Two new bars to open in former Rula Bula in Tempe. Here's when and what to expect | Phoenix New Times

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Two new bars to open in the old Rula Bula space in Tempe. Here's what to expect

Devil's Hideaway and Idle Hands Enchanted Cocktail Bar are slated to open on Mill Avenue.
A rendering of the future Devil's Hideaway, one of two concepts due to open in the former Rula Bula space in downtown Tempe in November.
A rendering of the future Devil's Hideaway, one of two concepts due to open in the former Rula Bula space in downtown Tempe in November. Wesley James
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Two concepts with different personas are slated to call the former Rula Bula building on Mill Avenue and Fourth Street in downtown Tempe home.

Devil’s Hideaway, a bar, eatery, adult playground and live music spot; and Idle Hands Enchanted Cocktail Bar, a cocktail bar flaunting higher-end libations, will occupy the 1888 historic structure that has been vacant since the beloved Irish pub closed four years ago.

Both establishments are poised for a November opening, according to owner Julian Wright. This will be the latest in three planned iterations for the space since Wright signed the lease in 2019. Previously, Wright eyed it for the second location of his downtown Phoenix sushi bar Sake Haus, but scrapped that plan. He considered opening a steakhouse before that. However, this new duo of bars looks to be the plan that sticks.

What's on the docket for Devil's Hideaway?

Devil’s Hideaway will feature tables, sunken booths and a 20-seat bar. The open-air back patio will offer casual seating, an outdoor bar and a stage for bands. There will be a food truck-style walk-up window for food orders.

The menu will be a cornucopia of eclectic finger foods with everything made fresh onsite. One hearty dish will be poutine made with homemade gravy, Frites Street double-fried French fries and cheese curds with the option to top it with sauteed bacon and jalapenos.

Other items include steamed Chinese dumplings with chili oil and a French dip served on Noble bread with gruyere cheese, horseradish cream and au jus. The sandwich will be filled with beef that roasts low and slow all day and served for dinner crowds until the meat is gone.

A grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich — a favorite of Wright’s when he was a kid — brings levity to the lineup.

“Imagine if you were walking around a street festival with street food, food trucks and pop-ups,” Wright says of the culinary inspiration for Devil’s Hideaway. “It’s fun, playful food that’s easy to eat… nothing that you need a knife and fork for.”

click to enlarge
A rendering of Idle Hands Enchanted Cocktail Bar, one of two new concepts due to open in the former Rula Bula space in downtown Tempe in November.
Wesley James

A hidden second concept

Wright has also taken over the 800-square-foot retail space to the south of the restaurant, which had previously housed a vape shop. Here, he plans to open Idle Hands, a bar accessed via a hallway by the Devil’s Hideaway kitchen. With the clandestine entry and no entrance from the street, the concept gives off a speakeasy-like aura.

At Idle Hands, patrons will find a more sophisticated drink selection with high-end spirits, house-made mixers and all the other touches of a quality cocktail bar, Wright explains. An absinthe program is also in the works.

Wright hopes the dual-concept space will provide something for everyone, attracting the 20-something crowd looking for a casual hangout with sips and hearty no-fuss eats along with residents, visitors and patrons seeking a more mature experience. Together, the two concepts encompass 9,000 square feet and have the capacity to accommodate 350 guests.

“I’ve always wanted to do multiple concepts under one roof,” Wright says. “I think we’ll appeal to a much broader demographic.”

What to expect at the bar duo

Wright collaborated with architect Wesley James to design Devil’s Hideaway and Idle Hands’ different vibes. James is responsible for the look of UnderTow and Century Grand cocktail bars.

A relaxed old-world European ambiance will permeate Devil’s Hideaway, with walls and ceilings formed into arches like you’d see in Prague or Budapest, along with cool artwork. Booths that sink into the walls are designed to give the impression of being underground.

At Idle Hands, the team hopes to create a French vibe complete with higher-end furniture, arched walls and curved metal that resemble the bottom of the Eiffel Tower. One wall will be projection-mapped with a slowly moving image of an enchanted forest.

Wright is an Arizona State University alum and has been a mover-and-shaker on the Mill Avenue bar and restaurant scene for two decades. He also owns Pedal Haus Brewing which has locations in Tempe, Chandler and downtown Phoenix along with Luckys Indoor Outdoor, Kahvi Coffee and Sake Haus. Wright says he’s noticed his college stomping grounds have become more clubby with few places to sit. More often than not, the bars blast overpowering music that makes it difficult to have conversations, he says.

Through his upcoming establishments, Wright hopes to satiate audiences craving another option.

“I wanted to create an alternative that has a bar DNA, but good food to go with it, that’s lively with premier seating, that’s not overcrowded and welcoming to everybody,” Wright says. “I think this is the right concept for where Mill Avenue is today.”

Devil's Hideaway and Idle Hands

Opening this November
401 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
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