Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Show Me Your Chee Chee's!

The Chee Chee Club has been downtown before downtown began its major redevelopment boom of the past few years or two+ decades (depending on when you think that started). While the area has been developed/gentrified/cleaned (depending on your political bent) the Chee Chee has been left standing in the same spot at 10th and Broadway for years. I can't even speak to whether or not it's ever been nice, but in my lifetime it was a scary bar where the only people I know who ever went there did so on a dare. The bar became known for the bad element, drug busts, and a hangout for both gay and straight prostitutes. It was definitely seedy.

Over the course of the past couple years, Brett Bodie (owner of the Ken Club and co-owner of the Chee Chee) and after various stings and busts, decided he'd had enough. He's been cleaning it up little by little, starting with cutting the hours from a full day to noon to 8pm. He's been anticipating reopening the bar for a while and is finally ready for a soft opening.

This Friday, there's a private show featuring Hotel St George, The Tighten-Ups, and Team Abraham on the roof of the 10th Avenue Theatre. (Hit up the bands, you might be able to get on the list). The theatre shares the same lot as the Chee Chee, and since the roof-top show will be over by 10, the after party will roll into the Chee Chee. I'm looking forward to it and hope it fills the void left when Landlord Jim's shut down...maybe not a place I go every weekend, but a place that I know is there that I can hit on those occasions when I happen to be downtown.

I got the word that Bodie was still down working on the bar, so Todd and I made a visit. It is far cooler than I had imagined and with a few more touches could be quite a great spot, especially pre- or post- Street Scene, before or after a Padres game, or a spot to hit before or after any given House of Blues show.


catdirt said...

I've read the final report of investigation of the half year long sting operation that resulted in 50+ arrests in 2007. I believe the reduced hours was a condition of not having their liquor license taken away, unless the District Attorney handling that investigation was lying to me.

The report, which involved undercover agents spending lots of time inside chee chees, was totally horrifying, and I mean that in the most serious way possible. Officers observed people vomiting/urinating on themselves in the main bar area not to mention rampant, open, repeated use of fun drugs like crack cocaine.

The area immediately outside che chees was also a favorite for street level crack cocaine dealers, largey aided and abetted by the hours and clientele of chee chees.

I'm glad that it's being cleaned up, but the fact that the owner of the Ken Club allowed Chee Chee's to operate in its former state for years without lifting a fucking finger makes me angry and makes me lose respect for both him and the Ken Club.

by Mario S. said...

I remember when I moved here I was 12 and walking around downtown with my brother and I'll never forget walking by Chee's Chee's for the first time. Oh the weirdness of it all.

Tyler said...

roof top shows rarely happen, so that's pretty cool. Glad the bar is hopefully going to improv. The yelp comments do paint a sad picture of the place. I've always been too scared to go!

Rosemary Bystrak said...

I went last night around 11 pm with my friend Todd. Granted, the bar hasn't technically reopened, but the door was wide open as Brett was fixing things up around the bar and painting the bathroom. The street was barren unlike in the past when the bus stop in front has people loitering around. I felt safe and the bar was impressively clean, kinda reminded me of Bluefoot inside with the color scheme.
Obviously it's not perfect; it isn't striving to be a "downtown" bar, but when your only option to get a drink under $5 in downtown is at Star Bar or Jewel Box, to me it's a welcome improvement. The Hong Kong is just up a block and I hear that is supposed to be open before Street Scene barring any more issues with the permits(they had to create and ADA bathroom and the property owner had to make modifications to the parking lot for ADA accessibility.)