The Sail Inn to Merge With Cactus Jack's in Ahwatukee

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We've got both good news and bad news this afternoon for fans of The Sail Inn. First, the bad news: The popular Tempe music venue is still leaving its longtime Farmer Avenue home at the end of the month.

And the good news? Instead of fading out of existence, it's now moving down to Ahwatukee and will live on...sorta.

An announcement on The Sail Inn's Facebook early this morning excitingly declared (in all caps fashion, no less) that the music venue will be "sailing over" to Ahwatukee sports bar and neighborhood joint Cactus Jack's in mid-July.


We reached out to Sail Inn owner Gina Lombardi this afternoon for more information about what the move entails and learned it's not strictly a case of The Sail Inn taking over another bar.

Lombardi says that she's purchasing part of Cactus Jack's and will become a partner with its current owner Art Perez as of July 1. Beyond that, however, it gets a little fuzzy.

According to Lombardi, an outdoor stage will be built at Cactus Jack's, which is located in a strip mall near 48th Street and Elliot Road, and many of the same indie bands that we're Sail Inn regulars will be featured.

"I'm buying into the place and adding onto it," she says.

However, it won't necessarily be The Sail Inn 2.0, either in name or otherwise. When asked, Lombardi isn't sure if it will be the case of a "bar inside a bar" or if even the place will become something like The Sail Inn at Cactus Jack's.

In all likelihood, she says, Cactus Jack's will keep its name.

"I really don't know at this point. The Sail Inn is sailing over to Cactus Jack's, so we're merging with them. I don't think its necessary to change the name to The Sail Inn," Lombardi says. "However you want to describe it, but its exactly what we said: Sail Inn is sailing over and the live music and party continues is pretty much what I've been telling everybody."

She also says that she may incorporate memorabilia Sail Inn memorabilia and signage at Cactus Jack's after the merger takes place. Maybe even a sailboat-shaped spotlight to boot.

When we originally reported on The Sail Inn's closure in March, Lombardi told New Times that she was possibly interested in either promoting shows at another bar or possible getting another place of her own. It turns out she's going to do both.

The situation is similar in some respects to what the bar owner did during the four-year period from 2006 to 2009 after she sold The Sail Inn property and it became the nightclub Trax. Lombardi became a partner at nearby Mill Avenue lounge The Loft and regularly booked many Sail Inn favorites of the rock, reggae, and jam band variety.

Both the bands and her crowd followed her over to the new spot, which is what she hopes will happen again. Lombardi says that some the bands and musicians that were Sail Inn regulars are happy to hear that she's found a new place.

"The bands have been begging me and begging me to do something and saying, 'You can't stop now,' so I just moved [things]. They said, 'We'll follow you everywhere you go Gina.' And I found a perfect spot and it's going to work out."

So when The Sail Inn's three-day "Farewell Festival" from June 27 to June 29 (which will feature more than three dozen bands performing) it may not be as sad as it originally would've been. Lombardi and other attendees will still be bidding goodbye to the venue's longtime home, which first opened in the early '90s.

"Well, everybody's going to definitely miss that outdoor stage and The Sail Inn that's been there all this time. Yeah, there's still going to be some sadness about leaving the location," Lombardi says. "But we're only going to be 10 minutes away and Cactus Jack's is very close, but with The Sail Inn, you can't repeat a bar like that, no matter what I do. But the feeling of the place and the music continues on in a really good spot with a lot of room to do everything we're doing here. And that's a good thing, but I'll never be able to repeat the Sail Inn."

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