Another Route 66 icon has closed its doors in Flagstaff, but hopefully not for long.
The Museum Club, also affectionately known as “The Zoo,” announced on Facebook Monday a last call for drinks before the doors closed at 7 p.m. and the business was put up for sale. The land and the building is still owned by the Zanzucchi family and is not for sale.
The Zanzucchis leased the building to the two business partners that operated the country music bar and honky tonk. Mary Butwinick, one of the partners in the business, said that a number of things both inside and outside of the business contributed to the closure. The other business partner is Bret Rios.
“Many of them were not in our control,” she said.
The club is located several miles east of the main bar scene in downtown Flagstaff, bringing the building up to current fire and health codes was expensive, prices for drinks hadn’t changed in years and it was hard to increase them to meet current needs. It was also a small music venue, which made ticket prices to live music events expensive, she said.
“All the pieces just fell into place, there was just too many that were against us. It was a business decision,” Butwinick said.
But she’s glad that she could be a part of the history of the building and was able to bring back some of the old glory of the building.
Butwinick, who has family in the Flagstaff area, said she’s always had a fondness for the 1930s era building, which began life as a taxidermy shop and museum. It became a night club in 1936 and then spent some time as a recording studio and a roadhouse before being sold again in 1963 to Don and Thorna Scott and turned into a country music dance hall.
The Zanzucchi family purchased it in 1978 and then sold the bar and music business to Brandon Tullis and his family in 2005, but the Zanzucchis kept the title to the property.
When Butwinick and Rios saw the business was up for sale, they bought it from Tullis. They closed the sale in March and started on a facelift for the historic building including a new back patio, replacing the worn floors and upholstery and trying to bring back some of the classic country music bands.
Martin Zanzucchi said he’s stayed out of the business side of things since 2005 and didn’t know the circumstances behind the sale of the business, but he hopes whoever the new owners are that they have a fondness for country music and the building.
“I don’t think it will be closed long. Someone will come and pick it up. It’s that kind of building,” Butwinick said.
Buyers interested in buying the historic music hall and bar business from Butwinick and Rios can contact Rios at email@example.com. For more on the Museum Club and its place in Route 66 and Flagstaff lore, see Sunday’s Arizona Daily Sun.