Erik Hoyer (left) and Mike Kenney show off a movie prop that hung from the rafters at Minder Binder. This Roman gladiator came from an MGM auction back in the 1970s.

Locals and visitors alike built memories at Minder Binder, the Tempe landmark bar and restaurant at McClintock and University drives.

Now, some of those memories are up for sale as the restaurant’s new owner seeks to make some new ones.

EJ’s Auction & Consignment in Glendale will auction off more than 500 pieces of eclectic decorations that hung from the walls, ceilings and doors of the restaurant.

Removing them wasn’t an easy job.

“I’ve been in the auction business for 10 years, and that was the most difficult extrication of items I’ve ever had,” said Erik Hoyer, owner/auctioneer of EJ’s Auction & Consignment. “To be honest, I don’t know how that ceiling held that amount of weight that was on it. They had extremely heavy items on cables.

“There are some movie props like a Roman gladiator, but a lot of the items were real items. Real wagons, real sleighs. They had several pieces of heavy equipment, like a seeding grinder that weighed 600 to 800 pounds. It took us a crew of five or six about nine days.”

EJ’s will auction off items at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at 5880 W. Bell Road, Suite B, Glendale. A free public preview takes place Sept. 27-29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mike Kenney, who is the new owner of the space, marveled at the collection of things hanging all over the restaurant.

“Every square inch had something hanging from it,” he said. “There was no rhyme or reason. The theme was ‘There is no theme.’ Anything that could have been nailed or stapled or screwed to the wall was.”

Kenney said he was taken aback by a taxidermied horse hanging from the ceiling. “That was pretty strange,” he said.

“There’s an entire shell of a locomotive up high, just kind of hanging over an upper mezzanine era. We haven’t figured out how to get that down.”

Hoyer says the craziest piece he saw was an Inuit boat suspended above the bar.

“It’s called an umiak, an Inuit boat that they would use for whaling,” he said. “It would be wrapped up in seal skin or walrus skin. It’s unbelievable that you would use that to harpoon a whale. Pretty astonishing.

“It has the possibility of selling for thousands, but it’s so large that an everyday collector may not have a place for it. It’s more of a museum-type piece,” he said.

Hoyer says it’s difficult to pick out the most valuable piece on the auction block.

“A lot of it depends on the collectors that are after some of the items,” he said. “They may be more valuable because the collector has been in Minder Binder’s, and the piece will remind them of their youth.”

Hoyer has some Minder Binder memories of his own.

“I was a regular back in the ’80s,” he said. “I didn’t pay attention to the stuff on the ceiling. I thought it was pretty cool, but I was there for the girls and the beers. I have some great memories of that place.”

He’s not the only person looking for memories of time at Minder Binder.

“As the word (of the auction) got out over the weekend, a handful of people have called requesting certain items they remember from years ago,” Hoyer said, adding:

“In fact, somebody contacted me and said they used to work there and said they hid a time capsule inside a phone there. It would be interesting if we can find it. We’ll keep our eyes open for it.”

Minder Binder was originally a kit building constructed on site in 1970-71. It opened as Minder Binder’s Bar and Grill in 1972. In 2000, the business was sold to a new owner and closed in 2005. In 2012, the building was repurchased and reopened after extensive renovations.

It was closed again, and just purchased at the beginning of July by Mike Kenney, who will reopen it as The Social Hall.

A newcomer to Tempe, Kenney recently served as co-owner of his family’s successful Seattle restaurant, Art Mable 21. The Social Hall will serve American cuisine with a Latin flair beginning in November.

The original Minder Binder was known for food, drinks and a raucous atmosphere, which included a volleyball court out back.

“The guys before had ripped the volleyball court out, had redone the exterior but left the interior intact. There was a stark distinction between the outside and inside.” Kenney said. “It was a brand-new show on the outside, but inside was dark and older. It had a dingier feel.”

Even after renovations, Kenney said a little of the original Minder Binder ambience will remain.

“We’re trying to take the energy that Minder Binder had originally and take it to the next generation,” Kenney said. “We’re going to keep it a fun, casual atmosphere.”

That atmosphere will include some of the eclectic decorations.

“We’ve kept a small percentage of the items that were kept in good shape that are cool and make sense,” Kenney said. “We’re still trying to figure out how to incorporate some of the pieces that are ‘Minder Binder-y.’”

To see some of the items up for auction, and to register to bid online, go to tiny.cc/mbauction.

– Contact Ralph Zubiate at 480-898-6825 or rzubiate@timespublications.com.

 

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