When Hollywood Alley debuted in 1988, bands didn't exactly beat a path to its door.
Back in those days, the epicenter of the local music scene was undoubtedly Mill Avenue and such venues as Long Wong's and Chuy's, and not some pissant bar and grill off the beaten path in Mesa. In fact, owner Ross Wincek didn't start booking bands until months after he opened.
More than 20 years later, it's hard imagining a Valley without Hollywood Alley, as it's become a mainstay of the music scene while other establishments have come and gone. It's no surprise, considering the place has all the ingredients that make any rock club great: dim lighting, kitschy décor, black leather booths, and an ample stage that's hosted shows almost every night of the week for the past two decades.
Plenty of nationally known artists have performed at the Alley, running the gamut from spoken word/art rock chanteuse Lydia Lunch to psychedelic indie rock band The Apples in Stereo. (Public Enemy even stopped by for an impromptu show one evening in 2007 after getting booted from the Marquee Theatre). More importantly, however, the joint has served as a launching pad and stomping ground for some of the biggest bands in Valley history.
The old-school punkers of both the Sun City Girls and Beats the Hell Out of Me were regulars way back when, as were such members of the '90s Mill Avenue movement as The Refreshments, Gin Blossoms, and Dead Hot Workshop. Local legends like Jimmy Eat World and Authority Zero used to rattle the roof constantly before graduating to more mainstream concert halls. The modern-day tastemakers of Back Ted N-Ted, What Laura Says, and The Love Me Nots also regularly include the Alley in their gig schedules.
In addition to its myriad musical talent, another draw has been the extended family atmosphere provided by the three generations of the Wincek clan working behind the scene. Famished patrons and starving rockers alike have feasted on the delicious homemade recipes of Ross' grandmother Rachel and his late mother, Lucy, from the kitchen. Meanwhile, 67-year-old paterfamilias Roger helps make the place spotless after the last drunk has ambled out the front door.
Thanks to the Winceks' untiring dedication, you can undoubtedly look forward to another 20 years of hanging out at the Alley.