Scottsdale's Martini Ranch to Close Next Weekend

Martini Ranch (1994-2013)
Martini Ranch (1994-2013)
Voice Places

Word has broke of a major shakeup at Scottsdale's Martini Ranch that will ultimately result in the end of the longtime Old Town music venue and dance joint. The owners of the long-running nightspot announced today that it will close next weekend before being sold to new proprietors who will reconcept the place.

According to an official statement from Martini Ranch sent out earlier today, the club will shut its doors on Sunday, October 13, after a two-night blowout and sendoff. While no specific reason for the closure was cited in the press release, Martini Ranch's general manager Michael Stravers says it was because of a combination of financial reasons and increased competition from newer and bigger nightspots in Scottsdale's ever-changing entertainment district.

"There's a lot of new investment that's gone on in Scottsdale. The landscape is really competitive and you just have to adapt with the changes in nightlife. We needed to make a change and, after 19 years here, we felt like Martini Ranch has run its course," he says. "This town seems to demand earlier entertainment. People are going out during the day more often now and you have to have your business suit what the trends are in your area. And I think by continuing to operate as we were, we weren't set up to take advantage of the trends in the entertainment scene."

However, Stravers states that closing of Martini Ranch and the sale of the property to new owners are not related to the pair of stabbings, including one in January that resulted in the death of former ASU football player Tyrice Thompson (who worked at the club as a bouncer and security guard).

"[The sale] is something we had talked about probably for a long time. We kind of recognized as it was operating, there wasn't really enough business in the short amount of hours we could potentially be open to sustain the place anymore," he says. "We've been in negotiations with different groups for over a year now and it kind of came to fruition now completely exclusive of those two events that happened. As much as everybody would like to draw the connection, the sale doesn't have anything to do with it."

Stravers says that Square One Concepts, the Scottsdale company that owned and operated Martini Ranch for the past several years, will sell the sprawling property - which includes a large main room and the upstairs Shaker Lounge -- to an unnamed investor group that will renovate things and reopen as a new nightlife concept early next year.  

Shiny Toy Guns performs at Martini Ranch in 2008.
Shiny Toy Guns performs at Martini Ranch in 2008.
Jonathan McNamara

Martini Ranch's closure is just the latest in a series of shutterings of longtime local music venues that have taken place in 2013, including the nearby Hollywood Alley in Mesa and Axis/Radius in Scottsdale. Like both joints, Martini Ranch has a lengthy history of hosting memorable concerts and big performances.

After opening in 1994 as a bar and grill, Stravers says Martini Ranch became famous for featuring a slew of notable cover bands - including acts like the disco-slinging Boogie Knights, alt-rock tribute group The Chadwicks, and (most recently) the hard rockers of Metalhead.

"For years and years, Martini Ranch was a place where you could go see really good cover acts. And kind of over the years we got into doing more local music and small regional and national shows and focusing more on the live music acts," Stavers says. "This place has been a mainstay in Scottsdale for a long time, particularly when it came to live music."

That's putting it mildly. For the better part of two decades, Martini Ranch's main room was a go-to mid-sized venue for hosting a "who's who" of not only local bands but a enormous collect of nationally known musicians of the up-and-coming and veteran variety. (Adele, for instance, played the place in 2009, years before "Rolling in the Deep" became an overplayed radio hit.)

The press release announcing its closure give an enviable rundown of some notable names from recent eras of rock, pop and hip-hop that have performed at Martini Ranch, including Avril Lavigne, Bruno Mars, LMFAO, Kings of Leon, Grace Potter, Garbage, Cypress Hill, and 30 Seconds to Mars.

"Just all these great up-and-coming acts and music legends in an intimate setting," Stavers says. "We tended to get a lot of people on their way up."

Meanwhile, the upstairs Shaker Room club, which opened in 2000, was a dance destination for countless party monsters over the past 13 years.

DJ Slippe, who has put on the 18-and-over Twist Thursdays party in the Shaker Room since July, says that Martini Ranch always had "a little more laid back than the typical Scottsdale vibe."

"Sundays were always the go to spot in Shaker Room," he says. "And I've seen some [big] bands there. It was a legendary place for me."

Fittingly, Martini Ranch's two-night "Curtain Call" event on Saturday, October 12, and Sunday, October 13, that will serve as the club's swan song will be a mix of performances by live bands and selectors, including such current and formers regulars as The Chadwicks, Metalhead, DJ Randy, and DJ Spryte.

More info on the event can be found on the Martini Ranch website.

UPDATE: Local concert promoter "Psyko" Steve Chilton informed us that the Saves the Day show he's putting on at Martini Ranch on Friday, October 11, will still be happening. More details about the show can be found via our online concert calendar.

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