The Sail Inn in Tempe to Close in June

Categories: Opening/Closing

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The Sail Inn: 1990-2006 and 2009-2014. 
For the past decade or so, the unique-looking logo of Tempe live music venue The Sail Inn has depicted a jaunty little schooner gliding off into the sunset. And, in a cruel twist of irony, it's appropriately symbolic of what's about to happen to the popular dive bar and rock haven.

Gina Lombardi, longtime owner of The Sail Inn, has revealed to New Times that the venue will be closing at the end of June after more than 20 years of serving as a go-to venue for the Tempe music scene.

"My heart is bleeding about it," she says. "I've been really trying to keep my chin up and say to myself, 'We've had a really good run.' But inside, I'm saying to myself, 'This is my baby. I've put so much of myself into here.'"

Lombardi says that The Sail Inn will shutter on June 29 due to the new property owner, who purchased the 1.34-acre parcel and the building itself last year, wanting to redevelop the land. According to the City of Tempe's website, it will eventually host multiple restaurants (possibly either new locations of Culinary Dropout and/or The Lodge), as well as a coffee shop, fitness studio, and retail space.

"Big developers have taken over the Sail Inn and it's going to become a restaurant," she says. "If the developers hadn't bought it, The Sail Inn would keep on rolling."

The Sail Inn's impending closure, which will take place on June 29, will serve as the closing chapter in the venue's long, colorful, and unusual history. Lombardi originally opened the bar, which is located along Farmer Avenue a few blocks west of downtown Tempe, back in 1990 when the property was known as Last Chance Lounge.

She ran it for 15 years and hosted thousands of local and touring bands, particularly those of the rock, pop and jam band variety. While Grateful Dead tribute act The Noodles were practically synonymous with The Sail Inn, as they held weekly jam sessions at the bar on Sunday afternoon, it also regularly featured recognizable names from the Tempe music scene from 1990 onwards.

Lombardi wound up selling the property for $1.5 million in 2006 to a local investor, who remodeled it into a gaudy nightclub called Trax. It didn't last long, closing in 2008, which opened the door for her to revive The Sail Inn in 2009.

"Trax failed miserably and since I loved the old Sail Inn so much, I leased it and brought it back."

And it once again became a preferred destination for Tempe bands and musicians.


Location Info

Map

Sail Inn - CLOSED

26 S. Farmer Ave., Tempe, AZ

Category: Music

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114 comments
olliefromtempe
olliefromtempe

I was impressed by the remodel.  Really nice outdoor area that sounded good and has a cool view.  Before that it was disgusting.  The swamp cooler made the crusty Tempe hippies smell worse and I can only speculate that the loyal Tempe-ons tolerated it because the odor of thick cigarette smoke and last week's beer on the floor covered it up.

 Developers had been salivating over that spot since the light rail vote passed so this was inevitable.  That Trax place seemed to put zero effort in promotion while thousands of ASU kids went to the mickey mouse bars on Mill just one block away.  I don't think that was a serious attempt at business.





Robert Landau
Robert Landau

Lost 6east and long wongs,let's go way back to the hut, the cave and bluegrass country Yuppie urbanization has ruined Tempe. Anyone remember parking on mill av. ?

Brian Schaefer
Brian Schaefer

Wasn't this posted twice before in just this past week?

Julie Polick de Haven
Julie Polick de Haven

Those developers are killing tempe. We lost six east , long wongs and many more for a bunch if crap franchises. Only a couple good places left.. So sad to see

Ronald DeLucia Jr.
Ronald DeLucia Jr.

Well , Black Carl will have to find another venue to play at. The Crescent I guess.

Janice Titgen
Janice Titgen

I loved sail inn! So is some trendy overpriced place coming in?

Shari Hanger
Shari Hanger

that's a terrible shame. it's sad to see such a great place close its doors just to see it taken over by more overpriced restaurants.

Dfactor Pop
Dfactor Pop

Mitchell Hillman called it a month ago. :-)

Jesse Adams
Jesse Adams

where will the hipsters flock to now? Oh they still have casey moores, nevermind

Phil Razzi
Phil Razzi

Only to open under new management...

Jarrett Williams
Jarrett Williams

Awww shucks! I'm going to have to find another bar with meat locker curtains.

Cory Bergquist
Cory Bergquist

huge bummer, saw some great shows there. First time I saw Mergence was at the Sail Inn!

Jeff Casazza
Jeff Casazza

Bummer. Great place to hang out and listen to some tunes.

Comanche_Moon
Comanche_Moon

Tempe music can and gone. We all grew up and got jobs.

Lauren Parker
Lauren Parker

Redmond J Largay III awww noo!! the memories! haha

iamhewhois
iamhewhois

Good riddance to a terrible bar.

Ian Calder Drummond
Ian Calder Drummond

Probably ran by your typical amateur Arizona business owner with the typical amateur rude bartender and typical amateur Arizona manager. There is no reason that place should be shutting down.

Kevin Jay Clapper
Kevin Jay Clapper

Simply don't patronize whatever takes its place in the redevelopment. To hell with the land owner.

Jim Dustan
Jim Dustan

don't fret, there will be one more coffee joint and restaurant to choose from now.

John Wilson
John Wilson

Playing at Sail Inn one last time May 10. Big Tempe Buffaloes gathering. See you all there!

Chris Sobel
Chris Sobel

Spent many Grateful Dead Sundays there :-(

redrock435
redrock435

Typical idiotic response by an Arizona moron! Try reading the article then comment jackazz!

wyvernwy
wyvernwy

The Sail Inn *was* the landowner, they made their choices, and now the nightclub faces the natural consequences of those choices.  It's pretty common.  Nightclubs simply don't take in enough revenue to justify real estate purchases.  A nightclub that owns its real estate is incredibly well situated.  They had that, and they sold it.  I can't imagine they were taking in enough money, at least not consistently, to ever truly own that property fee simple with no debt.  If they did, and they sold at the weakest point in the AZ real estate crash, then I hope they understood what they were doing.  

wyvernwy
wyvernwy

Well, Boston's couldn't hold down their rent, and neither could Nita's.  Instead of *selling*, why didn't they *buy the junkyard* and create a legitimate venue?  

wyvernwy
wyvernwy

@redrock435  They had an opportunity to become a solid contender as a live music venue, and they made an honest effort, but their patio stage ended up oriented 90 degrees from what it should have been, which just didn't work, and the indoor stage is also pretty bad.  With these stages, they just weren't going to attract certain levels of talent, and even if they did, they would never be able to accommodate the kind of crowds such talent would draw.  I know that real estate is tough, but at some point over 20 years, it becomes important to hold some sort of ownership stake in your property.  It might not have ever been an option for CBGB's for instance, but this real estate changed hands, and the Sail Inn didn't get a piece of the action.  Did they ever try?

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