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May 2024
Vol. 23, No. 8

The Starving Musicians

The Starving Musicians: Where to Eat in This Town

by Jim Soldi & Rick SparhawkApril 2012

The Starving Musicians: Rick Sparhawk and Jim Soldi

Cheers in Ramona

Like many of you, we’re just a couple of aspiring, undiscovered musicians living on meager budgets and trying to eke out a living, doing what we love to do, namely, making music. It’s a challenge that’s getting harder and harder to meet and in today’s uncertain economic climate, we often find ourselves having to make difficult choices like “should I buy a new set of strings today or should I eat?”

Now, we’re almost certain that it has been scientifically proven (somewhere) that a steady diet of Cup-O-Noodles and Der Weinerschnitzel’s can dull one’s creative process, so with this restaurant review series we want to recommend some eating establishments here in the greater San Diego area where you can fill your belly with an ample plate of really good food, maintain that creative edge — and equally important — credit the clubs and restaurants that support the livelihood of local musicians as a performance venue. We’re making the choice to embrace those eateries that value our music.

Rest assured, we won’t be reviewing the local Denny’s, IHOP or Macdonalds… and we certainly won’t be setting foot in any pay-to-play joints that have us and our loyal fans buying their product while paying us nada. Nope! We simply take issue with such a pervasive level of disrespect being displayed here in our hometown and will take our business to those who respect us.

In this first installment, we offer up a club in Ramona on Highway 67 called Cheers, not far from OutHouse Recording Studio where we are currently spending time memorializing our original tunes and honing our craft. Known primarily to locals as a bar that serves beer and mixed drinks, Cheers is an unpretentious local dive, hosting live music several nights a week (fans of Tim Flannery, Steve Poltz, and Sarah Petite have probably already attended some shows there) while offering up some exceptional food all week long. The decor is funky, with a digital jukebox, a couple of pool tables, and several TV screens strategically placed, so you can keep up with your favorite sports events. Add a couple of rolls of chicken wire and you’d have a bona fide Honky Tonk — but the fare is worth talking about.

Although they’re primarily known for their tasty, award-winning gourmet hamburgers (we highly recommend the avocado burger, but augment it with some bleu cheese — it’s awesome!! ), should your budget be stretched really thin for the month, head out on a Tuesday and you can fill the void with a helping of tacos for only a buck apiece. It’s not exactly a gourmet meal, but it’s strangely satisfying in the way that only homemade tacos can be, and hey, you’ll have enough money left over to enjoy one of the fine beers they have on tap or else purchase that set of strings.

If a massive pulled-pork sandwich is what you crave, drop in for the Wednesday special, but be prepared to take half of it home with you.

Monday evenings are special, too, ’cause that’s when Cheers serves up its killer steak dinners, which are comprised of a tasty Caesar salad and a big baked potato, along with a generously thick portion of (get this) filet mignon, New York, or rib eye that is charcoal-grilled to perfection by the owner, Sean, and served to you for a ridiculous price of $10!

As a performance venue, they feature a modest resident PA system and some on-off colored lights. The slightly raised stage set back in one corner can easily accommodate a four-piece band, but if you are a high-energy Metallica tribute band, you might be better off doing your thing elsewhere.

This is definitely the kind of joint that fits the criteria we’re looking to advocate in our restaurant review series. Feel obliged to announce your vocation as a musician to the waitress or owner when you eat there. That way they will make the connection that any increased business this month stems from a decisive effort by artists to reward those who support and value our work.

Pleasant eating,
The Starving Musicians

Cheers is located at 2475 Main Street in Ramona. 21 and up. For further info, call 760.789.0270, or visit

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