Do Old Town and Mill Avenue bars have an expiration date?


One thing about the nightlife in Scottsdale is that the scene is constantly changing. There’s always something newer, fresher and more popular, and it seems like every couple months there’s always a new club opening.

But there’s only so much space in Old Town Scottsdale. So that means for a new bar to open, one has to close—and the shelf life of clubs in Scottsdale might as well have a guaranteed expiration date of five years.

Take American Junkie, for example. Originally opened in 2008, it quickly became one of the more popular destinations in Scottsdale, known for its rowdy parties and Junkie Wednesdays. After going through a rebranding process and opening their doors for business in mid-September 2014, two weeks later it officially shut its doors, going up for sale when the investor reportedly pulled out to focus on a different project in Tempe.

Former Junkie employee Katie Smith wasn’t surprised when this happened.

“From working in the industry for just over two years, I’ve noticed that a large part of establishment popularity has to do with the people that work there and the friend groups or regulars that they bring in,” Smith says. “However, as soon as a bar begins to become less busy than normal, employees usually try to leave and start working at a newer club that their friends are actually excited to attend. When the employee leaves, a large chunk of that bar’s costumer base leaves as well. This starts a chain reaction of other employees leaving as well. This is what caused Junkie to die within literally two weeks. Our entire staff quit and went somewhere else, and it just took one person to leave initially.”

But American Junkie isn’t the only club that’s experienced this phenomenon, and neither is Scottsdale the sole area. The same situation has occurred in Tempe as well on Mill Avenue with various clubs shutting down and reopening. Most notably, Firehouse in Tempe shut down after formerly being one of the more popular spots for nightlife. Most recently, Public House on Mill shut down last summer, with El Hefe opening up right next door.

There might not be an exact formula for staying popular and successful in the industry, and funnily enough, Smith thinks the key to keep things running smoothly and popular at any of these destinations is the staff and their rotation. At any rate, the shelf life of a nightclub in either area seems to always be limited, and your local club or bar might close sooner than you’d think.


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