Red Owl Announces Full-Time Music Venue Conversion

Red Owl's "sports bar" tag is going, going, gone. (Or some other sports cliche. Whatever. We cover music.)

While the Tempe bar has always played host to live music, Red Owl officially announced its conversion from a day-drinking spot and restaurant to a full-time purveyor of live music. With booze. Don't worry, they're keeping the booze. Phew.

They're also opening their doors to the 21-and-under crowd, thanks to a reconfigured entrance that keeps young 'uns away from the bar.

As the smaller counterpart to next door's 500-capacity Club Red, Red Owl fills up at a more intimate 200, which owner Kim Commons hopes will make the venue attractive to local artists and small- to mid-sized hip-hop, alternative, and rock acts. The upgraded PA system and fancy new lighting rig help, too. A demolished $70,000 commercial kitchen made room for an expanded, lifted stage, but also took food out of the equation permanently.

Pleasing bar and grill customers during the day and music fans at night became a complicated game of balancing schedules, Commons says, which forced him choose between the two. Kicking jukebox-loving day-drinkers out before shows or forcing them to pay cover doesn't bode well for customer relations.

"All of that is time you're not spending booking," Commons says.

Though the upgrades were officially finished about a month ago, Red Owl officially announced its completion today. And the venue is well on its way to becoming a Phoenix mainstay, Commons says.

"The underground hip-hop scene has been the first to catch on to what Red Owl has converted to," Commons says, but hopes other artists and patrons will begin to take notice.

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