Closed for Business

The Golden Margarita Closed Following Liquor License Woes and Community Complaints

The Golden Margarita was named after its signature cocktail.
The Golden Margarita was named after its signature cocktail. Elias Weiss
The Golden Margarita has closed its doors after a battle over its liquor license, following turbulence with its Roosevelt Row neighbors.

The business operated as a Mexican restaurant by day and raucous nightclub come sundown. It opened in September 2020, taking over the vast space formerly inhabited by Paz Cantina at East Roosevelt and Third Streets. Along with serving food and drinks, the bar hosted live musicians and televised UFC fight nights. A table next to the DJ booth served by scantily clad "bottle girls" went for around $1,000 before factoring in liquor costs.

There have been numerous reports of violence in and around the bar since its opening, including an allegedly homophobic attack on a gay couple in April 2021, according to the Arizona Republic, and a January 2 shooting.

The Golden Margarita was also plagued by rumors that staff were going unpaid or had to wait "six weeks without pay," according to an anonymous Better Business Bureau complaint filed in September of 2021.

The business was owned and managed by Saraj Gem Ray, a promoter who has connections to many Old Town Scottsdale nightclubs through his concierge service Scottsdale Nights. There, he plans events and books bottle service for those looking for a good time at popular Scottsdale clubs.

click to enlarge The Golden Margarita was located on Roosevelt Row. - ELIAS WEISS
The Golden Margarita was located on Roosevelt Row.
Elias Weiss
The Golden Margarita's headache continued in July 2021, when the city of Phoenix recommended disapproval of their liquor license, following a similar recommendation from the Phoenix Police Department.

"The Police Department disapproval is based on a history of non-compliance related to prior liquor licenses held by the applicant, including failure to meet the required percentage of food sales and the presence of an employee intoxicated while on duty," according to documents from the July City Council meeting.

The battle for the license wore on for months until the restaurant finally closed. After almost a year of fighting for its liquor license and collecting complaints from local residents, The Golden Margarita said goodbye to its customers.

In a series of May 9 Instagram posts, the restaurant's account thanked supporters of the Golden Margarita, including, "Guests, tourists, residents, staff, purveyors, city officials, all first responders and PD and the military. We are excited for what's next."
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Natasha Yee is a freelance writer and yoga teacher who likes to explore the city. She considers the thesaurus her best friend.
Contact: Natasha Yee