Diego’s in Santa Ana Closes Its Doors For Good After This Weekend

We’re sad to say this is the second time in equally as many years that we’re reporting on the death of Diego’s. Earlier this month, organizers Scott Tucker and Vanessa Turbay of Sellout Productions, which leased the Santa Ana building and rebranded the former Mexican restaurant as a rock & roll bar, announced they were moving out of the prime spot on 224 E. Third St.

“We’ve had a great run, the room is fun, and all of the Santa Ana scene has been super-supportive. Bands like the Hurricanes, Desperadoes and Chris Gonzalez at Top Acid have been super-helpful. We’re just in a lease that we don’t want to continue,” says Tucker. “Sellout is looking to finance a new bar and keep it the same type of thing we’ve been doing. We’ve got some leads, and we’re in the final stretch.”

Three months ago, the company put in a notice that they weren’t going to continue with the upcoming lease renewal. The bar, which found its niche among leather-clad rockers, Downtown scenesters, aging punks, metalheads and the occasional swing band, opened in 2016 after Diego’s closed its doors the first time, mere months after opening and throwing shows full-time.

As of now, Sellout founder Tucker tells us, the building’s owners are looking for a food-oriented business to replace them, one that may not necessarily cater to live-music types. However, one might question that move given how that strategy worked out during the building’s former incarnations, BEFORE the area’s influx of amazing restaurants, including Mercado, Playground, Eat Chow and Yojie.

We’re also told that the neighboring Bar Ellipses (formerly known as the DTSA Underground) is closing its doors as well because of an inability to come to an agreement with the property owners about its format as an all-ages club. “The [building] owners wanted the bar to be 21-and-over, and [Bar Ellipses’ owners] wanted to keep it all ages,” Tucker says.

By the beginning of 2018, the once-bustling block of random clashes between punks, EDM kids and the tejana-wearing paisa crowd that crams into the Festival Hall every weekend will be a lot less colorful. Meanwhile, the adjacent Yost Theater (which shut its doors last April) is now basically just a rental space for big events owned by a catering company. Even with all of the growth in the city’s downtown, it’s hard to imagine the “it” factor surviving very long without enough decent live-music venues to anchor it.

“In addition to the music, you’ve got [restaurants], all with amazing food and great owners that really want to see the neighborhood grow,” Tucker says. “We really wanted to be a part of that, and it didn’t really work out. But the restaurant and the neighborhood growth was looking like it was gonna be the next Long Beach, the next Pine Avenue.”

But before we bum you out too much right before the holidays, remember that Diego’s ain’t done just yet. There’s still two live shows at the venue this weekend, including Sunset Strip rockers Junkyard along with Cornfed Project, Mink Daggers and the Schitz on Friday, and amplified blues masters the Dennis Jones Band to close out the venue. Make sure you’re there to take a shot and say farewell.

As far as the legacy it leaves behind, Tucker says Sellout’s brief time in Santa Ana has been good for the local music scene.

“There’s very few people who own and operate venues who give a shit about music,” he says. “And we were trying to bring back that feeling; it was a place that musicians would feel comfortable coming to and wanted to play at.”

For full info on and tickets for the final shows at Diego’s, visit the bar’s show calendar.

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