Michigan Native Brings Midwest Bar Feel to Phoenix

Located on the northwestern strip of 32nd Street and Indian School, the newly opened The Bar is creating a unique name for itself in the Phoenix area. Drawing inspiration from the Midwest and The Big Lebowski, this new bar is aiming to be a neighborhood favorite. 

Michigan native and The Bar Owner Michael Withey knew for some time that he wanted to eventually be a bar owner. Although he also knew he never wanted to turn it into an empire.

His objective was to create something simple, comfortable and soulful where people from the neighborhood could go and just feel at home. 

“I liked the simplicity of many of the bars I went to back in Michigan and I wanted to bring that here to Arizona,” Withey said. 

Upon entering The Bar, one will immediately notice the once empty space has been turned into a modern and welcoming hangout. Touching on its The Big Lebowski influence, one of the walls features a wood artwork of “The Dude.” Another, holds a neon sign with a quote from Hunter S. Thompson which says, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

When it came to creating the drink menu, Withey and Bar Manager Arianna Theisan wanted to create signature drinks that were unique, fun and that people in the neighborhood could relate to. Among the drinks they created includes “The Caucasian,” a take on the White Russian so often seen in the The Big Lebowski, a margarita called “The Nasty Woman” and a daiquiri called “You’re Not a Golfer.”

Withey says hiring Theisan has been a critical component to offering great service and ensuring integrity with the other employees.

While comfort and good drinks are important in creating a neighborhood bar, Withey also wanted to find a partner that could create great food for his customers. 

That’s when he decided to team up with Ron and Eva Ingram who own neighborhood favorite The Stand just up the street on 36th Street and Indian School Road. Together the three came up with the idea for Neatly’s, which is now housed under The Bar.

Serving up pressed Panini sandwiches and easily shareable finger food, Ron Ingram said Neatly’s “is like a food truck inside a bar.”

While Neatly’s menu includes a wide variety of different options, he said their most popular food item is the Ironing Board Sliders which is comprised of Neatly cut sourdough bread, fresh ground beef, diced white onion, Stand sauce and American cheese.

To satisfy all of their customers, the menu also includes gluten free and vegetarian options.

While it’s hard to predict what’s to come in the future for The Bar, Withey said he has no plans on doing anything different in the coming years and will continue to create a comfortable, fun and simple spot in the neighborhood.

 “When you have an idea in your head and you finally see it come to life, it’s really rewarding,” Withey said.

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