Desert Ridge's Copper Blues Live bar was the test case for "Sip and Stroll."
Arizona is out to make shopping an inebriating experience thanks to a new law that goes into effect next week.
Beginning January 12, shopping centers with at least 400,000 sq. ft. of gross leasing area will be able to obtain licenses that allow customers to leave bars and restaurants and explore the properties with pints and Pina Coladas in hand.
A bill passed by the Arizona legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey in 2019 created a weekends-only pilot program for drinking-and-shopping, which The Copper Blues Live bar at Phoenix’s Desert Ridge Marketplace participated in.
The actual law going into effect next week allows center owners to expand the policy to five days a week during afternoon and evening hours.
Desert Ridge and Tempe Marketplace, both owned and operated by Vestar, will be the first to implement what’s being called the “Sip and Stroll” law. Desert Ridge is a 1.2 million-sq.-ft open-air center with a dining and entertainment area called The District that has an outdoor gathering area for visitors.
Vestar boasts that Desert Ridge is the most-visited shopping center in Arizona. Other tenants there include Kohl's, AMC Theaters, Dave & Buster's, H&M, Barnes & Noble, Ross, and Old Navy.
“This program is so unique and innovative,” Desert Ridge marketing director Katie Hauptman told News 12 in Phoenix. “Our goal at Desert Ridge Marketplace and Tempe Marketplace is to create one-of-a-kind experiences for our guests, and so we really think this program just enhances everything that we do.”
Aside from bars and restaurants, the law allows center operators to serve drinks at other areas on their properties that are away from roads and parking lots. It also encourages them to enhance security with signage, physical barriers, and electronic surveillance.
Center operators wishing to take part in the Sip and Stroll program must submit their plans to local cities, towns, and counties and undergo a 60-day review process.
Vestar, which maintains corporate offices in Phoenix and Los Angeles, began promotin the Sip and Stroll effort in 2016 by hiring a lobbyist and urging local and state officials to try a pilot program.