The Ambassador Lounge is a bar in Point Loma near the intersection of Rosecrans Street and Nimitz Boulevard. It’s not exactly a dream location, but it’s certainly a cool space with the added bonus of a nice stage and plenty of floor space to watch a band.
2901 Nimitz Boulevard, Point Loma
Ali Rhodes has been managing the bar since they opened two years ago. The business took over what was formerly Riley’s Sports Bar. She has had some success with local bands, and is now testing the waters with an open mic night on Fridays.
“I have two people that come in on a pretty weekly basis,” Rhodes said. “There have been a couple of times when the turnout has been really good, and there’s been a couple of times when the turnout has been nothing. One week, I think we had about 15 performers that were there for hours on end, singing and performing, but that only happened one week.”
1466 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach
Jeremy Miller was lucky when he took over the Monday night open mic at the PB Cantina. It came equipped with many of the same performers who had been showing up for the open mic at the same location when the bar was still RT’s Longboard Grill. He also hosts another open mic at the Saddle Bar in Solana Beach on Sunday nights.
He said that at both venues “There’s a baseline number of people you can expect, and some nights just go crazy for no reason. I can count on eight to nine musicians showing-up no matter what, and there’s going to be a nice little crowd of their friends there.”
Both of Miller’s open-mic gigs cater to the “industry crowd.” In this case it’s not just the club and hospitality workers, it’s also the musicians themselves — including Miller. He said that he’s “generally either playing music or doing sound for a big show on the weekends.” He felt that many of his performers were in the same boat. His open mics also benefit from being a fun option on nights with fewer options.
“I’ve walked up and down Garnet on a Monday before I worked and it was pretty slow all up and down — which was to be expected. Then, sure enough, at the PB Cantina open mic there’s lots of kids out. If nothing else, it’s just a little bit of scene and people want to be where other people are,” he said.
Since we’re talking bars, Miller also stressed the importance of a drink special, which is exactly what the Ambassador Lounge has going for them. They have a late-night (8-12) happy hour that syncs up with their open mic. Besides this and the free parking, the main draw, according to Rhodes, is that “you get to be a superstar on a Friday night.”