Musician, published author and longtime bartender Ben Johnson is now a part-owner of The Casbah. Johnson, who began working at The Casbah in the late '90s, says when former co-owner Bob Bennett died earlier this year, it left an opening in the partnership.
Johnson approached founder and owner Tim Mays about the possibility of becoming a part owner, and without much fanfare, it was approved.
"There was no formality," says Johnson, in an interview at the 26-year-old music venue. "It was kind of just like, 'here you are.'"
Johnson—who is also in The Long and Short of It and Wha?, and raps under the name Grammatical B—notes that his stake in the club isn't a "controlling interest," but it does reaffirm his commitment to working for The Casbah, which he says never stopped being fun, even after 20 years of employment. However, Johnson also says that while his actual position at the club, managing the bar, won't be much different than it was before, it does "put things into perspective," and that he'll work just as hard as he ever has.
"I've been here a long time," he says. "I've been managing the bar for 10 years. Whatever needs to be done, I'm happy to do it.
"This doesn't really change what I actually do, but I probably have to come quicker when I get a call about something," he adds.
Johnson, who last year published his first novel, A Shadow Cast in Dust, says he's excited about the new change, and that his position now is pretty much ideal. As far as the future goes, he looks forward to The Casbah retaining its reputation as an important place in the San Diego music scene.
"I just want it to stay busy—just to stay relevant," he says. "To stay happening, cool—just keep the machine rolling."