Local Wire

Nile Theater's Capacity Is Now 1000, and There's an Attached Vegan Cafe/Bar

You can never have too many urinals, right? That probably wasn’t the logic that went into some of the new renovations at Mesa music and event venue the Nile Theater, but the addition of bathrooms, urinals, and a small room in the men’s room area has allowed the venue’s overall capacity to move up to the 1,000 mark between its main stage and basement zones.

The Nile’s owner since 2010, Michelle Donovan, has been making changes on a consistent basis since she bought the business but said that those efforts have ramped up this past year. The new changes come on the heels of the once-dry venue getting a liquor license last year. 

“It was time to put our big boy pants on and really step it up,” she says. “We really wanted to highlight the space more and showcase some of the features of this place that was built in 1924, like the 30-foot-high ceilings and the exposed beams.”

Her commitment to broadening the Nile’s audience and cementing the place as a go-to entertainment destination includes more than physical revamping. She has been working to “give it an overall re-branding and make it more of an adult venue” by widening the programming roster — taking it beyond the punk, metal, and rap shows it’s known for — by bringing more and different acts playing those styles, and trying out new genres, too, like country music. Increasing non-music related events is part of the plan, too. Think film festivals, literary events, and diverse arts and culture happenings.

Last year’s acquisition of a liquor license also helps adult-up the Nile, along with the other changes. In the building’s storefront portion is Volstead Public House, where along with coffee, tea, and food items, a cocktail menu is available. Event attendees can bring those drinks throughout the entire facility. There’s a bar inside the main stage room that offers craft beer, and a bar is getting added to the basement space in the near future. Redoing the sound system is also on the slate.

In this flurry of sprucing up the joint, change is not only occurring within. The Nile’s sign was recently painted by Phoenix-based artist Robert Gentile, who pays tribute to the theater’s original sign with his colorful version.

Donovan loves what downtown Mesa has to offer and is excited about the changes. She is tired of people saying there’s nothing to do in the area.

“There are so many great businesses, young entrepreneurs moving in all the time, and now ASU is going to have a presence here,” she says. “Mesa is going to continue to become a bigger destination.”

Looks like she’ll be ready for it.

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Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young