Ruby Room in Phoenix closes
by Ed Masley – Nov. 30, 2009 03:52 PM
The Arizona Republic
The Ruby Room, always a great place to check out a rock show and quite possibly the darkest room in downtown Phoenix, is closing its doors Tuesday, Dec. 1 after one last show with the Linoleums, the Van Go-Go’s and a touring band from Tokyo, The Heiz.
The news broke Monday on the venue’s Facebook page.
Before launching the Ruby Room at 717 S. Central Ave. in 2007, owner Greg Riggins ran the late, great Emerald Lounge on the corner of 7th Ave. and West McDowell Road in Phoenix.
Asked why he’s closing, Riggins replies with a laugh, “That would be a lack of customers.”
The Ruby Room, he says, has been a “tough one,” plagued by tougher DUI laws, a ban on public smoking and the tough economy.
“It used to be,” Riggins says, “when I opened the Emerald Lounge, people would walk in and go, ‘Shots for the bar.’ A few years later, it was like ‘Shots for my friends.’ Now, they walk in and the first thing anybody says is ‘What’s the drink special?’”
Asked if the venue’s location — in south Phoenix, on a one-way street — played a role in his troubles, Riggins says, “Well, there are places with better locations than I have closing too.”
Riggins think the appearance of the venue may have been a bigger factor.
“I think there’s a look that a punk-rock indie club is supposed to have,” he says. “And I didn’t have that. It didn’t look like CBGB. It didn’t look like the Emerald Lounge. I think there’s something about punk rock and indie rock that they want to drink at a place that looks like that, with nothing but band posters everywhere and writing on the wall.”
His vision for the Ruby Room, he says, was to capture a bit of the essence of the bars he thought were cool when he was growing up.
“I grew up in bowling-alley bars that had nude velvet paintings on the wall and were dark as a tomb,” he says. “And maybe that wasn’t the best thing I did. But I really enjoyed it. And I think it was a good bar.” As to where he goes from here, he isn’t sure.
“I don’t see myself ever being able to own a bar again,” he says. “They’re too expensive. But who knows? I may end up in the business in some capacity. If you know anyone who’s hiring, I’m available.”
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