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Tempe’s College Bar & Grill set to close

The bar's closure comes at the same time as its landlord is in discussions to sell the land to University Realty

College Bar
Pedestrians walk near College Bar in Tempe, Arizona, on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.

After two years of service, College Bar & Grill will close its doors on Veterans Way and College Avenue for the last time Tuesday night.

Housed in the space formerly known as Mad Hatter Brew Pub, the ASU alumni-owned bar and grill stood across the street from "A" mountain with ASU's Desert Financial Arena nearby.

The closure comes at the decision of Grady Gammage Jr., real estate developer and owner of the property.

Gammage, who has owned the building for 20 years, said he had been working to sell the building "for quite some time" and expects a deal to be closed by the end of the year.

A spokesperson from ASU Enterprise Partners said that University Realty is conducting the transaction, not the ASU Foundation or ASU directly.

University Realty is a subsidiary of ASU Enterprise Partners, a nonprofit organization that raises and invests in resources and partnerships for the University.

Nick Nicholas, dean of operations for College Bar & Grill, said he feels "privileged" to have had the chance to serve the Sun Devil community and build relationships with the spot's employees and their patrons.

"We're just thankful that we had the opportunity to do what we did," Nicholas said. "And if we were going to go out, going out with you."

According to its Yelp page, College Bar & Grill came to be after “Two guys sat down in a bar and had the idea that Downtown Tempe needed a neighborhood bar, and the Arizona State University community needed a home.” 

From its Twitter account, College Bar & Grill released a statement Tuesday afternoon on its closing, writing that President Michael Crow and others working directly with him "had absolutely nothing to do with our closing and were in fact in favor of us staying through the end of the school year."

“Nick and the bar have known for months this would be coming," Gammage said. "We had a verbal agreement the bar would close. ... That’s it. End of story.

"This isn’t about ASU being mean to some bar owner, it’s about a failure of the owners to keep up with their rent and responsibilities. They owe me tens of thousands of dollars. They haven’t paid rent in months."

ASU plans to keep the building to use as an office while also retaining the coffee shop nearby, Gammage said, adding that they will likely look for a new restaurant to take over but there are currently no specific details.

"I don’t want this to be a narrative about ASU bullying some bar, or being mean to football fans," Gammage said. "That’s not the story here at all."

Joe Healey, who owns the bar with Nicholas, expressed his disappointment on Twitter

"Heartbroken but grateful," Healey wrote. "It's frustrating as hell not to go out on our own terms. We will be back, hopefully very soon. Thank you all."

According to its statement, College Bar & Grill's closing is set to be temporary.

“If we were gonna go out, at least we went out with a Territorial Cup victory,” reads the statement. “We are Sun Devils, we will always be Sun Devils, and we will be back. Hopefully very soon.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly explained who is purchasing the building that housed College Bar & Grill.

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Ellie BorstExecutive Editor 2021-22

Ellie Borst is the executive editor of The State Press, overseeing the publication and its four departments: online, magazine, multimedia and engagement. She plans to graduate in May 2022 with her master's in legal studies and got her bachelor's in journalism in 2021. Previous roles she has held since joining SP in 2018 include digital managing editor, magazine managing editor, community and culture desk editor, and arts and culture reporter.

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