Raising The Bar: Scottsdale Landmark AZ/88 Is Closed For A Makeover

Disco today, gone tomorrow. Art installations change every four months at AZ/88.
Disco today, gone tomorrow. Art installations change every four months at AZ/88. Allison Young
If you’ve been to the heart of Old Town Scottsdale lately, you’re undoubtedly aware of the major construction going on at the east end of Main Street. It’s a massive project to redesign the area known as Scottsdale Civic Center. Renderings show upscale urban landscaping reminiscent of areas such as Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter. It’s gonna be fancy.

But navigating around this fenced-off development that is now only dirt and digging equipment, is quite inconvenient, especially for confused visitors who ask, “Where is AZ/88?”

The good news is that this popular destination is currently undergoing a renovation of its own.

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Construction is underway at AZ/88.
Mr. P-Body
Construction detours aside, AZ/88 is often hard to find for first-time visitors. For the uninitiated, AZ/88 is a contemporary bar with attractive glass architecture, an inviting patio, and unusual modern art installations that rotate throughout the year. The name is a simple reference to Arizona and the year 1988 in which it first opened.

Its patrons love the large overflowing martinis, the simple and consistent bar food menu, and unique bathroom mirrors. In short, it’s an Arizona staple for locals and visitors alike with a unique vibe enjoyed by all, age 21 or 71.

With all the business, this remodel is surely not any kind of Bar Rescue. Still, AZ/88’s customers can get ready for a new look with the reveal slated for Tuesday, September 27.

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AZ/88 will soon have an entirely new bar and new tiles throughout the indoor space and patio.
Mr. P-Body
It will have an entirely new bar which has always been the focal point for guests as well as the business. They sell a great deal of food like any popular restaurant, but the official name and logo is “AZ/88 The Bar.”

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The Pornstar Martini at AZ/88 comes with a shot of Champagne.
Tirion Morris
As part of the $600,000 plan, the cocktail bar was completely ripped out for a rebuild. It will soon become bigger, faster, and brighter. Dale Jodoin has served as general manager and now president within the past 32 years.

“We figured that now is a good time to remodel with the Civic Center preparing to upgrade our surroundings with a lot of concerts and festivals planned," Jodoin says. "For our bar we wanted to make it larger to increase capacity and more functional for faster drink service.”

Enter Don Carstens, a prolific commercial designer known for his work on five Mastro’s restaurants including the City Hall location and at least 40 other establishments.

“The back bar for the bottles will have updated lighting and the stainless steel aesthetic will be replaced with a sort of white quartz for a cleaner look," Carstens says. "The bar area will also have four high top tables as well as a couple of long community tables that can seat eight or 10 people. With marble stylings and waterfall edges, they’ll compliment AZ/88’s contemporary, open, and white design.”

He should know. The designer has been a regular patron of AZ/88 since the beginning. He describes the venue as being “half a fishbowl” as it has two sides of all glass from floor to ceiling. Patrons awaiting entry on the South side walkway, which Jodoin notes will also be getting an upgrade, can already see who’s inside.

“The place has always been all about people watching and seeing who’s there,” Carstens says of the bar’s vibe. This observation might add to the design decision to remove the entrance’s small foyer glass wall and replace it with a low wall. This will allow patrons waiting for seating to feel more a part of the energy, especially on weekends.

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Construction is underway at AZ/88.
Mr. P-Body
“The entire patio and interior is having all the Italian floor tiles replaced with new ones and there will be new chairs and barstools,” Carstens says. “We’re also replacing the bathroom sinks as well with Bradley brand innovative designs.”

If a lot of this cosmetic work sounds like they’re only “doin’ it for the Gram,” Jodoin clarifies, “Another reason for this renovation is to address some 30 years of wear and tear. So, when all the work is done and we reopen, we don’t want customers expecting the place to be practically unrecognizable, that’s not what we ever had in mind.”

AZ/88 is scheduled to wrap up construction on September 26 and reopen the next day. Don’t worry— the bathroom mirrors will still be there.

AZ/88 The Bar

7353 Scottsdale Mall, Scottsdale
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Mr. P-Body