For nearly a quarter century, late-night crawlers made their way into the Red Room at Grill downtown.
They chased off the last-call munchies with Grill's signature Tater Tots and pesto dressing and settled in for the near nightly jam sessions in the Red Room's beer-stained nook of hipster rock noisiness.
"It's like being in someone's living room. There were always random jam sessions going on," regular Clariza Clark said Monday, as word quickly spread on Twitter and Facebook that the iconic greasy spoon was closing.
The Red Room at Grill, a 24-7 eatery and hangout, is expected to close at midnight today, a victim of a bruising economy and the owners' burnout.
"We're just done, out of money," said owner Patrick Forsythe, who has had the restaurant for a dozen years with his wife, Lori McCoy-Forsythe. "We've been looking to get out of this for years because we were just worn out."
People are also reading…
Every summer, the couple rolls the dice and takes a chance that they will make enough money to keep the business going. Usually in the fall, when University of Arizona students and winter visitors return, business picks back up.
But this summer was more devastating than most.
"We had a horrible summer," Forsythe said, with the business bringing in about $1,100 a day in sales - less than half of the daily average of $2,500.
"This last August was the worst month ever in the 12 years we've been here. We had to take out a loan to bail ourselves out," he said. "We roll the dice every season, but it's just time."
Forsythe said he and his wife on Sunday morning looked over the business's bills owed, bills paid and money in the bank, and decided they had no choice but to close. They told employees in the afternoon.
The building's owner, Myung Soo, said she is talking to a prospective tenant who will continue operating a restaurant in the space at 100 E. Congress St. The building has been home to a diner of sorts since the 1930s.
Clark, 42, has long turned to Grill for late-night eats.
"It's not going to ever be the same. There are, obviously, a lot of other phenomenal restaurants downtown, but that just had its own feel, that grungy diner feel," she said.
"It's heartbreaking," added former Grill owner James Graham, who bought the business with his wife, Julia Latané, in 1994. "It was such an institution, and it doesn't get the credit it deserves for bringing businesses to downtown."
Graham, 49, ran the restaurant for four years before selling it to Forsythe and moving to Los Angeles in the late 1990s.