Indie Week Pub Crawl particpants enjoy taste of downtown Phoenix

Local First Arizona, a non-profit organization working to support locally owned businesses, hosted its fourth annual Independents Week Pub Crawl July 3.

The organization celebrated Independents Week, or Indie Week, from June 25 to July 4.

This year marked the 11th anniversary of Indie Week, where Local First encouraged Arizonans to “go local” by shopping from and thus supporting local businesses, according to their website.

For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $43 remains in the economy. With every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business, only $13 remains in the economy, according to Local First Arizona.

The pub crawl was designed to support these businesses and introduce Phoenix residents to the many local shops available to them.

Yet, when you hear the words “pub crawl,” what exactly comes to mind?

As someone who had not previously witnessed a pub crawl firsthand, for me, those words only brought up images of college students drunkenly meandering from pub to pub on Mill Avenue.

Urban Dictionary, however, accredits the term to British slang, defining the pub crawl as a single evening during which a group of people attempt to visit as many pubs as possible, drinking a set number of beverages at each stop.

Still, Local First Arizona’s Indie Week Pub Crawl was something entirely different from what I had imagined-- the event was organized, effective and a perfect means of supporting local businesses in Phoenix while by playing on the boozy appeal of the pub crawl.

While many attendees may have already been familiar with the five bars on the map, for me, the Pub Crawl served as a diverting way to experience the many flavors of these local treasures.

Pub Crawlers were also encouraged to let loose with an Indie Week Pub Crawl Challenge, where participants were awarded points and entered to win prizes for completing various silly tasks and posting videos and photos on social media.

At one point, a fellow pub crawler approached me recited the Pledge of Allegiance. This was one of the wacky tasks in Local First’s challenge.

Check-in for the event began at Desoto Central Market, where attendees met some of Local First Arizona’s volunteers and employees.

Participants received manila envelopes packed with information about local restaurants, shops and bars, as well as an outline of the Pub Crawl’s bar locations and drink specials. Each pub crawler also received five red tickets, redeemable for a $4 drink special at each location.

At Desoto Central Market, guests began their evening with a 12 ounce draft beer, while playing the board games offered to all restaurant patrons.

The DeSoto building was once home to a Chrysler dealership, but now houses a variety of different eateries, including a bar.

Next, Local First Arizona's Community Outreach Coordinator Kendall Crever and Program Development Director Helene Tack led the group to its next location: the Cafe at Phoenix Public Market, where guests enjoyed the drink special, a glass of dark red sangria with fresh apple chunks.

Phoenix Public Market is just across the street from Arizona State University's downtown campus, and offers a variety of food, snacks and drinks, often made with food from the local farmers' market, according to the market's website.

After sipping on the market's refreshing sangria, the group journeyed to FilmBar, a movie theater and bar hybrid.

Unfortunately, FilmBar ran out of its original drink special, the Blanco White IPA, but offered the Fresh Squeezed IPA instead.

Unlike Phoenix Public Market and Desoto Central Market, FilmBar is not a restaurant; however, the bar offers its customers a variety of food items, including popcorn for movie-going patrons.

Carly’s Bistro was the fourth stop on the Pub Crawl journey, where participants were offered a watermelon margarita as the drink special.

The Bistro offers a variety of drink and appetizer items, but also serves more entree-like meals such as salads and sandwiches.

The Pub Crawl held its finale at the Nash, a live jazz concert venue that serves beer, wine and snacks. Pub Crawl participants paid a $4 admission fee and received a complimentary drink.

While I cannot honestly say that I would intentionally seek out these restaurants and bars simply because they are local vendors, I can say without hesitation that I would return for the great service, good food and wonderful ambiance of each location.

I believe Local First's efforts are admirable, and while all Arizonans should seek to "go local" for the benefit of the economy, consumers have a lot to gain from experiencing the individual flare and inherent Phoenician quality of these establishments.

Reach the reporter at or follow her on Twitter @emikamezaki

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