Concertgoers of legal drinking age might want to raise a toast to The Nile Theater the next time they're at the downtown Mesa venue, since it achieved a major milestone recently.
Nile Theater's proprietors announced on Wednesday that the concert venue has obtained a liquor license and will begin serving both beer and booze later this month.
A press release sent out by the Mantooth Group, the local concert promoter that runs the Nile, said that adult beverages will be available at the venue starting on July 21, the same night as a gig by punk band The Adolescents. They'll even be giving out commemorative koozies (which cutely state, "The Nile Theater: Now with 100% more beer") at the show.
A beer bar has been installed in the Nile's main room and will serve a variety of domestics, crafts, and microbrews (including such choices as Founders All Day IPA, Ska Brewing's Modus Hoperandi, Mudshark Scorpion Amber Ale, and local choices from Four Peaks Brewing) for $3 to $7 each. Meanwhile, full liquor service will be available in LoFi, the attached coffee bar and lounge.
According to Mantooth Group's owner Michelle Donovan, the Nile's all-ages basement venue, The Underground, will remain dry and continue to host shows open to the 18-and-under crowd for the time being.
“[We] just don't want to get into serving alcohol down there,” Donovan told New Times via e-mail. “Maybe sometime in the future, but not now.”
Additionally, she says that curfew will be at midnight for most shows. The venue will remain all ages but the bars will be available to those with valid I.D.
Its a definite change for the Nile, which has been liquor-free since it was reopened by the Mantooth Group in 2010, and Donovan says its being done without trying to change the culture and spirit of the venue.
"The bar is not something we approached lightly. We talked and talked about it and at the end of the day we felt it was in the best interest of the theater and downtown Mesa,” she said. “We have made it through [five-and-a-half] years of wonderful shows that have been supported by wonderful patrons. We do not want to alienate them and that is why we are starting small and easing into it.”
The addition of beer and booze to the Nile — predominantly a home for punk, hard rock, pop-punk, and hardcore shows — is certainly good news for anyone eager to drink during concerts at the venue. (Ditto for the fact that the light rail service to downtown Mesa starts next month.) It's also something of a triumph for the Mantooth Group, who have spent the last few years trying to obtain a liquor license for the Nile.
And from what we understand, it hasn't exactly been an easy pursuit, especially given the troubled history of the venue way back in the late '90s and early 2000s during the Nile's original run as a concert spot. In those days, when it was run by a different proprietor, the Nile was constantly at odds with the City of Mesa, local police officials, and even the Maricopa Country Attorney over a rash of nuisance concerns and criminal activities at the venue, all of which contributed to its closing in 2002.
Said issues, however, are firmly in the past since the Mantooth Group reopened the Nile, but ultimately resurfaced a couple of months ago during the approval process for its liquor license.
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At a meeting of the Mesa City Council in May, where Donovan and her attorney were seeking municipal approval for the liquor license, Mayor John Giles and other city officials discussed the venue's troubled history. Unlike the Nile's previous proprietors, however, Mantooth has both a squeaky clean record running the venue and good relations with both the city and neighboring businesses. As a result, council members later unanimously approved the venue's liquor license application.
It helped clear the way for y'all to crack open cold one or throw a few shots while rocking out at the Nile anytime after July 21. Just don't miss your light rail train home after the show.