Reinventing Java Joe’s: popular coffeehouse/club returns to OB
by Bart Mendoza
Published - 08/22/12 - 02:22 PM | 11224 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Java Joe’s, whose namesake is Joe Flammini, above, has returned to Ocean Beach with a club at 4976 Newport Ave.                            
                                   Photo by Bart Mendoza I The Beacon
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Let’s hear it for lucky No. 7. The famed San Diego coffeehouse and music venue Java Joe’s has returned to Ocean Beach for a seventh incarnation of the revered nightspot.

Now situated at Ocean Beach Surf and Skate Shop at 4976 Newport Ave., only a few doors down from the site of its heyday at Newport Avenue and Bacon Street, the club has been in business in various locales, including Hillcrest, downtown, Poway and the College Area.

Despite successes in the other locations, nothing has resonated with local music fans like the club’s two previous Ocean Beach locations, where namesake Joe Flammini became a local legend and artists like Jewel, Jason Mraz, Steve Poltz and Gregory Page were regulars on his stages.

The building itself is mixed use: a retail and rental shop by day. However, with the quick movement of a few displays, the addition of folding chairs and a stage, it’s an impressive transformation.

Music lovers can find local and national touring acts Thursdays through Saturdays, with an open-mic night on Sundays.

Though Java Joe’s has a reputation as a top spot for acoustic music, bands are also featured — although nothing too heavy.

At the moment, the venue offers coffee and baked goods, but will soon have food available as well, prepared by Valerie Ugrinow.

“I just wanted to make food that was fresh and made to order — easy, fast food,” said Ugrinow. “There’s this whole push toward organic food, but usually you have to pay gourmet prices for it. I just thought OB needed something like that, which was fast and ready to go.”

Food will be available for lunch and dinner. One highlight of the current menu is a selection of smoothies, named after local performers.

“We have one for Bushwalla, Jerry Garcia and for Steve Poltz, we have one we call the ‘Lockjaw.’” Meanwhile, Gregory Page fans can purchase the “Heartstring” while Jason Mraz aficionados can partake of the “Beautiful Mess” smoothie.

After more than a decade away from his most successful location, Flammini laughs at the thought of ending up mere yards away from the original spot, which is now a Starbucks.

“The whole time I was away from OB, I always wanted to come back, but I never thought it would happen,” said Flammini. “And then, when this spot became available, I knew it was time to come back.”

While people come to Java Joe’s from all over the city, Flammini said he is particularly happy with the response from locals.

“I get comments every day from people, coming by and telling me that they used to come by the old spot,” he said. “I get a lot of support. A lot of people remember it and a lot of people are encouraged that I’m back. It’s always a good thing to hear positive feedback.”

Flammini is particularly proud of the reputation he’s earned for helping many internationally respected musicians.

“I feel that I’m fortunate that I’ve met the people that I did,” said Flammini. “It’s always great to see people we know make it.”

With so much musical success associated with Java Joe’s, word of mouth about the club remains good among the nation’s musicians.

“We get tons of phone calls every week,” he said. “Lots of people want to play here, but there are only so many days in the week. It’s great to know that after all these years, artists still want to be a part of this.”

With decades of providing entertainment and caffeinated beverages to San Diegans under his belt, Flammini notes running Java Joe’s, in whatever location, is just part of his lifeblood at this point.

“I just love the atmosphere, the music and the people I’ve gotten to know over the years,” Flammini said. “I was out of it for three or four years and it didn’t feel right. I feel more alive now that I’m doing it again.”

• Java Joe’s is located at 4976 Newport Ave. All ages.
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