Posted on October 14, 2009
The bar, which has locations in Florida, Texas and California, opens Friday, Oct. 16, in the heart of the nightlife hub in Old Town Scottsdale. It takes up shop in the former club Lyte, bringing a new concept to the area.
“We have always been interested in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area, and we though it would be a perfect fit for the community there that is a vibrant one,” said Jimmy Bernstein, CEO and owner of Howl at the Moon.
The Valley is no stranger to dueling piano bars. The popular Big Bang Bar is on Mill Avenue in Tempe and the Shout! House is at Glendale’s Westgate City Center. Both bring in big crowds, especially on weekend nights. Bernstein said there are aspects that make Howl at the Moon unique.
“We started 20 years ago and have been evolving our show ever since,” he said. “We focus on our music very much and creating an energy in the room.”
And Howl at the Moon hires performers who can play a variety of drums, guitars, horns and other instruments to back pianos. Synthesizers or a keytar may even be spotted.
The cocktail menu, the same in every city, offers cocktails with such names as the 3-Way, Pear-Otica and X-Boyfriend.
Although a big part of a dueling piano bar is to honor people’s song requests, Bernstein said it is important to keep things fresh every night.
“We get most of the same requests every night,” he said. “Someone who returns doesn’t want to see the same thing . . . It’s the piano player’s interpretation of the crowd that dictates what the mood and tempo will be.”
But it’s unlikely that people who return the same week won’t hear Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” more than once, which both Bernstein and Scottsdale’s general manager Chris Kelly agree is the most requested and played tune.
Kelly is intrigued by Scottsdale’s seasonal market.
“There will be an extremely diverse audience, and it’s one of the few places a 25-year-old can go with their parents, and the core audience of 20 to 40 can all actually have a good time together,” he said.
Ben Hirons, manager for Tempe’s Big Bang Bar, doesn’t know if Howl at the Moon will be a strong competitor because they’re in different cities. He expects crowds at all the dueling piano bars.
“People are drawn to (dueling piano bars) the same reason anyone goes to any concept bar: they want something else than just the alcohol,” he said.