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Dining sales in downtown Phoenix picking up, says Partnership

[Source: Lynn Ducey, Phoenix Business Journal] — Sales at bars and restaurants in the downtown business district were up 5.4% through September, according to a report just released by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.  From January through September 2008, sales at downtown bars and restaurants totaled more than $194 million, compared with $183 million during the same period in 2007, according to the report.   “Bars and restaurants are a leading indicator of any type of redevelopment activity,” said Dave Roderique, president and CEO of the nonprofit partnership, which represents businesses within the 90-square-block downtown area.  “I think this is a very positive sign for downtown.”

Downtown Phoenix Partnership research indicates 29 new bars and restaurants opened between January and September, including Bar Smith, Sonoma Grill, Sens, and ZPizza, and eight others were under construction. The study also shows 14 restaurants closed during that period, including 101 Bistro and Circa 1900.

18-and-over bar events downtown draw ASU students

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — For Nikki Hendry, it was a choice between squeezing in a couple of hours of studying and an 18-and-over club night in downtown Phoenix.  Midterms didn’t have a chance.  “Oh my God, we were so happy that there was something to do downtown,” Hendry, 18, said Thursday.  Hendry, a student at ASU, was at Bar Smith, dancing in a crowd of other classmates as Lil Wayne’s hit Lollipop thundered through the speakers.  It’s another sign that Arizona State University has not only made its mark on the Phoenix skyline — it’s begun to seep into downtown nightlife.  At least two nightspots, Bar Smith and Sky Lounge, have 18-and-older dance nights.

This fall, about 5,000 ASU students took classes in Phoenix and roughly 550 of them live in downtown dorms, according to the university.  While ASU is growing, nearby shops have struggled to attract students.  While Sky Lounge and Bar Smith managers are happy about the positive word of mouth, there have been lessons as well, they say.  Bar Smith, which operates an upscale restaurant during the day, unsuccessfully tried to lure students with meal discounts, owner Bill Smith said.  But the Thursday 18-and-over club night was an instant hit.  It attracts up to 80 students a night, he said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]