By Amy Silverman
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By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
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By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Here's mud in your eye.
Last week, Bob Pavlovic, owner of the imperiled Chez Nous, informed his staff the landmark cocktail lounge will permanently cut off customers at 1 in the morning on Sunday, September 23.
The announcement followed one of the most heartfelt civic battles in recent memory. Since last spring, when it was learned the Osco drug chain had purchased the property ("Sloshed Cause," Dewey Webb, March 22), fans of the swanky Kennedy-era watering hole have battled plans to raze the club. Staffers distributed "Save the Chez" buttons, circulated petitions and took their cause to the press. In an unusual move -- citizens historically fight to keep bars out of their neighborhoods -- residents argued that the tiny club lent more character to their neighborhood than any discount pharmacy could. Originally a hangout for up-and-coming junior executives on the Central Corridor, Chez Nous had in recent years become a neighborhood bar for the entire city and was especially popular with martini-guzzling scenesters who appreciated its glitzy '60s decor.
The City of Phoenix eventually joined the pro-Chez Nous movement, recommending that Osco alter its plans and build around the 38-year-old club. But Osco ultimately ignored that suggestion; the company will take possession of the property when Pavlovic's lease expires on September 30. It is unknown exactly when the glitter-flecked cinderblock building will be demolished.
Forget about sifting through the rubble in search of souvenirs. New Times has learned that Pavlovic has told customers he recently sold the entire contents of the club -- tuck 'n' roll booths, Formica bar, volcanic waterfall, even the name "Chez Nous" -- to an unidentified group of investors who hope to reopen at another location.
Although Pavlovic declines to comment on the deal, Arizona Liquor Control Board records indicate the club's liquor license doesn't appear to be part of the package.
In the meantime, Chez Nous staffers are gearing up for a two-day blowout to be held the weekend of September 15-16. Anticipating overflow crowds, Pavlovic has already applied for permits that will allow live bands to perform in his parking lot throughout the evening.
Asked what she plans to do when the club closes, one of the club's young female mixologists winces. "I don't even want to think about it," she answers. " I'm in denial -- deep denial. I think we all are."