ASU's 365 Community Union has partnered with pub founder Steve Goumas to bring the cherished watering hole back from the dead. Goumas says representatives from ASU and the Pat Tillman Foundation, which the pub partnered with on events like Pints for Pat, approached him "out of the blue" about the pop-up.
It was an idea that came to 365 Community Union Director Henry Terrazas after transforming the stadium's sun deck into an art exhibition last year. As a local and former staff member of the Pat Tillman Foundation, the pub had a special place in his heart, too, and he knew he wasn't alone in that sentiment.
Terrazas wondered about the pub returning.
“Wouldn’t it be awesome if, at least for a small moment in time, Rúla Búla came back to life in the stadium where so many Sun Devils are attached to [it]?" he says.
He connected with Goumas, who agreed. The retired publican says he still gets texts from former patrons who miss the pub and the community it created. Rúla Búla closed more than two years ago, pouring its final pints on June 27, 2021, after 20 years in business in a historic building on Mill Avenue. The bar was forced to shutter after Goumas and the building’s owner could not come to terms on the lease agreement.
Former patrons are excited about the pop-up.
“I’ve got a lot of emails from a lot of our customers and a lot from our previous staff and everybody’s psyched," he says. "They’ve been waiting."
How do I visit Rúla Búla?The pub, once a favorite spot for grabbing a pint before ASU football games, will pour drinks at the Coca-Cola Sun Deck at the stadium from Nov. 10 to 16.
There is no cover to visit the pop-up. But ASU is accepting reservations online, which are “highly encouraged,” according to the website.
“We’re trying to recreate the Rúla Búla experience," Goumas says. “When people walk in they’ll see things that were in Rúla Búla. They’ll see the signage, they’ll see original parts of the pub and the authenticity of it, which is important."
Goumas imported much of that decor from Ireland, and it has been packed away in storage "waiting for an opportunity somewhere," he says. Goumas also teases that guests may see him and other former staff behind the bar.
In addition to bringing back tactile elements of the space, the sound will be there, too. The pop-up pub will feature authentic Irish music and dancing and other live music.
The timing of the pop-up also holds special meaning. The anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps is Nov. 10, and Rúla Búla previously hosted a party just for Marines to celebrate them. It's a tradition that Goumas says he's looking forward to continuing on the opening night of the pop-up. Other events honoring veterans and members of the military will happen throughout the week, Terrazas says.
“We’re trying our best to try to incorporate all of our servicemen and women to enjoy Rúla Búla and those events that took place there," he says.
What's on the menu?Right now, Goumas is focused on working with the university's food and beverage team to recreate Rúla Búla's menu.
“Unless we can actually make the actual item so that when people taste it, it brings back a memory, it’s not worth doing," he says.
The food menu will feature three to five of the pub's dishes. Although the menu is still being finalized, Goumas says he's hoping to include Rúla Búla’s fish and chips, house wings and Reubens. Another possibility are Hot Bollix Spicy Potato Balls, which are mashed potatoes, Irish bacon, scallions and Irish cheddar coated in tempura and deep fried.
"The result is crunchy, creamy and oh so dreamy," Phoenix New Times declared in its 100 Favorite Dishes of 2011.
Drinks will include "perfect pints of Guinness," Goumas says, along with other Irish beers and a few signature cocktails. He hopes to include an Irish car bomb, using the pub's housemade Irish cream.
Does this mean Rúla Búla is coming back?For now, no.
The pub’s former home, built in 1888 and once serving as a saddlery, has new tenants. Devil's Hideaway and Idle Hands Enchanted Cocktail Bar are slated to open in the space in November.
At 70, Goumas says he is retired and not looking to start and run a pub again, but he won't close the door on Rúla Búla returning if he finds the right folks to carry the torch.
“I’m open to any potential opportunities," he says.
Rúla BúlaOpen Nov. 10 to 16
Reservations highly encouraged
Coca-Cola Sun Deck at Mountain America Stadium
500 E. Veterans Way, Tempe