What’s in a name? At McCool’s it translates to good food, good music, good fun for the whole family

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At McCool’s Bar and Grill, the name isn’t just a fabrication. The owners are longtime Kyrene Corridor residents Craig and Connie McCool.

So if you’re looking to support a true mom-and-pop operation, and one that’s extra “cool,” this could be your place.

“One of us is always here,” Craig McCool said. “If I’ve got to bartend, I’ll bartend. I’ll help serve.”

He got the idea to open a rock ‘n’ roll-themed neighborhood bar when he saw that the space (formerly Wild Hare) was available.

The location on the corner of Ray and Rural roads, fronting Ray, and a giant patio were key selling points.

McCool’s opened for business on June 11, 2009, as a place for locals to listen to good music and enjoy high quality, chef-prepared food with upscale presentations, along with drinks.

“It’s a vast improvement over what it was,” said customer Elwyn Jones of Chandler. “Much more gloss to it and sophistication.”

The food is great, he added, and he likes the friendly owners and staff (McCool’s employs eight, not including McCool and his wife).

It’s the kind of place people can bring wives and children and not feel out of place – in fact, kids eat free on Wednesdays. While it’s definitely a bar atmosphere, McCool wanted it to be a place for the whole family.

“I bring my kids here,” he said. His daughter, Maya, 10, attends C.I. Waggoner Elementary School, and son Zach, 5, starts there in the fall.

After about 9 or 10 p.m., McCool’s is more of an adult scene, but it’s not rowdy.

“You don’t have to deal with the drunken bar scene here,” McCool said.

But it’s not tame, either, due to lively music at all hours. McCool, who used to sing for a local rock band called Can’t Stay Sober, is “rock ‘n’ roll, tried-and-true,” he said. He started playing guitar at age 13 and was a disc jockey at nightclubs for more than a decade.

Slightly alternative hard rock usually plays on the sound system; McCool’s favorites include Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction and Green Day. Pictures of rock stars from Jim Morrison to Ozzy Osbourne decorate the walls, as do rows of guitars.

However, Thursdays are open mic nights, which attract musicians playing everything from the bagpipes to the banjo; Saturdays are strictly blues, with eight bands in rotation to help ensure that the sound is always fresh.

On Wednesdays in early February, he began weekly “learn to play craps” lessons, replacing poker night, which was getting tired. And he offers daily $5 food specials that usually consist of a sandwich and salad, soup or fries. On Tuesdays, for instance, it’s an Angus burger; on Wednesdays, it’s ham and Swiss.

In addition, Mondays he sells $1 tacos from 1-4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close. All Mexican beers are $2 all the time, in deference to McCool’s love for Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where he and his family enjoy spending their free time.

Cheese curds and pork tenderloin sandwiches also are on the menu as a nod to the McCools’ Midwestern roots.

Happy hour is particularly happy, because it runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. It includes $2 domestic drafts, $2.75 well drinks, $3 house wines and $4 appetizers.

McCool’s Bar and Grill: Where: 4910 W. Ray Road, Chandler. Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday. Information: 480-289-4222; mccoolsbarandgrill.com .

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