Out with the sound-proof offices resembling London Phone booths and in with a rainbow-splashed bar serving cocktails — on tap.
Welcome to Schmooze 2.0.
Over about five months, the Schmooze Bar & Breakfast team – including owner John Vatistas, managing partner Steve Simonelli, beverage director Jimmy Makura, chef Tony Hamati and Sophia Zori, who also works on the food program at Schmooze – has created a new bar program from scratch.
It’s a 28-tap system featuring 16 hand-crafted kegged cocktails, including classic cocktails, like old fashioneds and manhattans; trending cocktails, like aperol spritzes and hard seltzers; and custom creations, like their pomegranate mezcal made with Agave de Cortes Joven Mezcal.
They also have wine and beer available.
But it’s their twist on Truly that is sure to attract customers.
“We’ve actually created a way to flavor it, so we have more flavors than Truly actually does — and it actually tastes better,” Simonelli claimed.
Schmooze’s flavors include peach, cherry, plum, cranberry, and mint chocolate chip.
Simonelli said they infused unflavored Truly-branded hard seltzer with their own sugar-free flavors, giving customers a “guilt-free alcoholic beverage.”
“It’s not rocket science what we did, but we did find a way to keep it still sugar-free. We’re still playing around with it to have the different flavors,” he added.
The flashy bar is complete with artwork and UV bar tops created by Leila Joon, a Scottsdale-based artist and manager of her family’s business, Parnian Furniture, a high-end luxury contemporary furniture store in the Scottsdale Airpark.
As of Jan. 16, Schmooze extended its Thursday through Saturday bar hours from 5-9 p.m.
They’re calling the program "Schmooze After Dark."
“The bar program has launched with what we see as the newest and most innovative trends yet to hit the market,” Simonelli said. “Nobody’s doing it to the level that we are.”
Simonelli said the idea for cocktails on tap was inspired by a bar on the east coast.
“A place in Brooklyn has 30 on tap. That’s really the largest one that I’ve seen in the country,” he said.
They then worked with distributors to create the flavor profiles they wanted.
“It’s a total science, and that’s why a lot of places aren’t doing it,” Simonelli said.
“Because they all are in kegs, we have to agitate the kegs and make sure everything is properly mixed, that the ratios and the balance is there. This program is not only just bad-ass, we have more cocktails on tap than anyone in Arizona,” he explained.
Cocktails range in price from $10 to $14, and Simonelli said they plan to rotate the cocktails seasonally.
One of the benefits of cocktails on tap, according to Simonelli, is that they’re quick pours.
“Being from New York, I like things fast. You’re not waiting 10, 15 minutes for a drink, especially a perfectly well-balanced drink. You’re getting [it in] 50 seconds, 40 seconds,” he said.
So far, they’ve received positive feedback.
“The feedback is unreal,” Simonelli said. “We have some luxury, high-end real estate agents who are very particular and specific as am I about my cocktails.”
The bar isn’t the only new addition to the Schmooze space, though.
The kitchen boasts new equipment too. And, Simonelli adds, "We are a full-blown restaurant and the space has added booths, a wrap-around bar near the kitchen, and one more long community table will be placed near the bar. We just constantly knock down walls, expand, build a bar, build a back patio, and build new conference rooms,”
The name changed, too.
Formerly called, "Schmooze Workspace & Cafe," the space is now, "Schmooze Bar & Breakfast."
“[John wanted] ‘bar’ first because that encompasses having longer operating hours. [And], so many want amazing breakfast,” Simonelli said.
Schmooze was born out of Vatistas’ desire for an upscale café-meets-workspace.
At the time, he saw a significant need for a quality workspace for entrepreneurs and remote workers who are on the go.
“He wanted to create a space that he was comfortable in that had outlets everywhere, the Wi-Fi was fast enough, great food, great service,” Simonelli said. “He’s big on aesthetics. He designed this whole space.”
Vatistas’ instinct was right.
According to a FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics report, there was a 159 percent increase in remote work between 2005 to 2017.
Schmooze opened in April 2018.
Nearly two years later, Schmooze continues to expand on its services.
This year, they’d also like to introduce brunch to the menu as well as host special events, like wine dinners, and offer catering.