In our June issue of Born To Roam’s newsletter, we did a story on the World Famous Biker Bar of Johnny’s Bar and Grill in Hollister, California (Click Here to read). The article touched on the brief history of the bar and how it became a true American icon and influence on the “Biker Culture and Experience” since the infamous Hollister Riot of 1947. What we didn’t realize was the story behind the story of the present owner of Johnny’s, Charisse Tyson. A story about how her life at Johnny’s was transformed by living in a codependent relationship with an alcoholic husband, rediscovering her Christian roots and the ups and downs of owning a famous biker bar in a town that was more than a little “Biker-Phobic”. There was a story here about Charisse’s own journey of self-discovery and faith leading her to become an award winning author and a calling her to become a “Christian Freedom” coach for men and women everywhere.
After reading the book, we were compelled to get more background from Charisse on the inspiration, processes and impact "Born Again in a Biker Bar" has made on her life and what was next for this strong woman of action. Luckily, Charisse generously gave us some of her “limited” downtime to answer a few questions for this months feature.
B2R: What made you decide to write the book “Born Again in a Biker Bar” to begin with and when?
CT: I started working on my memoir in about 2000 but I wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go with the story. I started and stopped, going long periods without writing anything, which made it tough to pin down the story I should tell. It wasn’t until I went to the Southern California Writers Conference in 2009 that I really took finishing my book seriously. I took a class titled, “Do You Have a Story,” taught by Marla Miller who wound up editing my book for me. She went around the room asking people what their story was and asking us to tell it in as simple terms as possible. I said, “I’m a Christian woman, I own a world famous biker bar and I’m married to recovering alcoholic.” She said, “You have a story.”
B2R: What was your main “inspiration” and how long did it take?
CT: It was like a light bulb went off in my head and I knew the story that needed to be told was the tale of redemption that my husband and I had experienced. It was truly a miracle. There was a long period of time when no one but me put any hope in my husband’s sobriety. As you read in my book, Tommy was drinking at least two liters of alcohol a day besides what he drank in Johnny’s and other bars around town. Having been in the bar business for 2/3 of my life I’d witnessed a lot of really hopeless situations and I wanted to let people know that there was hope. If God could work miracles for Tommy, and me He could do it for anyone. Once I knew the story I wanted to tell it still took me years to write it. I was busy running Johnny’s and hadn’t learned to delegate yet, so the time I was investing was minimal. I continued to go to writer’s conferences and learn more about the art of writing and finally published it myself in April of 2013.
B2R: What prior experience did you have as a writer?
CT: I’ve always loved to write. I have a story that I wrote when I was five years old about a girl and her pony and its three pages long. It amazes me that I accomplished that at such a young age. When I was managing a bar in San Jose, California at the tender age of nineteen, my best friend and I kept saying that we needed to write a book about all of the crazy stuff that went on. Life can be stranger than fiction, especially in the bar business.
Charisse Tyson's "Born Again in a Biker Bar"
One of the things I learned at those conferences is how hard it is to get a book published by a traditional publisher. Since I had a built in market with Johnny’s, I decided to publish the book myself. I wanted to put out the best quality book that I could though. I did more rewrites than I could count and when I didn’t think I could stand to read it one more time I sent it off to my editor. Marla cut 70,000 words from it. She said it was reading too much like an autobiography and not a memoir. The average word count for a memoir is 50,000, so she pretty much cut the equivalent of an entire book out of it. But when she was done with her red pen and I rewrote it again it was a much better read. Editors know what they are doing so even when they are causing you pain, it’s for your own good and the story that you are trying to tell. After Marla edited it I paid a copy-editor for a second edit. She looked for any grammatical, punctuation and spelling mistakes. Then I paid for the book to be formatted. A friend designed the original cover for me and I thought it was fabulous and spoke to our story. The original title was Miracles and Grace in an Unlikely Place (Memoir of a Christian Woman Biker Bar Owner). It was a bit too long so I changed it to Born Again in a Biker Bar. The first cover had a Bible and a cocktail on it, which threw some people off. Christians didn’t buy the book because of the cocktail and non-Christians didn’t because of the Bible. I paid a lot of money to have the current cover made. I’ve invested quite a bit of money to have a quality book.
The Chief had retired and he was part of a Christian men’s group that included my husband. They met for lunch every Tuesday. One day at lunch he told Tommy that he had downloaded my book onto his Kindle. My husband warned him that there were two bad guys in the book and they were both sitting at the table.
B2R: Another big part of your book deals with your growing and changing relationship with God and your faith as a Christian. How has this part of your life changed since the writing of the book? Do you feel the book itself was part of His plan? Was the book a catalyst for you to become a Christian Freedom Coach?
CT: There is no doubt in my mind that God’s plan all along was for me to write my book. The more I grow in my relationship with Christ, the more I want to be used by Him. I’ve got a lot more stories to tell and have done so in my blog posts and my Facebook Live feeds. The feedback I get assures me that I’m fulfilling God’s plan for my life. Helping other codependents has become apassion and that’s why I decided to become a Christian Freedom Coach. If I can help others find the peace and joy that I now experience, in a lot less time then it took me to figure it out, I’ll be making a positive impact on the world.
B2R: Mother, wife, entrepreneur, business woman, writer and heaven knows what’s next. What has been the most rewarding for you?
CT: The most rewarding part of my life is being used by God in whatever capacity He chooses to do that. Whether it’s as a writer, a wife, a mother and coach or a bar owner, if I am being used for His glory I’m thrilled.
B2R: What is the one thing (or two) you would tell our readers about what makes “Born Again in a Biker Bar” a must read?
CT: Whether someone is interested in Johnny’s history or the miracle of an alcoholic and a codependent’s transformed lives, Born Again in a Biker Bar is a good read. The compliment I enjoy the most is when people me that it made them laugh and cry. Being able to touch people in a profound way is the ultimate goal of all writers. I’m proud to know that I have been able to do that.
B2R: At the end of your book, you mention “I long to write full time and hope to someday sell Johnny’s”. Are you ready to “close the book” on Johnny’s as you begin a new one so to speak?
CT: With more delegating I can spend more time writing. My prayer now is that God sends me the right buyer for Johnny’s so I can start the next chapter of my life. The wonderful, iconic bar has taken very good care of us but I’m ready to hand it over to someone else who will honor its place in history as well as our community.
From the moment one begins to read the first page and until you reach the final sentence, you are guaranteed to be put through a story that encompasses all the ups and downs of an emotional roller coaster you’d expect from a book that covers a wide variety of topics. Whether the chapter focuses on the day to day drama of a codependent love affair, the craziness of a biker bar (and its clientele) or the personal struggle of a strong charismatic business women leaning on her faith to never give up, you won’t get a better entertainment for the cost of a cheap cup of coffee and donut (about the price to download her book on Amazon).
What makes Born Again in a Biker Bar a success is the fact that it is real. From the story that is told to how the story is told. So real, in fact, that you feel like you are a fly on the wall. You are somehow witnessing the story as it takes place right from the beginning to the end. Only in being real, the story doesn’t end. Even though you finish the last page, you know that Charisse’s life will continue on. Just like anyone else, the challenges faced and surmounted by her in the book will be replaced by new ones. That’s just how life works. But you also know that just like those challenges were met with courage and faith, she will fight the fight to again persevere and win the battle. And that can’t help but inspire you to do the same.
We encourage you to learn more about Charisse Tyson by buying her book and by contacting her through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ .
Thank you Charisse for your, time and contributions to Born To Roam in making this article possible and helping so many people through all that you do!
B2R: It is amazing how well you recall events. There must have been thousands to choose from. Was this difficult in picking certain incidents? How did others feel about being included in the book?
CT: After years of talking about writing my book, any time something crazy would happen people would tell me that it had to go into the book. Most people thought it would be fun to be mentioned in the book but some asked not to be. I changed some names to protect the guilty (laughing out loud).
N.C.I.B Vice President Raymond R. gets a photo opportunity with the "smile seen around the world" of the iconic mascots Joe and Buffy of the famous "Eskimo Joe's" during a Poker Run through Stillwater, Oklahoma!
The "Giving Hearts" of the N.C.I.B.
While traveling southbound down I-35 just outside of Wichita, a man from somewhere up north stops to fill his tank and asks a bystander, “You wouldn’t happen to know how to get to Oklahoma State University from here would you?”, “Sure do.” is the answer back. “You’ve know where Stillwater is right?” the traveler scratches his head for a moment then answers, “Well, not exactly” is the reply. “Well surely you’ve heard of Perry, Oklahoma.” With a broad grin the traveler replies “Well of course! Everyone knows about Perry! Home of the Noble County Independent Bikers and the many good works those folks due!” “Well sir” says the bystander, “You just continue on I-35, go a stone’s throw past Perry, take Exit 174 and head east. You’ll get there I reckon.”
The chances of this conversation ever taking place would be a miracle. Truth is most people have never heard of Perry, Oklahoma, much less the Noble County Independent Bikers. With a population of around 5,000 people, Wikipedia is quoted to say about Perry that “The city is arguably best known as the birthplace of Ditch Witch construction equipment”. But if fame, honor and fortune were given to the good works of humble, big hearted and compassionate people, the N.C.I.B. of Perry, Oklahoma would be as well known about Oklahoma as Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. Maybe even the OSU Cowboys or that other collegiate team a little further south (insert grin and wink). So if you are more interested in every day miracles from the dedication of “giving hearts” (rather than ditch digging machinery), and the truth about what should put Perry Oklahoma on the map, than you don’t need to look any further than the charitable efforts of the Noble County Independent Bikers or N.C.I.B.
First established in 1998 by fourteen members, the N.C.I.B. started as an “Unofficial” charity organization that worked to put on events and activities to raise funds for individuals or organizations in need in the Perry and the Noble County community. Unfortunately, after operating for a few years,
the organization dissolved. However, in the latter part of 2015, many of the original members saw the need to come together again to assist in aiding certain causes throughout the community and in January of 2016 the Noble County Independent Bikers became an official organization and has continued operating as such ever since.
At present, there are around 78 members of the Noble County Independent Bikers. While a majority of the members are from Perry, Oklahoma, they do have members that are located throughout most of the county and some members from outside of county as well. The N.C.I.B. has a very strong relationship with the ABATE chapters out of Ponca City, OK (Kay, County) and some of their members also hold an NCIB membership. Several members also hale from Stillwater, OK (Payne, County) area.
On the N.C.I.B. website’s “About” page, they note that they are a “non-profit organization of bikers” who only require a “heart to give” to become a member. In fact, approximately 30 percent of their members don’t ride motorcycles. This goes along with their philosophy of promoting themselves as a charitable organization rather than a motorcycle club and is reiterated in the last sentence of their about page as simply “motorcycles not required”. Although make no mistake, their roots are deep in Biking.
While it would be noble enough (pun intended) to schedule one or two events a year to benefit those in need, the N.C.I.B.’s 2017 calendar shows the organization holding sixteen events just from April through November and in looking at the past years events, don’t be surprised to see more fund raising events as further needs
A Word of Thanks
Born To Roam would like to thank Charisse Tyson, Dakota Keith of N.C.I.B., John Capone of Bradley's and Grayson Webb of Green Bean Socials for their contributions to our stories! Each month we will continue to bring our readers more "news" from our partners in order to help spread the word about the many and varied wonderful places, products and events available to our Roaming Community.
If you enjoyed our newsletter and would like to be featured in one of our monthly issues, please let us know and we will put you down on our list. There is no cost or obligation to you at all.
Please help us in spreading the word about all of our partners by sharing, liking and following us on Facebook. It is our goal to be the number one "Free Listing" website for Biker Resources.
Featured Biker Events For July
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Tommy didn’t read the book until I got my proof. He was very supportive because he knew that it could help people. Now he’s my copy-editor for my blog posts.
B2R: You really “bare it all” in the book including intimate issues in your relationship with Tommy and political dealings with certain members of the community. A lot of this story deals with calling out the Police, City Council and some employees’ behavior. Were you concerned about their reaction?
CT: I didn’t have a problem “baring it all” in the book because I believed that every bit of it was necessary to tell the real story. My personality is like that. I am what you would describe as a, tell it like is, person and I did that with my book. I was a little bit concerned about backlash from the Chief of Police because I was so blunt about how the police department treated the motorcycle rallies; its attendees, and me. The Chief and I bucked heads but I always went right to his face to tell him how I felt. I knew he was a Christian and that’s why I trusted that he’d never
use his power to intentionally hurt my business or me. Chief Miller just didn’t like or trust bikers so he didn’t want the rally. There’s a funny story about that. God has such a sense of humor.
B2R: What “post” impact on you has the book had on your life and at Johnny’s?
CT: It’s a crazy paradox. My legacy will be about the lives I’ve touched through my books, my blogs, my coaching and my biker bar. It isn’t easy being a Christian bar owner. I can’t hang around at night anymore because there is so much inappropriate behavior that the kids today think nothing of. I’ve finally come to a place where I can delegate some of the responsibilities and be less of a one-woman show. That comes from God doing a work in me and dealing with my codependency. We never stop growing in the Lord. At least we shouldn’t. I always quote my mentor, Joyce Meyer, and say, “I’m not where I need to be but thank God I’m not where I used to be.”
B2R: Are you presently working on a new book? If so, what subject are you looking at?
CT: I’ve written a first draft of a work of fiction. I haven’t worked on any rewrites yet. The title, which could change, is She Found Happiness on the Way Through Hell. The young woman’s life in the story parallels mine a lot, except that her mother is a sleaze-ball and mine is not.
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may dictate. All this makes the N.C.I.B. an amazing organization in the many and diversified people, organizations and programs they contribute their time, funding and charity toward.
The group hosts “Wheel Night”, which is their form of a Bike Night (though cars are welcome too), which meets once a month from April through September. Each wheels night starts at 6 p.m. at Ace's High Bar in Perry. The event consists of a potluck dinner, 50/50 drawing and door prizes. All funds raised go to a family or organization in need.
Another event is the N.C.I.B. “Bug Run”. The 2017 calendar shows this event running during the months of April, June, July and August. Each bug run leaves from and returns to the 101 Bar in Perry. Ten dollars gets you a sticker and any money raised at the event goes to a family or organization in need. The start time is dependent on the weather and is determined a few days before the run. Because of this, updates are available on their Facebook page as the date approaches.
There are also some general events throughout the months spanning April through November which include Bike and Car Shows (partnered with the Chamber of Commerce), Poker Runs (that benefit specific families in need as well as public schools) and a Toy Run that benefits the local FOP (Fraternal Order of Police).
The N.C.I. B. officially meets once a month at the “DAWG HOUSE” (the current President’s shop) and is a relatively informal get together to discuss the business of helping the community and raising much needed funds for those in need. However, it is not uncommon to find members hanging out at the shop throughout the month to meet,
talk, watch movies, listen to music, fix motorcycles, and play pool or foosball. The camaraderie among the group goes well beyond being a member of an organization. It is more like the N.C.I.B. promotes community by actually being a community in and of itself.
So no… most likely out of towners traveling south from Wichita to visit OSU wouldn’t give notice to Perry or even the fact that they are passing through Noble County. The N.C.I. B. will probably never make the national news on major network television or the front page of TIME or People magazines. They are even more unlikely to be known as any famous celebrity or collegiate team out of the great State of Oklahoma. But the impact that the “Giving Hearts” of the N.C.I.B. has had on the community of Perry and Noble County of Oklahoma, cannot be measured by that kind of publicity or fame. Rather it can be seen, felt and appreciated by the many people who have been on the receiving end of their efforts. And that means so much more than fame and recognition to both the N.C.I.B. and to those on whose many lives they have positively impacted and sure to impact in the years to come. May God Bless the giving hearts of the N.C.I.B. and all those they help and support!
NOTE: If you have or know of a worthy cause, charity or project hosted by a Biker organization and would like it to be considered as part of this feature, submit your information on our form page by “Clicking Here”. Chips Champs is about charity awareness and the positive impact Bikers have on a local and national level. To see charities already listed by State on Born to Roam Biker .com, go to our full listing page by “Clicking Here” now!
N.C.I.B meeting at the "DAWG HOUSE" to discuss the business of helping those in need.
Remember that famous TV show about a bar in Boston where “Everybody Knows Your Name”? Not a bad quality for a bar (for most people). However, Bradley’s may have just done one better. It boasts itself as a bar “Where judgements are left at the door”. And while it hasn’t been put to a clever jingle (yet), let’s face it, that has to be one of the best qualities for entering an establishment whether you a regular or newbie, a somebody or a nobody.
Bradley's Bar and Grill has been a favorite hangout in Marietta, Georgia for 20 years. Originally opened by Matt Bradley in 1998, within a relatively short period, Bradley's established itself as a local favorite restaurant and watering hole. In 2007, John Capone purchased Bradley's and has taken the restaurant to another level and into a more prominent establishment with his own savvy and skilled ownership style. Capone tripled business in just 10 years of his ownership building the business with friendly staff and attracting loyal customers from the greater Atlanta area. For the past 5 years, Bradley's has expanded its restaurant business to also include “Dogwood Catering”, a full service, upscale catering business covering a large portion of the Atlanta area to include weddings, festivals, concerts, parties and more!
But WHOA! Hold on there! Let’s take a closer look at what makes Bradley’s one worth mentioning and recommending to our readers in the first place. How about we start with the basics, like the atmosphere, environment, ambiance or whatever you want to call that vibe that makes you love to go to a place and enjoy a cold drink and good meal. You won’t find Bradley’s falling short in this area. How many Bars can you list
that have an area with a recliner and couch to relax on? Really? Yes really. Of course it also has an ample sized wrap around bar for conversing with the friendly bar tender, staff and patrons. And what about just having a little corner to meet someone and have a nice private conversation? Well the old “speakeasy” stile high back wood slat booths won’t disappoint either. Okay, okay...but what about darts, shuffleboard, TV sports, video entertainments and other diversions. Well let’s see, yes to all of the aforementioned, and it is even rumored that they have the “Twister” body game board painted on the floor! Really? Yes really! Yeah, well what about Karaoke? Yup, Thursday nights and another great reason to be at a place “where judgements are left at the door”!
Let’s move on to the next important area in a watering hole. What’s the “Bar Food” menu like? Typically you would be expecting a run of the meal menu like greasy burgers, soggy fries and stale pretzels and potato chips. But hey, no complaint as long as it is edible and the service is good. This is a bar right, not “Chez Panisse” or “La Grenouille”. Okay, well at first glance the one page menu seems to lack a wide variety of options; however, on closer inspection it just could be that this menu is laid out to be as efficient and organized as the kitchen and waiting staff that serves it. And while burgers and fries are on the menu, the selections are hardly what you would compare to the typical
greasy burger soggy fries bar scene. Not to mention the almost daily specials which could include Crab Legs, Coconut Shrimp Po'boy and Ribeye Filet.
Let’s take a look at the “Wings” listing for instance. Bradley’s boasts “Best Wings in East Cobb” and takes up a very small piece of real estate under the “Favorites” section when anywhere else with the word “Wings” built into the name it would take up as much space as your grandfather’s Buick in your one car garage. The listing shows just as many choices under the heading in an easy to read, select-your-order fashion. Two categories (Jumbo/No Bones), four selections of spice levels (Mild/Medium/Hot/Fire) and nine (yes 9) mouth watering flavors.
You will also notice that several of the other menu items can be prepared in different manners such as blackened, grilled or fried. This adds to giving the menu even more options per item while at the same time appealing to customers who have a preference to how their food is cooked. Oh, and by the way, Bradley’s also has more than a few menu selections available for “Late Night”. But don’t take our word for it. Give their menu a look yourself by “Clicking Here”.
Probably the best reason to give Bradley’s a shot at your hard earned dollar is by hearing what customers themselves have to say about the location, staff, service, food and atmosphere. Out of 38 Google reviews, Bradley’s received a score of 4.5
stars out of 5, and they get a 4.6 out of 5 from 74 Facebook votes. We encourage you to "Click Here for Google" and "Click Here for Facebook" and read a few for yourself.
Bradley’s also hits a little closer to us here at Born To Roam because they “Proudly welcome Bikers and Auto-Lovers”. They are even hosting their first annual Bradley’s Bar and Grill Summer Fest Car and Bike Show on July 16th! Something you’ll sure not want to miss (Click Here for tickets).
Finally, Bradley’s also has deep roots in the community supporting local school programs, East Cobb youth sports and non-profits like Opportunity Knocks for Youth which focuses on fundamental life skills for at-risk youth through mentor relationships.
So if you are looking to try a little something different and you are in or planning to be in the Greater Atlanta area, consider stopping by and having a cold one at Bradley’s. We think you just might stay for one or two more. No judgements either way.
Bradley's Bar and Grill of Marietta Georgia
"Where Judgements Are Left At The Door"
A "shot" of Bradley's from the bar. A great place to meet friends and make new ones.
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