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El Santo Rides the Wave of Beach-Themed Bars Opening in the Valley

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012

Updated: Friday, July 20, 2012 14:07

El Santo

Adrian Lesoing

El Santo Cantina's sparkling pool

The latest trend to hit the Scottsdale nightclub and bar scene are nightclubs and bars with pools. With temperatures pushing well into the triple digits, the trend is a welcome one.

The latest addition to the pool bar concept is El Santo in north Scottsdale, a business that its owners say caters to much more than beach babes and bums.

The project comes from Scottsdale dining and entertainment moguls Brian Ruede, Bryan Chittenden, Andrew Nam and Greg Donnelley, collectively known as the Old Town Group (OTG) which owns and operates Geisha A Go Go, Jimmy Woo's and Spanish Fly Mexican Beach Club in Old Town Scottsdale, as well as all Stingray Sushi locations.

“After we saw the opening success of Spanish Fly, we recognized a need in north Scottsdale for a cantina style restaurant that had a large patio space with a pool,” Ruede said.

In late November, the group procured a 25,000 square foot space near Scottsdale Quarter at East Butherus Drive and 73rd Street. Over the Cinco de Mayo weekend, El Santo celebrated its grand opening.

Described as a cantina, patio bar and restaurant built around a Mexican resort-style pool, El Santo has quite the allure. The locale is large and hosts three different elements including a dining space, a covered patio/cantina and a 14,000 square foot pool space with a palapa bar.

A number of cabanas surround the pool while lime green umbrellas and chaise lounges brighten the festive but relaxed environment. A waterfall cascades into the pool area where guest can bask in the sun and cool off while sipping on their beverage of choice.

El Santo prides itself on an extensive menu of specialty cocktails, from frozen margaritas and pina coladas to specialty party bowls like La Bonita Grande and the Chupacabra. The cantina also has a tasty looking list of “freshies” which are specially crafted drinks that infuse fresh fruits and alcohol.

During the day, El Santo will operate as a family friendly restaurant but will offer happy hour specials of two-for-one drinks and half priced appetizers every Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. As the sun starts to set on the palapas, El Santo will transform into the nighttime, tequila shooting hub that it is.

Wednesday nights is ladies night, which means ladies can enjoy two-for-one drink specials all night long. On Wednesday and Friday nights, El Santo will come alive with a combination of DJs and live bands.  

Although the Mexican-inspired theme and the pool may sound all too familiar to Spanish Fly frequenters, Ruede said El Santo is entirely different.

“It has to do with the location and style of the place as well as the clientele” Ruede said.

Though the pool is a huge component of  El Santo, the restaurant and bar’s main focus will be its food and catering to the surrounding business crowd’s need for lunch and happy hour spots.

“It truly is a cantina space with its own restaurant and a nice enlarged patio, and it just happens to have a pool,” Ruede said.                             

El Santo’s kitchen will be headed by Chef Tim Fields, who came to El Santo from Chelsea’s Kitchen. The menu shows a wide range of food types from tacos and enchiladas to wood fired burgers, but Ruede said they are striving for traditional Mexican flavors.  

“We’re really hoping that this place will fill the need for lunches for local businesses, happy hours for people that are looking for a place that is come-as-you-are and casually grab a drink any day of the week,” Ruede said. “We believe that a restaurant, cantina and patio bar space really does cater to that.”

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