Community Feature

New Brass Rail, New Beginnings: Brass Rail Celebrates 89 Years

By JP Emerson

Step inside a time capsule and join us as we embark on a journey through history, celebrating the remarkable milestone of the Brass Rail (formerly The Rail) in Hillcrest. For an impressive 89 years, this iconic establishment has been serving up unforgettable experiences and unparalleled hospitality to locals and visitors alike. From its humble beginnings to its status as a beloved institution today, let’s dive into the captivating story behind Brass Rail and explore what the future holds for this storied gem in America’s Finest City. 

From the Brass Rail’s humble beginnings in the early 1930s, amidst the bustling streets of San Diego, a modest eatery named Brass Rail emerged. It started as a small diner with just a handful of seats and a simple menu featuring classic American fare. However, what set it apart from other establishments was its unwavering commitment to quality and exceptional service. Word quickly spread about this hidden gem. Locals flocked to Brass Rail for a good time that left their social needs met and left them eager to return.

Throughout the years, Brass Rail witnessed significant changes within the city’s landscape but managed to retain its timeless charm. Its walls became adorned with photographs capturing cherished memories shared by generations of patrons who considered Brass Rail their second home.

The dedication of its staff played an integral role in cultivating this sense of familiarity and warmth. With smiling faces behind the bar, guests were always made to feel valued and welcomed. A previous member of its staff, Urbano Pelicon, who has worked in many bars and nightclubs in Hillcrest over the past couple of decades, left Brass Rail in 2012 and told the previous owners that if the opportunity ever arose, it would be a dream of his to take over ownership. Turns out, dreams do come true!

The Brass Rail today is a vibrant and beloved institution in San Diego. With its rich history and commitment to serving delicious drinks, it continues to be a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike.

But it’s not just the drinks that make Brass Rail special. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with a cozy setting and friendly staff who always make you feel welcome. Whether you’re grabbing a drink with friends or enjoying a night out on the town, Brass Rail provides an experience that keeps people coming back for more.

As Brass Rail celebrates its 89th anniversary, it’s clear that this beloved establishment is not resting on its laurels. With a strong foundation built on tradition and a commitment to quality, Brass Rail continues to evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of its patrons.

Looking ahead, the future of Brass Rail looks bright. Always striving to enhance the overall experience while maintaining the nostalgic charm that has made it an iconic part of San Diego’s history. From updating the interior decor to expanding the entertainment schedule with exciting new events, every effort is being made to ensure that Brass Rail remains at the forefront of nightlife in San Diego.

“We will bring Brass back. In other words, we will rename The Rail, back to its original “Brass Rail” name. We will continue to host amazing events like Brass Rail has been doing for decades, such as Sabados en Fuego, and we will bring back some legendary nights that everyone has been asking for and missing, like Manic Mondays. Brass Rail will be involved in the community more, by providing various fundraisers, sponsorship of LGBTQ+ inclusive sports teams, hosting community events and much more. Brass Rail is finally Gay-owned and managed. I feel this was a big component that this legendary establishment has been missing for a long time. We (Isaac and I) are both very committed to The Rail, soon to be Brass Rail, and to continue its historical staple”, said new managing owner Urbano Pelicon.

But perhaps most importantly, as it moves forward into its next chapter, Brass Rail remains committed to keeping alive the spirit and legacy that has defined it for nearly nine decades. It will continue serving up refreshing cocktails and exceptional entertainment, providing exceptional service with a smile, and creating memories that last a lifetime. “The most important aspect is to preserve its legacy. I feel that this establishment has played an important role in our community and LGBTQ+ history nationwide. We want to continue that. We want to provide a safe space for everyone, to be themselves, to be YOU,” Pelicon added.

So, whether you’re visiting for the first time or returning after many years away – know that when you step inside those doors at 3796 Fifth Ave., you’re not just entering another watering hole; you’re stepping into living history. And as long as there are people who appreciate good cocktails, music, and entertainment that is served with warmth and care, we can be certain that Brass Rail will continue thriving for generations yet unborn.

So, let’s join new managing owner Urbano Pelicon and his business partner Issac Vargas on Sunday, September 24th as we wish Brass Rail a Happy 89th Anniversary! May your future be filled with even greater success, Cheers!