Sunbar, A New Music Venue and Nightspot, Opens This Month in Tempe

The exterior of Sunbar in downtown Tempe.
Sunbar's Facebook page
The exterior of Sunbar in downtown Tempe.
The folks behind Shady Park, C.A.S.A., and Charlie Trumbull’s are adding to their collection of bars and nightspots in downtown Tempe. Later this month, they’ll open Sunbar, a combination music venue, beer joint, organic grill, and “party garden” in the heart of the city’s nightlife district.

The two-story establishment, which is located on Fifth Street just west of Mill Avenue, will feature an upstairs event space for live performances with an enormous outdoor patio, multiple bars, and other amenities downstairs.

Ryan Cornelius, the marketing and creative director for Sunbar and Shady Park, says that the new venture will be aimed at fans of live music and EDM, as well as Arizona State University students or anyone else who comes to Mill Avenue to drink or celebrate. It’s set to open at the end of September and will offer events nightly starting the following month.

“It's looking like early October as when things will probably get going into a seven-day-a-week motion,” Cornelius says.

Sunbar's location is a large multilevel building that formerly housed an office space upstairs and an old Trails head shop downstairs.

“It's quite spacious. Just the downstairs alone area is enormous,” Cornelius says.

The upstairs area is roomy, too. It features a top-shelf sound system, LED wall, and a large stage for live performances.

It won’t be long until Sunbar hosts its first gig. Local band Japhy’s Descent is holding an album release party there on Friday, September 27. (Dry River Yacht Club, Dr. Delicious, The Hourglass Cats, Future Exes, The Sugar Thieves, and others are also on the bill.)

Local EDM promoter Relentless Beats has booked some upcoming shows at Sunbar, including a gig by house music artist Hot Since 82 on Sunday, October 13, and tech-house DJ Cristoph on Friday, October 25.

“We're pretty much open to any genre or any type of event in the upstairs area,” Cornelius says. “But at the moment, we're not trying to label it in any specific music or event direction. It's going to be kind of a multipurpose room for everything from concerts to receptions or corporate events.”

Cornelius says that Sunbar’s performance and event space will be different from the one found at Shady Park, which hosts bands and DJs on its outdoor patio space and “barpark” in the back.

“Shady [Park] has identified itself as somewhere for house, techno, bass music, and the occasional band. But there’s a relatively small-sized stage there, so we're very excited to have more room for some five-, six-, seven-, eight-piece [bands] at Sunbar that we couldn't have done before,” Cornelius says. “So it opens things up for genres like jam bands, rock bands, Latin, country, or even hip-hop every once in a while.”

Meanwhile, the downstairs area at Sunbar will offer a large rectangular-shaped outdoor bar in the middle of Sunbar’s “party garden.”

“It’s a different take on the beer garden [concept],” Cornelius says. “There's a lot of plant life back there, some existing palm trees plus some succulents as well. It's going to be this cool place to hang out.”

Sunbar will also differ in some respects from other downtown Tempe bars and clubs. Its downstairs area, for instance, will include a beer hall with 45 draft brews on tap (as well as a large selection of cans and bottles), an organic kitchen featuring healthier dining selections (including options for vegans and vegetarians), a small convenience store, patio games, and more.

Cornelius says Sunbar will feature a few other amenities and attractions that are currently under wraps at the moment.

"I don't want to give away any more about that right now,” Cornelius says, “But it's going to be cool.”

Sunbar. 24 West Fifth Street, Tempe; Opens in late September.