Release Date: Friday, September 21st 2012
Bicycle-friendly bar opens on Mill Avenue
By Amy Edelen
Handlebar and Grill, a European inspired bicycle-friendly bar, is the newest addition to Mill Avenue and the latest concept from restaurateur Julian Wright.
Wright, an ASU alumnus, is no stranger to the Mill Avenue district.
He owns two other popular Mill Avenue restaurants, Canteen Modern Tequila Bar and La Bocca Urban Pizzeria and Wine Bar.
Wright said he spent a lot of time on Mill Avenue as an ASU student, which influenced his decision to start his businesses in Tempe rather than Scottsdale.
“Everything is so close together and I am interested in investing and reinventing Mill Avenue,” Wright said.
After graduation, he moved around the country and ultimately spent some time in Europe, which became his main inspiration for his newest venture.
He said that in Europe, mainly in Amsterdam, he visited friendly neighborhood beer gardens with relaxed atmospheres where patrons could sit down and chat with each other.
“There are not a lot of places like that here,” Wright said. “I really wanted to do something that didn’t turn into a nightclub.”
Located at 680 South Mill Avenue., Handlebar and Grill features high ceilings, custom furniture and reclaimed wood panels that come from a barn that Wright specifically bought just to use for restaurant design materials.
The restaurant also features a large outdoor patio with fire pits, benches, lighted trees and hooks where patrons can hang their bikes.
The bar boasts 24 craft beers on tap, including beer from local breweries such as SanTan Brewing, Sonoran and Mudshark.
Additionally, eight European beers and eight featured beers that are rotated out on a weekly basis are also on tap.
The bar carries 24 beers in bottles and cans.
The restaurant has a small six-by-six kitchen area and a limited menu that features German-style food such as bratwurst from Schreiner’s, a local Phoenix sausage company, Belgian-style pretzels, hand-cut fries and “local raised and grass fed” burgers.
Similar to other local craft breweries, bartenders have to take a one-week beer training class and pass a beer knowledge test with an 80 percent or higher.
Bartender Matt Gautreau said Handlebar aims to be different than other craft breweries in the area by offering more of a relaxed, friendly neighborhood bar ambiance that appeals to an older crowd.
“We get a lot of business professionals here, unlike Canteen, which caters more toward the younger crowd.” Gautreau said.
Jason Leveglia, a Scottsdale resident and businessman, visited Handlebar on its opening night Wednesday.
“I have been to many craft breweries in the Phoenix area, and I really like that this place appeals to an older crowd.” Leveglia said.
Leveglia said he liked the rotating taps and ample seating space.
Handlebar and Grill will be offering giveaways and planning upcoming events including an Oktoberfest special starting Oct. 1, which offers deep discounts on beer if patrons purchase a special short stein, a smaller version of a large beer.
The Handlebar and Grill is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.