SAN DIEGO – Urban Mo’s Bar & Grill will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Thursday, April 19, and the community is invited to celebrate.
Mo’s, as it affectionately known by many, is often referred to as Hillcrest’s “adult playground” because of its laidback atmosphere, food, drink and fun environment. The venue has long been considered a “hub” of the LGBT community as it is consistently packed seven days a week, and is often home to numerous charitable, fundraising and other community events.
Long-time San Diego business owner and community activist Chris Shaw, with his partner Doug Snyder, opened Hamburger Mary’s in 1992 at 308 University Ave. After several successful years with Hamburger Mary’s, Shaw and Snyder gave the popular bar, restaurant and nightspot what they call a “sex change,” opening as Urban Mo’s Bar & Grill in September 2006.
Business has continued to thrive at Mo's, which hosts specials, theme nights and events every day of the week. In 2004, the company expanded and opened a sister restaurant, Baja Betty’s, at 1421 University Ave. Across the street, Gossip Grill joined the family of restaurants in 2009, and the Hillcrest Brewing Company is scheduled to open next month.
Shaw, whose early business adventures included opening West Coast Production Company, a popular dance club in the late 1970s, has always been committed to supporting the community that patronizes his businesses. For years, many charitable community organizations have received support from the business, which regularly gives to groups who serve those in need.
Delores Jacobs, CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, praised Shaw for his successes:
“We couldn’t be happier to congratulate Urban Mo’s on 20 successful years as one of Hillcrest’s neighborhood icons. Not only is Chris Shaw a wildly successful businessman with an amazing ability to open restaurants that become – and remain – extraordinarily beloved, he’s an incredibly generous partner and person. He has been one of The Center’s most consistent, longstanding supporters, and has been a supporter of many other organizations as well. We wish him and all of his companies another 20 years of success.”
The America's Finest City Softball League (AFCSL) also praised Urban Mo's for its support of the league:
Congratulations to AFCSL's most generous sponsor, Urban MO's Bar & Grill. Without you turning 20, we wouldn't be 31. Thank you for all your support the last 20 years. You truly are a special group of generous folks. Our league, indeed our community is lucky to have you!
The company says that more than 7 million guests have been served at Urban Mo’s since 1992.
San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria is expected to be at the Thursday evening celebration. The City Council has declared April 19, 2012 as “Chris Shaw & Doug Snyder Day in The City of San Diego” for the pairs' successful business history and charitable giving over the years.
"I look forward to tonight's celebration at Urban Mo's," Gloria told SDGLN. "After 20 years in business, philanthropy and community leadership, Chris and Doug deserve a lot of recognition."
The Hillcrest Business Association, which represents and promotes over 1,200 business in Hillcrest, says that Mo’s 20th anniversary celebrates much more than just a business in the area:
“Mo’s anniversary stands for good will towards an entire community, a place that friends and family call home, and a shared sense of belonging. The Hillcrest Business Association is proud to serve businesses like Mo’s, who through their own ethic, challenge all of us to work harder for the neighborhood. In sum, congratulations Mo’s on 20 years of being so truly fabulous in Hillcrest!"
The Mo’s Universe marketing and public relations team, consisting of Eddie Reynoso and Rick Cervantes, has been working this week to make sure the entire community receives an invitation to the affair. They have visited many businesses in the neighborhood and have developed invitations and advertisements to encourage people to attend.
Turning the celebration into a true community affair is important to the company, as so many people consider Mo’s and its sister restaurants to be like second homes.
When asking community members about some of their favorite Mo’s memories over the years, many recalled "The Great San Diego Blackout" of Sept. 8, 2011.
While just about every home, business and streetlight in San Diego County were dark that evening, Mo’s opened its doors to community members who had lost touch with family and friends and held a massive party complete with portable lights and a portable P.A. system.
Courtney Ware, an ally to the LGBT community and volunteer for numerous local organizations, says that Mo’s was the first spot she visited in Hillcrest.
“Wanting to see a drag show, I went to the Dreamgirls Revue one Wednesday night, and didn’t want to leave,” Ware said. “The energy of the place is infectious, and it is my absolute favorite place in Hillcrest.”
The party will begin at 6 pm, with a VIP reception taking place until 9 pm. Guests are encouraged to wear anything “outrageous.”
Urban Mo’s is located at 308 University Ave. in Hillcrest.
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The full text of the resolution presented by the City of San Diego, declaring April 19, 2012 to be "Chris Shaw & Doug Snyder Day:"
Chris Shaw & Doug Snyder Day
Urban MO’s 20th Anniversary
April 19, 2012
Presented By Councilmember Todd Gloria
WHEREAS, Chris Shaw and Doug Snyder have been pillars of the vibrant and diverse LGBT community that the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego houses since opening their first business, the West Coast Production Company, in 1979; and
WHEREAS, they have long been supporters of the San Diego LGBT community, hosting the earliest Pride festivals at the West Coast Production Company in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s; and
WHEREAS, through the compilation of their business and community friends, Chris Shaw and Doug Snyder worked to provide funding, resources and support for those affected by the HIV/AIDS crisis; and
WHEREAS, the Brad Truax house was an endeavor of Shaw and Snyder to provide a safe living environment for those affected with HIV/AIDS; and
WHEREAS, Chris Shaw and Doug Snyder live by the motto of “If there is not a strong community, there is not a strong business;” and
WHEREAS, 10% of their businesses profits are redistributed back into the Stepping Stone Village, the San Diego LGBT Community Center, and other agencies within the San Diego area; and
WHEREAS, in 1992 Shaw and Snyder bought what is now Urban MO’s, opening it as a country line dancing bar; and
WHEREAS, many of the annual gatherings at Urban MO’s are fundraisers for the LGBT community that is unrelenting in its efforts to protect and fight back from oppression; and
WHEREAS, Chris Shaw and Doug Snyder’s businesses provide a safe venue where patrons can be themselves while also allowing friends and family members an opportunity to experience the LGBT culture, NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the City of San Diego, that this Council, for and on the behalf of the people of San Diego, does hereby proclaim April 19, 2012, to be "Chris Shaw & Doug Snyder Day" in the City of San Diego.
Left photo: Chris Shaw and Doug Snyder.