Mo’s Main Man – Chris Shaw
One of Hillcrest’s most successful entrepreneurs is Chris Shaw, but most folks are more familiar with his popular restaurant/bars, Urban Mo’s (formerly Hamburger Mary’s) and Baja Betty’s, than the gentle man himself. The SD native has been involved in the LGBT business community since 1979 when West Coast Production Company (WCPC) opened on Hancock Street west of the I-5. The large warehouse with three jammed bars was “the” place for the gay community to dance the night away.
WCPC’s parking lot was the site for community Pride festivals from 1982 through 1984. The event moved downtown to the County Administration Building’s lot the following year, but when the ’86 festival was cancelled two weeks before the event, Chris again hosted the celebration as volunteers produced the first two-day festival in Pride’s history. The organization honored him as 1988’s Man of the Year and a Champion of Pride in 2006.
The man behind the man is Doug Snyder. Partners for 26 years, the pair has worked quietly to further community organizations for decades. Charitable giving is part of their annual budget. “The community gives so much to us and our businesses. Doug and I feel it’s important to give back as much as we can,” Shaw said.
Along with Tom Abbas, Chris was instrumental in founding the GSDBA Charitable Foundation, the group that produces Hillcrest’s annual Mardi Gras street party with the local business association. A portion of their proceeds provides scholarships for local LGBT youth. Chris is quick to credit his supportive staff when asked about his success. Always an optimist, the attitude is also reflected in his team of employees.
The 92103 resident continues to make the neighborhood even better by serving on the board of directors of the Hillcrest Business Association and leading their marketing committee. In their spare time, Doug and Chris are avid boaters and world travelers.
We have Chris to thank for bringing WCPC’s “party central” atmosphere to the neighborhood, then adding to it year after year. And the fun ain’t over — the lease for Mo’s and Kickers was just renewed for another 20 years.
First published in HillQuest, an Urban Guide to 92103 & beyond, volume 6