Originally Published: November 17, 1997
Author: Martha Netherton
It all started one day during Little League practice. Valley entrepreneur Brian Weymouth approached fellow coach and rock star Alice Cooper -- and a high-level executive meeting occurred right there on the field.
Weymouth: "We ought to be doing a restaurant around the ballpark."
Cooper: "That sounds great. What would we call it?"
Weymouth: "Cooper'stown, Alice Cooper'stown."
Cooper: "I'm in."
This week, a partnership led by Weymouth, Cooper and other deep-pocket investors signed a 39-year lease to occupy the old Western Wholesale Drug Co. warehouse building at the southeast corner of First and Jackson streets in downtown Phoenix.
"It will be the Taj Mahal of sports bars," Cooper said this week, adding that the restaurant marks his first business venture in the Valley.
The restaurant's sports theme will focus on baseball as well as other professional sports and will feature all kinds of sports memorabilia from famous players, including baseball greats Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb.
There's also a place for rock " roll, and Cooper will be putting together a house band as well as providing space for musically-inclined athletes who want to perform.
The restaurant, which will open in the spring, will have a western barbecue theme.
"This is going to be Western barbecue, and it's going to be great," Cooper said. "We will be wafting the best barbecue smell you've ever smelled onto the street."
If the restaurant/sports bar is as successful as the principals think it will be, the concept will spread to other Major League Baseball cities such as Cleveland, Seattle, Denver and Detroit. Weymouth said it's likely another deal will be inked in Cleveland or Detroit by early spring.
"This is home for me," Cooper said. "We want to make Phoenix the most special one. It will be state of the art with home cooking."
Weymouth said partners of Celebrity Restaurants LLC saw an opportunity to capitalize on the crowds that now gather at America West Arena and will flock to Bank One Ballpark when the Arizona Diamondbacks begin play this spring.
"We felt a combination of sports and rock " roll into a facility that can provide entertainment as well as great food and fun would be very successful next to these two major generators," Weymouth said. "This will be the showpiece of sports restaurants in this town. There's nothing else even close."
The name Alice Cooper'stown is a play on words of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. While the real Cooperstown symbolizes the ultimate of honors to baseball's elite, the Cooper'stown sports bar will give players a few select honors of their own -- call it the bloopers of baseball.
"We will have our own Hall of Fame inductee ceremonies where we induct individuals that may have done the wild, the weird and the wacky," Weymouth said. "It may just be a guy who made a bizarre play."
Weymouth also said the restaurant should serve as a gathering place for athletes, musicians and celebrities. "The neat thing about this celebrity restaurant is that the celebrity it's named after is such a sports nut he'll be there all the time," he said.
"I'm the biggest sports nut in Arizona," he said. "I'd love to have a place to take my buddies after the game. We're creating a place where people can feel at home. We sort of want it to be the clubhouse for guys around town."
The $2.7 million project has been designed by Habitat Inc., and Hardison Downey Construction Inc. will serve as general contractor. Logos are being designed by Greg Fisher of Campbell Fisher Ditko Design. California businessman Jim Ganzer will handle all merchandise that will be sold from Alice Cooper'stown, Weymouth said.