Keep New Times Free
As we briefly noted last week, Roosevelt Row is getting two new bars from the team behind Killer Whale Sex Club. Owners Sam Olguin and Brenon Stuart — self-proclaimed downtown degenerates — plan to open Sabertooth sometime this spring. AstroBar will follow in the summer.
The new space for the two bars lies between Trapp Haus BBQ and Taco Chelo, which is within easy walking distance — under 400 feet — of Killer Whale Sex Club. Although the bars will be literally next door to each other, they will have separate entrances and completely different vibes.
We’ll start with Sabertooth, which was inspired by Japanese Izakayas — neighborhood pubs where people go to grab drinks and small bites after work. Here, though, food will be the bigger focus.
“There’s not a lot of other Japanese food we can get around here that isn’t just sushi,” says Olguin.
The menu will include charcoal-grilled yakitori and a raw bar with sashimi. The owners will collaborate with Deez Buns, the north-Tempe restaurant and team that’s also behind the kitchen at Killer Whale Sex Club, along with other chefs from around the Valley.
As for alcohol, the drink menu will list predominantly beer, wine, and sake, most of which will be on tap. Although Killer Whale is known for its extensive cocktail list with extravagant presentations, Olguin says the cocktails at Sabertooth will be a more straightforward, “what you see is what you get” type of thing. Olguin and Stuart are looking to include Japanese whiskeys and some “non-familiar flavors and ingredients” that aren’t often seen around metro Phoenix.
On to AstroBar, which Olguin says will look, feel, and sound more like a nightlife spot — more theatrical and music-focused.
For drinks, “Think tiki meets Tokyo,” or an underground tropical vibe according to Olguin, with over-the-top presentations and bold flavors. The two concepts will share a kitchen and AstroBar will offer guests a small portion of the food menu from Sabertooth.
Though Olguin is still withholding some AstroBar specifics, he says future guests can expect high energy. Maybe some weirdness. “Guests should leave this bar thinking, ‘This is wild, I don’t know what just happened, and we’re going to have to come back again,'” Olguin says.
Sabertooth and AstroBar will be the third and fourth bar openings under the owners’ belts.
Stuart and Olguin got their start working at the Barter & Shaker Hospitality concept, Undertow. The closing of the cocktail spot Pobrecito in The Churchill offered the opportunity to open their first bar, So Far, So Good, in October of 2019 in the same spot. In February of 2020, the duo opened the doors to Killer Whale — the “local neighborhood house party that couldn’t afford a sign,” as Olguin describes it.
Although they seem to like the Roosevelt area, they say they are looking to expand all over the Valley with their company, Innovate Hospitality. This ability to “pivot and move” has been a big factor in the duo’s growth (maintaining Killer Whale and now opening two more concepts) during the pandemic, according to Olguin. The company motto? Innovate or die.
“Right now, you can either shrink up and shell away and hide,” says Olguin, “Or you can try to seize opportunities … and grow.”
He adds that he doesn’t see a rivalry starting with Sake Haus, another Japanese-inspired lounge from Julian Wright opening down the street in the former spot of The Dressing Room.
“I don’t see anything like that as competition,” Olguin says. “We’re here to support each other.”
In fact, he says hopes more places continue to open downtown to draw more people to the area.
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