Grace Perry has been going full-tilt boogie as of late. Over the last couple of weeks, she’s been busy burning the candle at both ends getting her new downtown Phoenix watering hole, Gracie’s Tax Bar, ready for its grand opening.
And, if you can pardon the pun, it’s been something of a taxing experience for the 32-year-old Valley resident, both emotionally and physically. Sleep, for instance, has been something of a luxury.
“Yeah, it’s been no sleep or very little sleep lately,” Perry says.
Such sacrifices have been worth it, however, since they've allowed her to get the place open.
Gracie’s Tax Bar made its debut with a soft opening on Friday, July 7, followed by its official opening night on Saturday, July 8.
And its owner couldn’t be happier.
“It’s a good thing to finally have it open,” Perry says.
After all, it’s the culmination of a journey that she’s been on for the last five years or so.
“I’ve been building up to this for a long time now,” she says.
After spending seven years as the lead singer for local metal band Landmine Marathon, Perry left the band in 2012 to pursue other endeavors. She’d earned a degree in public policy and management during that time, but it hadn’t led anywhere.
Eventually, she wound up working in the restaurant industry, including stints with local company Upward Projects.
“I got my degree and I never used it and I was touring all over the place. And then I decided to settle in and stop touring and maybe start some type of career,” Perry says. “I had been working in restaurants because it's great for musicians to do that. And I really loved the business a lot more than I thought and I evolved and went up the ranks.”
Perry later served as the food and beverage manager at Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar. She dreamed of owning and operating her own spot.
And according to Perry, she wanted it to be a laid-back neighborhood spot with a come-as-you-are vibe similar to the sort of places where she liked to drink.
“I just wanted to have a bar that would be like my favorite bars,” Perry says.
And that’s exactly what she got.
Gracie’s Tax Bar, which is located along Seventh Avenue just south of McKinley Street, offers the look and feel of a neighborhood dive, right down to the pressboard walls, mismatched seating, and hot nuts machine.
Its cozy interior, which features a 50-person capacity, is also bathed in red light, giving it a bit of a clandestine vibe. The bar itself takes up a good chunk of the interior space and is surrounded by a few booths and several tables.
Outside, you can find Gracie’s expansive patio, which featured a pair of pass-through windows to get drinks and food, as well as a bunch of kitschy outdoor furniture.
The ceiling is lined with perforated acoustic tiles and a few fluorescent lighting fixtures, both of which are nods to the building’s previous use as a tax preparation office.
Meanwhile, the walls are decorated with an eclectic collection of art work that includes some thrift store paintings, a taxidermied javelina head, and a collection of ink sketches by a fashion designer.
In essence, Gracie’s is a lot like what your favorite dive bar or neighborhood joint was like back when it first opened.
The décor of Gracie’s Tax Bar was created by Patch & Clark Design, the Tucson-based company that was behind the look of Valley Bar.
“They’re all about bringing things up to date and repurposing things ... and not necessarily about tearing down the old to build up the new, which I really love,” Perry says. “Like I said, I just wanted it to be a bar that would be my favorite bar. And I feel like they really created that.”
Perry’s influences and interests can be found throughout Gracie’s Tax Bar. For instance, she’s a self-avowed “huge dork” who digs playing Dungeons & Dragons and other geeky distractions. As such, there’s a bookcase in one corner featuring several board and tabletop games available for play.
“I want to try and stock those shelves full of games. Make it a community space for people to come here, play some games, have some drinks, and just have a good time,” Perry says. “I also want people to bring in their own board games to share.”
Meanwhile, there’s an honest-to-goodness jukebox along the north wall, which is stocked with CDs from some of Perry’s favorite bands, including Landmine Marathon (natch).
“I curated everything in the jukebox. It's still an ongoing process; we'll change out what doesn't play,” she says. “I even went outside of my own preferences, so there's like some things that other people love.”
That includes such artists and bands as My Bloody Valentine, Curtis Mayfield, The Descendants, Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, and MC5.
“It’s actually a really good deal since you get 20 plays for five bucks,” she says. “I'm hoping that people utilize it while they're here.”
We're pretty sure they will, Grace. Ditto for the old-school arcade shooter Revolution-X, which features the members of Aerosmith battling a Big Brother-like government that wants to destroy rock ‘n’ roll.
“I thought it was a funny game because they shoot [CDs],” Perry says. “I was dying laughing when I saw that,”
And if you aren’t into that particular arcade game, Perry says they’ll likely bring in another old-school machine at some point in the future.
“I think its going to be the kind of thing that we switch it out from time to time with something else new and interesting,” she says.
Perry considers Gracie’s Tax Bar a work in progress that will evolve over time. Eventually, she hopes to have musicians perform out on the patio or specific nights devoted to games.
And while people have been checking out Gracie’s since its opening, particularly the downtown artist and scenester crowds, she eager for folks of every background to partake in the place.
“I want this to be a neighborhood bar that the neighborhood slowly but surely adopts as its own,” she says.
And here's a look at what else they'll encounter at Gracie's Tax Bar.
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