Tucson Mall has a new martini-centric restaurant and a longtime midtown bar/restaurant has new owners and a new mission.

  • The Midtown Bar and Grill on East Speedway and Swan is now House of Bards, a live music venue and restaurant where two-for-$25 steak night and all-you-can-eat fresh fish Fridays replaces fried bar food and a handful of pool tables and dart boards.

The idea, co-owner John Bujak said, is to create an arts-centric space for musicians that will eventually include an adjacent music store and studio.

“It’s like a House of Blues with a music store, and it’s all about live music,” said Bujak, who owns Bards, 4915 E. Speedway, with Judith Bard. “It’s all organic; the musician’s poet.”

Bujak and Bard, along with Bujak’s fiancé, Angie Hunter, and partner Ray Velez, own the 18-month-old music store Lessons N’ More at 4889 E. Speedway, across the street from House of Bards. They plan to move it into the space adjacent to the bar that once housed a motorcycle shop.

Soon after taking over the bar/restaurant, Bujak and Bard created a staging area and started inviting singers and bands to perform nearly nightly. They also plan to add an patio stage in early summer.

“We want to revive the live music scene on Speedway,” said Bujak, a guitar player who was in the Tucson rock band The Spenders when he was in high school in the 1980s. “We are really trying to make it a destination for live music.”

House of Bards — which was been home to Paulo’s Steak and Chop House back in the 1950s and Oliver Twist before Midtown Bar and Grill — is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Live music includes open mic on Mondays and bands playing covers and original music nightly the rest of the week.

  • Over at Tucson Mall, Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar opened on April 13 after five months of renovations at the 8,700-square-foot space at 150 W. Wetmore Road. It had stood vacant since Brio Tuscan Grille pulled out in spring 2013.

Twigs’ menu includes meal-worthy salads, sandwiches and steak, seafood and chicken entrees.

But Twigs’ signature is the 20-plus craft martinis on the cocktail menu.

Twigs is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Details: twigsbistro.com or call 777-4649.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@tucson.com or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch

Cathalena has covered music for the Star for the past 20 years. She's a graduate of Arizona State University has worked at Sedona Red Rock News, Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, New York; and USA Today.