Bar Smith Owners Transforming PHX Nightclub into The Monarch Theatre

Categories: Opening/Closing
the monarch theatre.JPG
Benjamin Leatherman
The former location of PHX Nightclub and the future home of The Monarch Theatre.

When local house music maestros Pete "Supermix" Salaz and Sean "Senbad" Badger teamed up with local restaurateur Edson Madrigal and took over Bar Smith in 2010, the trio helped turn the downtown Phoenix nightspot into an arty haven for DJs and urban street culture.

And now for their next trick: transforming the old and busted PHX Nightclub next door into a new nightclub and music venue called The Monarch Theatre.

Within the past few weeks, the triumvirate of Salaz, Senbad, Madrigal (who run Bar Smith and collectively make up the Solstice Management Group) began leasing the property that formerly housed the now-defunct hip-hop club, which is immediately adjacent to Bar Smith. And they've got some big plans for the place.

"It's primarily going to be as an electronic music venue," Salaz says. "Our hopes are to pick up larger electronic music acts and DJs that will bring in a crowd that Bar Smith couldn't handle."

The monarchs of The Monarch (from left): Edson Madrigal, Sean Badger, and Pete Salaz.

Currently, he adds, their aim is open The Monarch on April 20 and host big-name EDM acts on Saturdays. Meanwhile, mid-level bands, electronica artists, and DJs of a Latin bent will be featured on Fridays. Some of the musical styles being spun include rock en español, salsa, and merengue.

Salaz says they're eager to bring in more Latin-oriented acts to downtown's nightclub Mecca along Washington Street, which already features such Hispanic hotspots as Sky Lounge. While Bar Smith itself offers a Latin night on Thursdays, the DJ/club owner says the Monarch will attract a more mature crowd.

"Just like with electronic music, there are so many different subgenres and they have their own little crowds now, and it's the same with Latin music. There are different subgenres and there are also different levels of acts that a venue can host and afford," he says. "So when you have a bigger venue a different scale has opened up. So we envision that Fridays at The Monarch will be an older, more adult-oriented Latin crowd, whereas Thursdays at Bar Smith is more of a younger Latin crowd. It's like how [Bar Smith weeklies] Solstice and Sticky Fingers have different average ages."

Solstice Management Group took over the erstwhile PHX Nightclub, which hosted hip-hop and R&B nights since it originally opened in 2008, after learning that its previous proprietors was declining to continue their lease.

"We basically had a heads-up from him and the landlord that this was going to happen, so it didn't take us by surprise, so after moving some things around we were able to come up with a lease."

Salaz says a flurry of changes is taking place inside the club as it transforms into The Monarch. The two-story property's first floor is undergoing a major renovation that includes installing a new dance floor and some of the bar area, as well as new lighting and an upgraded sound system.

"We're also going to change up the decor and color scheme quite a bit. The Monarch Theatre is sort of envisioned as sort of an old-timey theatre type of thing, so we want to add some heavy drapery and some back bar lighting to accentuate things," he says. "We're definitely going for more of a cleaner feel, I would say. Whereas Bar Smith is more urban and has that street cred kind of thing going for it, the new place will be more streamlined."

Once that's done, he adds, there are plans to tackle the upper level.

"Right now, our primary focus is to get the first floor open since we're already paying rent on the property, and that's a lot of weight for Bar Smith's shoulders to carry," Salaz says. "But once the main floor is up and running and generating revenue, we'll focus our attention on the second floor. Right now off the top of our heads we're thinking an ultra-lounge with maybe even some fine dining or space for art shows and stuff like that."

Location Info


The Monarch Theatre

122 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

Bar Smith

130 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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