Dean Velasco: building a group-friendly place in East County.
The Mesa is live “My mom was on welfare,” says Dean Velasco, who grew up in a La Mesa family with little money. “We had government cheese, and when we ran out it was mayonnaise and bread. I worked all my life to get something. My wife has been with me for 29 years. When we met, I had a scooter. We had 75 cents, and we put gas in it and drove around San Diego and did all the free stuff.
Velasco’s current job involves working as a senior system architecture engineer for a local technology company. He works more than 50 hours a week there and is currently adding to that tally by opening Deano’s Pub, his new bar in the West Baltimore mall of La Mesa. He operates in the location once occupied by The Alibi. “I know how to work, he explains while preparing the club. “I’m here doing all my own drywall. I’ve been here every day, cleaning and scraping the walls and trying to make this place a little different, because I don’t want people to think I’m opening Alibi 2.0.
Velasco hopes to do its part to add to East County’s live music scene, which some people consider to be far behind downtown, downtown and the beaches when it comes to bars offering live music. He has a history of managing local pop-punk outfit Look Up Here and their predecessor Zero2nonE, and is familiar with the often strained relationship between bar owners and musicians.
He is adamant that Deano will treat his talent well. “I’m a fan of local music and small bands that are there to grind. I will be friends with the group here. When the groups come, they will be paid. They will not sell tickets. We do not sell tickets. He plans to book some of the acts that play Full Circle Saloon at Santee. He is close to the owner of this place, Michelle Bailey, and already refers to Deano’s Pub as Full Circle’s “little sister bar”. These numbers include rock cover bands such as 8FIVE8, Serious Guise and Sonic Moonshine.
It’s perhaps worth noting that before the pandemic, Velasco served as the DJ on the largest float in the Pride parade for four straight years. So while he’s a DJ himself and knows that DJs have slowly replaced live music on Friday and Saturday nights out west, he knows East County and his plan is to lock in bands for the nights of weekend. “I want to be careful of the DJs, the traditional ‘thump-thump-thump’ DJs,” he says, “because I don’t think that’s the demographics of the neighborhood, and I don’t think that’s necessarily what people might want here I’m not turned off to that idea I just don’t know if I’ll go with EDM [Electronic Dance Music] kind of DJ. If I go with DJs, it will be someone who plays the music that people like to listen to, from the 80s and 90s and that kind of thing. Not so much club vibe.
He notes that the music will play second fiddle to the main purpose of the pub, which is to serve as a bar where all are welcome. This last element is important: Velasco is very involved in the LGBT community. But he is quick to point out that it extends even beyond that. “Everyone goes back to high school and their feelings on the first day of high school. I was a theater nerd. I loved drama, and I loved theater and all that. I wanted it to be: if you’re a theater lover, you can come here and still feel cool and have a cool place to hang out. Many times I feel like you have to be part of a clique to get to certain places from here. I just want to come in and have fun. Why do I have to be part of your regular crew for fun? »
- Saturday, February 5, 2022, 8 p.m.
5286 Baltimore Drive,
The venue has already had a soft opening, with an official grand opening scheduled for the first week of February. “We don’t have happy hour right now. We have specials every day for $5 for Jamison, $5 for Deano’s house, and $3 for PBR. So we’re starting to book bands. Last Friday we had Z Matrix and The Hammerheads. It was awesome.. Original bands with a bit of a mix if covers. Our grand opening on February 5th we have I90 playing.