Now Open

Now Open: The Sleepy Whale Craft Beer Bar Definitely Doesn't Blow

The Sleepy Whale went through 21 kegs during its grand opening party.
The Sleepy Whale went through 21 kegs during its grand opening party. Courtesy of The Sleepy Whale
On Thursday, May 2, the Sleepy Whale opened daily service in downtown Chandler. Why is that important? The Sleepy Whale happens to be a beer bar and bottle shop operated by Justin Evans of The Wandering Tortoise and Hops On Birch renown.

The Whale, as it’s already being called, had a hell of an opening weekend. The success of the grand opening party, which is to say day one, can be measured in the amount of kegs the shop went through, which is to say 21. The day’s action bumped the new shop to the fifth-most checked-in location on Untappd, globally. Yeah.

click to enlarge Two members of The Sleepy Whale team. - COURTESY OF THE SLEEPY WHALE
Two members of The Sleepy Whale team.
Courtesy of The Sleepy Whale
Evans opened the beer joint with Tony Fatica and Ryan Kemmet. Fatica was an employee of Evans’, Kemmet a patron, and both are now business partners. Evans describes Fatica as the right-hand man, and Kemmet as the go-to guy when something needs figuring out. “We all just kind of balance each other,” Evans says.

Back to the beer.


The Sleepy Whale, like the Wandering Tortoise, keeps a tight and heavily exclusive beer menu. It has 32 taps, and features Arizona beer companies like Wren House, Arizona Wilderness, Pueblo Vida in Tucson, Dark Sky from Flagstaff, and more. In fact, Dark Sky gave the Whale a keg of anniversary beer to shell out before the staff had even tapped it themselves. It’s a supportive group.

Almost as supportive as the community surrounding downtown Chandler, in fact. Evans says it's not unsurprising that a new spot with good beer and good marketing earned so many patrons, but the new Whale team, and the amount of kegs they went through, still blew his mind.

click to enlarge A new downtown Chandler night spot. - COURTESY OF THE SLEEPY WHALE
A new downtown Chandler night spot.
Courtesy of The Sleepy Whale
“I’m blown away by the new staff and the new faces,” he says.

And Evans was once one of those southeast Valley faces. He’s from the Chandler area, and knows the lack of craft beer concepts in that part of town. “I always had to travel for beer,” he says, which is why he picked the rising downtown Chandler area for his third spot (in addition to Tortoise and Hops).

Well, that and Chandler’s walkability. Well, more so once the construction clears up.

Even with three spots humming along, Evans is still hustling. At press time, he’s working to open a fourth spot, again with Fatica and Kemmet. The Theodore is in the early stages of opening in Phoenix proper this August. Which is funny, because, “I hate ‘the’ and I still seem to do it anyway,” he says.

The Sleepy Whale. 290 South Arizona Avenue, Chandler.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily
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Lauren Cusimano is Phoenix New Times' food and drink editor. She is a journalist and food waste writer based in Tempe. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Contact: Lauren Cusimano