The Fire Inside
Justin Gurian is one of Old Town's biggest movers and shakers. Just ask him, and he'll be the first to tell you so. As the old saying goes, it ain't bragging if it's true, and the 31-year-old's swagger is well earned.
He's got such Scottsdale bigwigs as Nik Richie and Chad Landau on speed dial, co-owns The Firehouse (arguably one of Old Town's biggest spots), and books some of the best DJ talent in the Valley.
Gurian's worked at more than two dozen nightspots in Scottsdale in some capacity over the past decade, earning his pay in a variety of roles. He bartended at bygone joints like Furio and the Crown Room, promoted and hosted events at American Junkie and Pussycat Lounge, and even spun a DJ set now and again.
"Working all over town gave me insight on many different ways to do things," he says. "I also had to quickly adapt to a different and new system for each place, so I was always on my toes."
His schizophenic résumé stems from a "serious case of A.D.D.," he jokes.
"I get really tired doing the same things and like finding something different to do, which is better than being trapped sitting in an office doing the same fucking paperwork every day," he says.
Last year, Gurian helped launch The Firehouse, the popular sports bar, danceteria, and after-hours spot that's typically packed until 4:30 a.m. every weekend. It's been a change of pace going from bartender to proprietor, he says.
"Owning and operating a bar is a 24-7 job," he says. "I sleep with my phone in my hand and that is no joke." — Benjamin Leatherman
4312 N. Brown Ave., 480-265-6989
Saddlebag Trail's gotten a few new haute hotspots in the last year, including this "super-macho" taquería and tavern blending urban street style with an upscale allure and amenities. Hispanic artwork and artifacts — including Guadalupe statues, Virgin Mary candles, and a lowrider bikes — populate the place while self-serve beer taps at every table allow immediate imbibing.
El Hefe, 4425 N. Saddlebag Trail, 480-945-6200, www.elhefetacos.com.
Trends tend to ebb and flow in Old Town, but this nightlife mainstay has stuck around for more than decade. It's functioned as two clubs in one ever since its debut in 1998, offering patrons twice the vice under one roof. Axis typically showcases electronica tracks and Top 40 music videos, while the Radius portion hosts appearances by chart-topping DJs and recording artists.
7340 E. Indian Plaza, 480-970-1112, www.axis-radius.com.
Boasting a staggering selection of VIP rooms, four lounges, two dance floors, a primo sound system, and shelf libations than one could drink in a lifetime, Myst remains one of Old Town's more popular nighttime destinations. On the right night, you might even spot a celebrity athlete or two, as it's also a favorite of local pro jocks. Just don't try to get their picture.
7340 E. Shoeman Lane, 480-970-5000, mystaz.com
Cream Stereo Lounge
It's helpful to know someone in the employ of Cream Stereo Lounge, as the small club tends to fill up quickly on weekends. It shouldn't come as a surprise, given its wealth of guest DJs and resident tuntablist talent, as well as grown-up activities like bathtub shows, burlesque acts, and whipped-cream wrestling.
4252 N. Drinkwater Ave., 602-222-9922, www.creamstereolounge.com.
The crown jewel of Les and Diane Corieri's local nightlife empire celebrates avarice and monetary excess in grand fashion. The couple spent a pretty penny to create an affluent oasis where clubgoers enjoy high-end cocktails and cuisine created by chef Johnny Chu. High-tech touches, like a crystal and LED cube hanging over the bar and illuminated rafters, light up both the dance floor and heist-inspired artwork decorating the place.
7373 E. Camelback Rd., 480-947-6468, www.themintaz.com.
Insomniacs and the still-inebriated are drawn to Aron Mezo's all-night pleasure palace for its after-hours thrills, costume parties, and all the eye candy. Last call isn't an issue here (as there's no liquor license) allowing the dancing action, hookah-smoking, poker-playing, and people-watching to continue until 4 a.m. three nights a week.
4282 N. Drinkwater Blvd., 480-264-8300, www.afterlifescottsdale.com.
Popular among ultra-stylish and well-heeled VIP types, Wild Knight provides the bottle-service crowd with ingenious perks (such as private drawers underneath seating, for one's valuables), exquisite cocktails, and a sanctuary from the masses. Its décor is a pastiche of Old World and Old Town (blending chain mail, silk canopies, and tufted leatherette) while its doormen outside keep out the riff-raff — and the cameras.
4405 N. Saddlebag Trail, 480-213-9500, www.wildknightclub.com.
The Roxy Lounge
This spin-off of Hollywood's infamous Roxy Theatre concert venue lives up to its rock 'n' roll pedigree by offering thrice-weekly live shows by rip-roaring bands on its large (for a nightclub, at any rate) stage. Photos of such famous rockers as Ozzy and Lemmy Kilmeister dot the walls, gig posters decorate the bathrooms, and heavy metal anthems blare from the DJ booth.
7443 E. 6th Ave., 480-970-1222, www.roxyaz.com
Gus' New York Pizza Lounge
Greasy slices of Brooklyn-style round pie are served 24-7 to clubgoers at this posh pizzeria, helping to soak up all the excess alcohol in their system. Its lounge-like dining room also offers cozy nooks, plush seating, and nonstop dance music. Long lines through the door are the norm around 2 a.m., often resulting in an intriguing social scene on the sidewalk.
7333 E. Shoeman Lane, 480-423-5555, www.gusnypizzalounge.com.
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