New Elephant, Classic Lounge

John Reis (Rocket From the Crypt, Hot Snakes) becomes the latest rocker to enter the world of local bar ownership. Reis, his wife Ami, and two other couples formed a six-person partnership to purchase a full-liquor bar on 30th Street near University, a block south of Scolari's Office.

Reis and partners remodeled the shuttered Dino's and reopened it last month as the Pink Elephant. "We remodeled it as a classic cocktail lounge," said co-owner Dang Nguyen. "It's similar to Pacific Shores in Ocean Beach." He said the three ladies in the partnership have all worked together as bartenders at Pacific Shores.

Pink Elephant's liquor license allows for entertainment. Nguyen said he hopes to have live bands as soon as August 23. "That's when we have tentatively booked [local band] Hostile Combover."

Nguyen said Dino's had a legal capacity of 234. He expects that with the installation of booths, the capacity of the Pink Elephant will be between 150 and 175. The Casbah's legal capacity is approximately 200.

"We will build a stage, but we don't want to be a [music] club just to be a club. We don't want to charge a cover charge unless it's needed to pay bands. The Creepy Creeps also asked to play. We might get Bob Log III. We'd like to get the Woggles. John's been talking with booking agents. He has a wider contact list than me."

Nguyen says the Pink Elephant is the only bar he knows of with a jukebox with 7-inch 45 rpm singles by artists like Dick Dale, Booker T. and the MG's, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. "It's being repaired right now."

Sam Chammas said he used to have a 45 jukebox at his Whistle Stop bar in South Park. "It's good just to show 21- to 25-year-olds that there used to be a jukebox with records," says Chammas. He says he took his out "...because I got tired of getting calls every week saying it broke down again. They are 50-year-old machines."

Chammas, like Reis, is a former rocker who made his way into bar ownership. He was in the country-rock Outriders (1983--'89) and "twisted folk" bands Sons of Disaster (1990--'94) and Carnivorous Lunar Activity (1994--'99).

Nguyen said the Pink Elephant employs its share of local rockers, including Mark Gariss (Radio Wendy), Gabe Serbian (the Locust), and Andy Stamets (Rocket From the Crypt). "John [Reis] is even going to pull a Sunday afternoon bartender shift."

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