Tavern keeper

Josh Callen

PHOTO/Brad Bynum

Blind Dog Tavern opened on Oct. 6 in the space formerly occupied by Monolith Bar, at 100 N. Arlington Ave. Owner Josh Callen named the bar in honor of his dog, Moose. The tavern’s grand opening will be on Oct. 29. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/blinddogtavern.

Who are you? Where did you come from?

Josh. I come from Nevada County—Grass Valley, Truckee area. There’s two things to do in Nevada County once you get out of high school …

… grow weed?

Pretty much. Get in trouble or get married. I wasn’t into doing either, so I moved to [San Francisco]. … I moved there about 15 years ago. Stayed for quite a long time. Loved it. Went through the first dot-com and right after, when it was kind of gritty and fun. I kind of outgrew it or it outgrew me. I got older. … I found myself gravitating back home, back to the mountains. I had a bar in the City as well.

What bar?

Cease & Desist. It was a fun little spot. It was called Buffalo Club at first, but then we got a cease and desist letter from another Buffalo Club. … We probably could have beat it, but it was more fun just to change the name. But I found myself traveling more up to Truckee and Tahoe, and getting back to my roots. So I sold it to my friends. There were three of us down there, so I sold out to those guys, and took a shot and moved back to Truckee to buy a bar up there initially. … Truckee gets expensive to stay, especially in the winter with the skiing and snowboarding, so I found myself staying in Reno all the time. … And I was digging Reno at the time, started to meet some people down here, and I liked the scene. It’s really a lot of fun. And this bar fell through in Truckee, and I was bummed. And it was almost like a natural progression to come down here. It felt more right.

I don’t know how much you know about the history of this location …It’s flipped quite a bit.

Monolith had a good run.They seemed to hit a wall, from what I’ve heard. But that’s OK. It benefited me. I like the space a lot. It’s just four walls. I think what we’ve done is pretty cool. It’s sexy in here—the lighting. It’s a neighborhood bar, but at the same time has a bit of a cool feel to it. But I’m a little biased. I did the space—a lot of high school wood shop came out. … [Monolith] had a good thing going, and good for them. But they were happy to sell and I was happy to buy it. … I just wanted to have a simple little life, run one place, and go skiing in the winter, catch some fishing in the summer, and have a bar in between.

What do you want to do, drink wise?

I enjoy spirits, and I enjoy cocktails. And I want everybody else to too. I really think we’ve gotten far enough into our day and age where we can enjoy a good cocktail and not call it a place fancy, and enjoy a good spirit and not call that high-priced. We can lower the prices and offer good things that are good for the world and good for the people, without being snobby. … The idea is to have good product, something you’d like, cocktails while you’re in a neighborhood dive bar—find that good medium.