1310 Morena Boulevard, Linda Vista
O’Connells’ green trim went red in June when the bar was purchased by Mike Reidy, owner of Bar West in Pacific Beach.
“We’re not Bar West Two,” manager Joe Gleason emphasizes from one of the new booths at the Griffin, where O’Connells’ Irish motif has been swapped for a Medieval tavern aesthetic. “We gave it a textured, gritty feel because it’s a darker ambiance in here. We sandblasted the wood paneling and replaced the old carpeting with hardwood floors. The look is very purposeful.”
A full suit of armor overlooks the free shuffleboard. A mounted boar’s head observes the bar. A new 14-foot high-definition screen plays a football game in front of the stage. Electric candles flicker from chandeliers and Edison bulbs glow in overhead fans.
“We’ve refined the sound system incredibly — a new P.A., mics, soundboard,” says Gleason, who was one of the managers to open the Stingaree, a posh downtown club, seven years ago. “It’s not just a place for bands anymore. It’s also a dance party for college kids and locals. It’s very different from what this space has seen.”
In addition to names such as the Styletones, Dead Feather Moon, and the Lyon Crowns on the calendar, the Griffin has regular nights dedicated to blues, games, comedy, beach rock/reggae with Carlos Culture, and karaoke with Reckless Rhonda.
“We’re not at the beach or in the Gaslamp,” Gleason says. “There are logistical challenges to the location. One thing that helps is our huge parking lot in the back. We’ve also been researching gourmet food trucks, which are really burgeoning here in San Diego, and have identified a handful of quality trucks we want to work with.”
The Griffin offers two local and a few standard drafts but plans to expand the San Diego flavor with craft bottled beers in the future. Gleason is also working on a seasonal craft cocktail menu focusing on whiskeys and bourbons.
“People tend to brand us as a dive bar, which I don’t take issue with, but it’s limiting,” Gleason says. “We’re not a sports bar or a dive bar. We’re a next generation neighborhood bar. We have something for everybody.”
The Griffin celebrates its grand opening on Thursday, August 25, with Gabe Vega and the Howls.
Hours: 2 to 2
Happy: 2 to 7, $1 off everything
Prices: $4 wells, $6 premiums, $2 PBR pints