The Ostrich, Chandler’s first craft cocktail bar, opened nearly a year ago, which made the bar's head honcho, Brandon Casey, a pretty happy man. His long-time goal, he says, has been to spend his 30th birthday at his own bar.
“And now I have two,” Casey says.
He turned 30 late last month — and just a matter of weeks ago he did something unexpected from someone so active in Phoenix’s craft cocktail scene. He signed the lease to a pre-existing dive bar called The Woodshed I, located in his hometown of Tempe. It’s been in business for 37 years. Randy Shed, the previous owner, still owns a second location called The Woodshed II, in Mesa.
Neighboring Kiwanis Park, on the the southwest corner of Baseline Road and Mill Avenue, the bar sits in a strip mall amid neighbors such as Bosa Donuts, a boot and shoe repair, and a smoke shop.
“It’s more of a neighborhood bar,” Casey says. “Poorly lit. Super local customers. Open early. Open late.”
The stucco building features signage in a well-worn shade of teal. It’s the kind of old-school place that still sponsors local softball teams, holds karaoke nights, and hosts comedy troupes. The windows, painted with signage for NFL football and charbroiled burgers, are lined from behind with wood paneling, which wraps the interior walls of the bar as well.
“I grew up going there after my dad’s softball games,” Casey says. “It’s what I’ve always wanted.”
Since purchasing the bar, Casey has been “giving the old girl some love.” And it’s been a family effort. Together, Casey and his family have been renovating the bathrooms, updating the pool table lighting, organizing, and dusting the place off. Casey says he plans to go over the wood with a darker shade of lacquer, update the beer selection across its 16 handles, and make the food menu more successful.
This includes reinvigorating the bar's wings, a staple in any good football-watching watering hole.
“Jake [Cutino] from Homeboy’s [Hot Sauces] said he’d teach me,” Casey says.
Casey also plans to sell cocktail ingredients — spirits, liqueurs, and mixers — in addition to, eventually, offering cocktails on draft or even bottled cocktails. Frozen coffee cocktails served out of a slushy machine, or something along those lines, are equally possible future additions to The Woodshed I menu.