Grace Perry has something of an eclectic resume.
She spent several years as the lead singer/screamer for death metal band Landmine Marathon, for instance, while also working as a librarian and earning a degree in public policy and management. Since then, she’s been a cubicle drone, managed restaurants for Upward Projects, helped open Valley Bar, and worked behind the scenes at Crescent Ballroom.
Oh yeah, she also hopes to become a city councilwoman someday.
“I think I'm one of those people who needed to try everything,” Perry says. “I'm a really, really hard worker, so I'd never say I'm just a job-hopper. I'm dedicated to every job I've ever had. It just took all of those things to realize what was best for me right now.”
And that means owning and operating her own bar, which will become a reality very shortly.
Later this month, Perry will open Gracie’s Tax Bar, a laid-back watering hole and hangout in downtown Phoenix with plenty of character. She describes the spot, located on Seventh Avenue just south of McKinley Street, as a casual neighborhood bar offering a chill vibe, cheap drinks, and zero attitude.
"I wanted a place where you get off of work and want to have a beer and just go there,” Perry says. “Just this cozy, dark place where you want to stay a really long time and enjoy yourself.”
And Gracie’s patrons will be able to do so while enjoying beer and booze, engaging in conversation, or participating in some typical bar-type distractions.
“We’re going to have big ol' pitchers of beer, we're going to do cheap well drinks, we're going to have a projector on the patio, and maybe play some games on the weekend,” Perry says.
From the sounds of it, Gracie’s Tax Bar will differ from downtown’s glut of drinkeries, clubs, concert halls, and nightspots in a number of ways.
The spot won’t be a venue or focused on live music (save for the occasional performance out on the patio), there isn’t a dance floor, and the drinks will be economically priced.
“We're really not trying to compete with a lot of the businesses downtown,” Perry says. “I'm not trying to make it the next big thing. I want it to be the place to watch a game, hang out, and relax. It's not necessarily a going-out-dressed-to-the-nines sort of place. We're just not trying to do the $12 cocktails kind of thing. We're going to try to thrive on regulars, on people coming back because they want downtown to be awesome.”
As for the bar’s slightly off-kilter name, Perry says it riffs on the building’s former role hosting a tax-preparation business.
“So it was a tax place originally, and we're just paying a little bit of an homage to that,” Perry says. “It’s part of the original sign for it and I'm all about trying to preserve Phoenix, so we gutted the inside but kept the outside. Gracie's Tax Bar sounded weird enough to keep.”
But don’t expect the taxation theme to extend much beyond the sign outside.
“We might play on that a little more and do a special on Tax Day or something like that,” Perry says. “We really just wanted to pay homage to the history of the building.”
The interior of Gracie’s Tax Bar, which Perry says will hold around 70 people, will look “kind of like a '70s office building turned into a bar,” with wood-paneled walls and a jukebox stocked with CDs.
“It was super-fun picking out those CDs,” Perry says. “I love '90s music, so there's probably too much '90s music, but also blues and stuff from all over the spectrum.”
Out back, there’s a patio that will feature a pass-through window into the bar and a combination of high walls, lots of shade, and plenty of trees and misters.
“We’re creating the patio to where it's more summer friendly, so even on the hotter days, you can get cool,” Perry says. “So it feels like more of an escape.”
You might even some of Gracie’s patrons playing a few games out on the patio, Perry says, including one of her personal favorites, Dungeons & Dragons.
“Anyone who knows me, I'm like the biggest nerd on the planet and I regularly play Dungeons & Dragons,” Perry says, laughing. “I told my husband, ‘I want to do a tabletop gaming night where people come in and play D&D.' We actually got engaged playing a D&D game.”
Besides being a self-described “huge dork,” Perry’s also a fan of corny and goofy things. As such, she says that her bar will have a bit of a similar vibe and a sense of humor. “It’s definitely going to be kind of a kooky place,” she says.
That explains the bar’s charmingly archaic and humorous website, which looks like something straight from GeoCities circa-1997, complete with animated text and an embedded MIDI soundtrack (which we're pretty sure is an Andrew W.K. song).
“It was hand-built by my brother,” she says, chuckling. “Like I said, I'm just trying to make it a neighborhood bar and the website sort of embodies that. I definitely didn't want to pay any money for it. So I think that that was also intentional.”
It’s not the only corny advertisement that Gracie’s Tax Bar has going, however. There’s also temporary sign hanging on the exterior that declares “The End is Beer.”
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“I wanted to hang something outside, but I wanted it to be obscure enough to where it’s not just saying, ‘Coming soon: Gracie's Tax Bar,’” she says. “I wanted a sign where people will turn their heads and go, ‘What the hell is that?’ So I straight up just asked a bunch of friends what a funny sign [would be] and one of my friends came up with it and I was like, ‘This is awesome.’”
Especially since it fit with her sense of humor.
“I love dad jokes and that's like the ultimate dad joke,” Perry says.