Unlike many restaurants and bars, Rula Bula had successfully survived the coronavirus pandemic and was well-positioned to continue to thrive post-pandemic. To its surprise, Rula Bula owners were informed by their new out-of-state landlord that Rula Bula would not be given an opportunity to renew their lease.
Rula Bula’s owner did request a 30-100 year lease for the historic saddlery shop pub to remain in the historic Andre Building which was built as a saddlery and harness shop in 1888. However, the landlord did not respond to his request. Rula Bula was built by Irish Craftsmen and made to last 100 years. The owner’s request is in keeping with that Irish tradition like the Guinness Brewery Dublin Ireland that has a 9,000-year lease.
Instead, the landlord announced the space was leased to someone else and that they had to be out of the space by the end of June. This is far less time than is required to pack up and move Rula Bula to a new location. Rula Bula is now forced into a situation where they must shut their historic Mill Avenue doors for good.
A FINAL TOAST
Rula Bula is more than an Irish pub. It is featured in The Iron Druid book series by author Kevin Hearne. It has been a recipient of 40-plus awards including one from Trip Advisor with the Stellar recognition of being in the top three percent out of two million restaurants nationwide. It has been awarded the Great Guinness Award by the famed Irish brewery for achieving notable standards. It is the place where American hero and football great Pat Tillman hung out and where Rula Bula became the home of fundraisers for the Tillman Foundation including Pints for Pat and the Pat’s Run. The pub has also been recognized by the Historic Society of Carlow, Tempe’s sister city in Ireland.
We have launched this GoFundMe website to raise funds to help Rula Bula transition the business as well as to assist dedicated staff financially, and aid the local community including the homeless and veterans’ charities.
The pub’s founders and owners are grateful for the outpouring of community support. They are doing everything they can to take care of their staff being forced out of their jobs, some of whom have been with the company for 15 or more years.
THE RULA BULA STORY
Guinness, music, literature, its people and original pubs have been some of Ireland’s greatest commodities. An Irish pub is not just a bar or restaurant. In Ireland, the pub is at the heart of social life. It is a community gathering place for friends and musicians. A true Irish pub is distinguished by its “craic,” an Irish term referring to positive interaction among people through conversation, stories and music. To create an atmosphere of “craic” our pub is uniquely designed to offer a meeting place for good conversation, live Irish entertainment, good food and, of course, the perfect pint of Guinness.
Choosing the right name for our pub was extremely important. We wanted our name to tell a lot about the pub experience and, after studying many names, cities in Ireland and pub culture, we decided on Rúla Búla. Taken from the Irish Gaelic language expression "rí rá agus ruaille buaille" it translates to "uproar and commotion" in the context of a celebratory and fun time. We phoneticized the expression into Rúla Búla to simplify pronunciation in English. We felt Rúla Búla was an appropriate selection for the upbeat, fun image the City of Tempe portrays. Particularly on Mill Avenue, which is often, open only to foot traffic during the many festivities that take place throughout the year.
Rúla Búla is located in the historic Andre Building in downtown Tempe. R.G. Andre, a skilled saddlemaker, was a prominent businessman in Tempe. Long ago, before statehood, when Arizona was a pioneer town. While living in Phoenix, he built a Victorian-styled commercial building on Mill Avenue in 1888 and opened a saddlery and harness shop. In 1893 he moved to Tempe, Andre later joined with M. Mertz, who became his partner in Andre and Mertz, a store specializing in harnesses, saddlery and vehicles. Rúla Búla pays tribute to Captain Andre with an Irish saddlery-styled pub, which contains many of the bric-a-brac, flooring, lighting and interior design elements reflective of those more than 100 years ago in Ireland.
Rula Bula kept with that tradition with all the woodwork being built in the traditional way just as it has been done for generations using hand tools and skills. In Ireland, a merchant’s shop would often double as a pub. A corner of the shop would be set aside for this very purpose. Customers would sit, sip Guinness and converse surrounded by shelves of merchandise. Irish pubs are a retreat from the real world and at the heart of Rúla Búla is the ready smile, the invitation to relax and enjoy good conversation, great food and drink, hospitality and humour. In a word—craic.
Thank you to our patrons and staff. We are heartbroken that this is our reality. A Mill Avenue without Rula Bula is a tragic loss for the Tempe community. Thank you to our patrons over the past decades who brought to life an authentic Irish pub built to last 100 years. Please share any of your favorite Rula Bula memories on this page so that we can remember the best of times.