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The Hotel Congress

The Hotel Congress, Tucson, Summer 2002 (above); Barb, below left; 80's Night dancers ; the Cup's familiar sign (left). Owners Richard and Shana at The Cup, Winter 2003.

IMAGES: CIA ROMANO 2003

legends / hotel congress

311 East Congress Street, Tucson, 520-622-8848
WEB SITE: www.hotelcongress.com

The grande dame of the downtown scene, dating back to 1919. Due to its general notoriety and its location at a tricky intersection of busy streets, Congress is a touchstone for almost everyone in the Underground. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. But the lovingly restored place calls you back either way. Everyone from Mudhoney to Cracker, L7 to the Makers has played here. Featuring the Tap Room, the Cup Café, the lobby bar and elegant space for private events, it's an axis.

Club denizens 411:

Main-room nights range from national acts to excellent local bands and a couple of packed dance nights (80s Night on Monday and techno on Saturdays). Most nights require cover of usually $3 -$5, more for touring name bands. Larger shows are sometimes held outside.

Drinks and amenities:

The Cup Café and Lobby Bar feature excellent specialty drinks and a decent bar with wine list. Things are a little more informal in the main and Tap Rooms but the bartenders are good and fast. Tip 'em! The Cup Café serves breakfast to dinner with solid and sophisticated entrées. Dinner can be pricey, but worth every penny.

Friendly words of advice:

If you are trying to avoid the college-kid scene, they are most in evidence on Saturday nights. The place has a long memory and good bouncers, so frat-caliber bullshit is discouraged. Everybody has to play nice, even if everyone eventually runs into his or her ex there.

Unique features:

Lovely Southwest Deco murals and lighting fixtures, original fixtures and rich use of wood, metals, and tile. The lobby features frequently changing art exhibitions. And best of all -- if you really can't drive, the historic rooms upstairs are a great option and the key ring, wisely enough, is too large to lose.

Past lives:

Gangster hideaway with a third floor that was lost in a fire. Some employees say the place is haunted.

Management:

Shana and Richard Oseran own and spend a lot of time at the Hotel, which is managed by their son-in-law Todd Hanley; David books the bands.


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