Warner/McClintock neighborhood getting bistro-bar with patio this month after all

Freely Taproom & Kitchen, a family-style restaurant and a full bar that features two-dozen tap beers in a 2,500-square-foot facility with large, east-facing, pet-friendly patio, is now scheduled to open at 1730 E. Warner Road, Suite 11, on Sept. 23.  –Photos by Lee Shappell for wranglernews.com

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Were you distraught and crestfallen when ground was broken in June on an oil-change business at the southeastern corner of Warner Road and McClintock Drive?

If you were among the hundreds who had campaigned to Tempe City Council for a dining/night spot at the intersection, take heart.

Neighbors near Warner Road and McClintock Drive said they wanted a bistro with a patio. They’re getting one, on the northwestern corner of the intersection, when Freely Taproom & Kitchen opens late this month.

Freely Taproom & Kitchen plans to bring family-style plates and a full bar that features two-dozen tap beers to 1730 E. Warner Road, Suite 11, on the northwestern corner of Warner and McClintock, across the intersection from the oil-change pit.

The 2,500-square-foot bar and kitchen with large, east-facing, pet-friendly patio now is slated to open Sept. 23, a delay from its initial projected Aug. 15 opening, according to a countdown timer on its website.

It is the type of gathering spot that neighbors have said for years they desire in the area.

Paul Gillingwater of O.H.S.O. Brewery & Distilling fame, and who grew up on a vineyard in California, is behind the venture.

Workers apply final touches to the patio at Freely Taproom & Kitchen, now scheduled to open Sept. 23.

A casual vibe that invites neighbors to come and hang out will be reflected in Freely’s industrial-style décor and wood tones.

By fall, Gillingwater plans to introduce a “boozy brunch.” Farther down the line, he hopes to open a bottle shop stocked with at least 80 brands of bottled and canned beer as well as about 60 brands of fine wines that can be purchased for takeout.

The new shop might appease neighbors who hoped that the gold liquid flowing across the street would not be 10W30. Instead of selecting a varietal of wine, their choice will be weight of motor oil, which does not pair nicely with their angst. After years of full-bodied opposition, on June 28 Diversified Partners and owner Walt Brown began work on Take 5 Oil Change on the lot at 8805 S. McClintock Drive. So much for a wine bar-bistro there.

Neighbors thought they’d won when Tempe City Council on Nov. 7, 2019 denied Brown‘s appeal of a Sept. 24, 2019 Development Review Commission’s denial of his use permit and development-plan review.

Work is under way at Take 5 Oil Change, 8805 S. McClintock Drive at Warner Road, which neighbors fought against unsuccessfully.

After the council’s slap-down, Brown filed a notice of claim against the city for $2.1 million plus legal fees, followed by a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court. A negotiated settlement with Tempe in May 2020 granted Brown and Diversified a use permit and development-plan review that allows the oil-change shop on the property, which is zoned for such a use.

Brown claimed that his proposal met every city requirement, yet the City Council had rejected it unanimously, due largely to the scope and passion of neighbors’ opposition. Of 772 respondents to a Development Review Commission representing 11 south Tempe neighborhoods in the 85283 and 85284 ZIP codes, 96.9 percent opposed his plan.

Walt Brown

In denying Brown’s appeal, City Council members had said they were moved by the overwhelming opposition of the neighborhood, before they reversed course and agreed to settle Brown’s lawsuit.

Now, Brown will have his oil-change business and neighbors will have their night-life hangout with a large patio at the same intersection.

More information: freelytaproom.com.

Lee Shappell
Lee Shappell became a journalist because he didn’t become a rocket scientist! He exhausted the math courses available by his junior year in high school and earned early admission to Rice University, intending to take advantage of its relationship with the Johnson Space Center and become an aerospace engineer. But as a high school senior, needing a class to be eligible for sports with no more math available, he took student newspaper as a credit and was hooked. He studied journalism at the UofA and has been senior reporter, copy desk chief and managing editor at several Valley publications.


  1. Nice to see the Fremont going in . I would imagine that the overwhelming NON support for the oil change business it will be very hard for them to be successful .


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