Opening/Closing

Pulp Fiction-Themed Bar Is Coming to Gilbert in March — Here's What We Know

Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction.
Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction. Moviestore Collection Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo
Cue up Dick Dale’s “Misirlou” and start getting into character, because there’s a Pulp Fiction-themed bar coming to the Valley next month — and, yes, it will serve both tasty beverages and Royales With Cheese.

Local restaurateur Frank Vairo, the owner of Arcadia spot The Bar, is opening a second location of the neighborhood watering hole in downtown Gilbert sometime in March. Like the original, which features subtle homages to The Big Lebowski, the spinoff location will pay tribute to another cult classic flick, specifically Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 genre-bending crime flick.

Unlike The Bar in Arcadia, Vairo tells Phoenix New Times, the Gilbert version won’t be as subtle when it comes to referencing its chosen flick.

"At the Arcadia location we have some artwork and other subtle details; you walk in and you wouldn’t know it's a Big Lebowski-themed bar,” he says. “But with this one, you're going to be like, ‘Oh wow, this is definitely all about Pulp Fiction.' There are going to be much more in-your-face references and designs playing off the movie.”

So does that mean the 3,200-square-foot establishment, which is located on Gilbert Road just north of Vaughn Avenue, will be a mockup of Jack Rabbit Slim's, Big Kahuna Burger or any of the other restaurants and bars seen or mentioned in the film?

Probably not, Vairo says, which is one of the few details about the Pulp Fiction references he’s open to talking about. Like mob wife Mia Wallace and hitman Vincent Vega dealing with an accidental heroin overdose, Vairo is adopting a “mum’s the word” policy regarding specifics of The Bar’s look.

“I don't want to give away too much since I want to keep it a surprise for now, but there will be a lot of references and different design features playing off the movie and its scenes, like a beautiful mural,” Vairo says. “We're building the design and décor from the ground up.” Vairo, who also owns Arcadia spots Nook Kitchen and Dilly Dally Lounge, says The Bar’s Gilbert location will have many upscale bar hallmarks.

A large roller door will lead to an outdoor patio and will be opened during nicer days to allow for an indoor/outdoor feel. A DJ booth and sound system will help create a “clubby atmosphere” on weekends (though there’s no word if they’ll spin tunes from Pulp Fiction’s now-iconic soundtrack).

References to Pulp Fiction will also extend to the menu, which is being created by Chef Arturo Garino of Nook Kitchen, including having themed items available like a Royale with Cheese hamburger.

Vairo says they’ll also have milkshakes similar to the one served to Mia Wallace at Jack Rabbit Slim’s, although The Bar's will be of the boozy variety. He also admits the shakes run patrons more than five bucks each.

“It was called the ‘Five-Dollar Milkshake’ in the film, but I don’t think you can get away with charging that little these days,” he says. “We discussed selling it for only $5, but it would only be 2 ounces and that wouldn’t be feasible.”

Theme bars based on Tarantino’s career and his various films have started becoming a thing in recent years. In 2017, a Cincinnati bar called The Video Archive (which featured a mockup of a VHS rental place hiding a speakeasy) opened and there's also a Kill Bill-themed spot in Brisbane, Australia, called Kiddo.

Vairo says the idea for doing a Pulp Fiction theme came from their staff and social media.

“We posted something on our [Facebook] about what movies people like, and this is what came up,” he says. “It's a fantastic movie with this almost cult-like following and we decided there are so many fun things we can do with the concept. Again, I’d say more, but you’ll just have to see it for yourself.”
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.