Thanks to an intervention by UCSD chancellor Pradeep Kholsa, the Ché Café has been saved. A lease has been signed by members of the Ché Café Collective that will allow the all-ages venue to reopen once improvements have been made.
1000 Scholars Drive, UCSD
The Ché has not hosted bands since April while the collective and the administration started haggling over lease specifics. After the installation of fire sprinklers and ADA bathroom improvements, the Ché is expected to be ready again for live shows in December or January.
UCSD alum Monty Kroopkin helped form the cooperative that created the Ché in the ’70s. He has been part of a group of students, faculty, alumni, and community supporters who rallied around the Ché when it became clear UCSD administrators wanted the collective to go away in 2014. They fought back with litigation, petitions, and a round-the-clock “occupation” in reaction to an eviction notice posted in March 2015 served by sheriff’s deputies.
Kroopkin says the new lease grants the collective use of the building for 40 months and an automatic option to re-up for another 48 months after that. He says as long as the collective pays its liability insurance and maintains its nonprofit status, the Ché can continue to exist.
“It was always lower-level administrators who had an axe to grind,” says Kroopkin. “They scared the Associated Students and orchestrated this whole thing to get us out. They lied about things like how we needed a whole new electrical [system]. The chancellor stepped in and put a stop to it. He used money from his own discretionary fund for the improvements.”
Kroopkin says it was the fact that so many groups resisted the Ché’s death as a music venue that helped save it. “Yes [Kholsa] was an angel in terms of turning the tide, but we earned it.”
Cameron Royce, 20, plays solo and as a member of Cameron Royce and the Lizards. He’s also a Ché Collective “core member,” which means he helped produce live shows. Where have touring and local bands been going with no Ché?
“We find houses that are willing to throw a show, but I find that only lasts once or twice. I’ve seen more shows lately at record stores. Red Brontosaurus Records has done a lot. I’m doing a couple shows at Normal Records in North Park.... A lot of times the Soda Bar will present shows at the Ché so they can get an all-ages audience for a particular band. But now, the Soda Bar is just doing that show at the Soda Bar itself.
“There are a few other all-ages places like Soma, but this place emphasizes community and being a safe, sober space. Anyone can come here. Especially marginalized people. People who come here don’t come to get rowdy.”