for the privilege, and the bar would make tons of cash because everyone was able to stumble home, safely. This was when DJ nights were a relatively rare thing in North Park. Now you can go and pay more money to hear someone's "eclectic" playlist. If there are 5 bars having DJs on the same night, then nothing is unique or "eclectic", which was the North Park buzzword... circa 2008.

Theres a certain kind of uptight, self-righteous, extroverted pricks that do reviews on Yelp.com. Please don't dream up business plans from just those kinds of people... they'll be the first to come and tell you how rad of a job you've done before being attracted to whatever douchey "thing" is next. Lets all eat sushi off of naked Suicide Girls while DJ McDouche spins some eclectic urban oontz oontz funkpunk piano beatz in a Guantanamo-style cage suspending over lasers and water in City Heights before the Gaslamp picks up on it!

In all seriousness, Mr. Heaney did the right thing, which is why I walk to the Radio Room every weekend. If he paid bands from the bar, and not from covers, then I'd be all set. Make live music a threat again.

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Jose619 Feb. 6, 2009 @ 7:59 a.m.

Agreed. The Office sucks balls now. Same thing happened to second wind on ECB. It used to be a neighborhood dive joint, with a bunch of locals, but since the dude bought it and made it "Gilly's", it is now a boring Karoake bar with a bunch of college yuppies who play kickball. Thank God for Tobacco Rhonda's and the Amigo Spot!!!!

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adamcrisis Feb. 6, 2009 @ 5:25 p.m.

Lets all eat sushi off of naked Suicide Girls while DJ McDouche spins some eclectic urban oontz oontz funkpunk piano beatz in a Guantanamo-style cage suspending over lasers and water in City Heights before the Gaslamp picks up on it!

HAHAHAHA!

RAD

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adamcrisis Feb. 6, 2009 @ 5:27 p.m.

also for the record...sometimes an "upgrade' is a bullshart term to disguise a useless money gouge

upgrade my balls Mr Lithopoulos

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Fred Williams Feb. 6, 2009 @ 7:05 p.m.

It's Friday Night...those sushi bellied beauties have only about an hour to live and I'm hungry.

Rest assured I'll have along condoms, goggles and earplugs. You can't be too safe in North Park...especially when McDouche is resonating oontz oontz, the lasers flash and walls shake - faux furniture falls forward and doomed damsels dash dire plans, slipping sashimi, spilling the soy-wasabi down to their...

Mmmmm...

Thanks for the tip!

Rev. Dr. Fred "Fish" Williams Rector and Docent; Faith Always Reviving Tabernacle Director; Churches Allied for Spiritual Hope 202 Bullshart Street San Diego, CA 92101

All you desperate bar hopping posers, you who want to change your lives...

Make your checks and money orders out to the Churches Allied for Spiritual Hope, or simply "C.A.S.H."

Our first task is to sample all the vice and pretension so rampant in San Diego first hand. Your generous donations, along with the Fine Food For Fred Fund (5F) and Parents Eternally Rejecting Vulgar Eroticism (PERVE) support this important mission.

Give now and from your heart to help me confront this lifestyle to which none of you should ever be exposed. Though I sacrifice and risk all, it's in humble service to a greater cause.

Peace upon you my children. I eagerly await your donations.

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adamcrisis Feb. 7, 2009 @ 10:50 a.m.

Beautiful Mr Williams, I got a little blurry eyed reading it.

And as funny as it was, I think the true joke is someone spending a million boners on "The Office".

30th and University might be the new Meryl Lynch.

For those curious or out of the loop. The Radio Room is a good spot and kudos to the owner for keeping with the theme and not trying to open some new crap hole that wants to cater to the collars up crowd coughSoda Barcough.

Also the Ken Club, The Alibi, and The Tower are still out there to be enjoyed, where one can get his load on and not drop all his kitty.

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