Joe Mocca never wanted a piece of the bar business, but Sunday he says good-bye to the landmark Tempe brew pub he’s owned for nearly 17 years — Bandersnatch.
When Mocca and his wife, Addie, moved to the Valley from Chicago in the mid 1970s, he wanted take part in a place that celebrated diversity and culture.
"When I walked in here, I knew this was the place," Mocca said, looking around the pub the couple bought in 1986.
Inside the pub’s brown brick walls, decorated with metal sculptures, Mocca said he and his wife accomplished what they set to do.
"This is not the place you go to be seen," Mocca said, "this is the place you go to not be seen." The longtime owner said he wanted to offer the community an alternative to the trendy night club scenes of Tempe and Scottsdale.
After Sunday, Matt Engstram and Barrett Rinzler, owners of Scottsdale night club Martini Ranch, will take over the bar at 125 E. Fifth St.
Mocca said they plan on tearing out the small brewery in the back room, which angered local brewers who use the facility to make their own beer. Engstram and Rinzler promised to keep the bar’s current staff, he said.
Since the announcement of the sale Tuesday, many of the pub’s patrons have blamed the city, claiming that Tempe forced the couple to sell.
Mocca said the city never forced him out, but he sold rather than face a possible eminent-domain battle with the city.
Tempe spokeswoman Mary Fowler said the city never considered buying the property for public use.
Michael Goodman, a longtime customer, called Bandersnatch a piece of cultural history.
"To a lot of us this place was more of a family than our real family," he said.