SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Riot Hospitality Group and Spellbound Entertainment Group, who each own multiple bars, restaurants, and nightlife destinations within Scottsdale's Entertainment District, have merged and are now owned by the same company.
Riot Hospitality Group is behind Riot House, Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row, and El Hefe, as well as Farm & Craft, a health-focused restaurant, and Hand Cut Burgers + Chophouse near the Scottsdale Waterfront.
Riot is also developing Seven, the poolside bar and lounge at the Caesars Republic Scottsdale, Caesars' first non-gaming hotel, which is under construction north of Scottsdale Fashion Square mall.
Spellbound Entertainment Group, which was previously known as Triyar Entertainment Group and has owned nightclubs in Scottsdale for years, is behind a handful of popular spots, such as The District, Maya Day/Night Club, Clubhouse at Maya, W Hotel, and the now-closed Dakota nightclub.
The owners of both groups -- Shawn Yari and Steven Yari, of Spellbound, and Ryan Hibbert, of Riot -- formed their own company, called "Culinary Culture," and merged in December 2019, according to Lissa Druss, spokesperson for Riot Hospitality Group.
"RHG’s amazing Corporate team, with newly added top-notch professionals from Spellbound Entertainment, have come together to continue their innovative work at all RHG locations...while continuing to exceed current safety recommendations," Druss said in a recent email to ABC15.
"These changes allow RHG to bring its premier customer service and superior entertainment experience to even more Arizona residents," the statement read.
Exactly what the merger means for both companies, for their concepts, and the Entertainment District overall, if anything, was not necessarily clear.
Druss declined to answer follow-up questions in an email and deferred to the earlier statement and said none of the company's founders were available for interviews.
Riot Hospitality's marketing director did not return an email from ABC15 and the director of operations at Spellbound deferred comment to Druss.
As a result of the pandemic, Riot has closed its Tempe locations of El Hefe and Dierks Bentley's Whiskey Row.
Steve and Shawn Yari, who founded Spellbound Entertainment, are also managing partners at Stockdale Capital Partners, a real estate investment firm based in Los Angeles, California, that owns several buildings and properties in Scottsdale, including the W Hotel, Scottsdale Galleria, and the newly-renovated and rebranded Aloft Hotel (formerly the Indigo Hotel).
They are looking to redevelop Scottsdale's Entertainment District, where they own several buildings, properties, and concepts.
Last week, they received initial approval from Scottsdale's Development Review Board regarding an extensive, multi-phased proposal to develop the Entertainment District, called the "Scottsdale Collection," which would add hotels, restaurants and stores, more public art, create an open community space, as well as beautify the landscaping, walking paths, and attempt to create better connectivity with Old Town, Scottsdale Waterfront, and Scottsdale Fashion Square.
The 264-page proposal is a master plan of ideas and concepts of what the future of the Entertainment District could look like, and leaves open the realistic possibility that aspects could change as construction projects become solidified and finalized.
Jason Rose, president of Rose+Moser+Allyn Public & Online Relations, who is handling PR for the project, said Scottsdale Collection and the company merger are completely separate deals, noting that he had no information regarding the merger.
Under the proposed renovation, there are three main areas that would be redeveloped: a chunk of office buildings on the northwest corner of Scottsdale and Camelback roads, referred to as City Center, the site of the now-closed Dakota nightclub along Buckboard Trail, and the land where The Mint nightclub, also closed, sits along Camelback Road.
For the land on the corner of Scottsdale and Camelback roads, referred to as City Center in the plans, and currently home to various commercial buildings, the idea would be to create "a new gateway destination for Old Town," according to the proposal.
Some buildings would be demolished to make way for new buildings, potentially a residential tower, commercial office space, a hotel, or space for restaurants, as well as a large open area for community programs, public art, and water features.
A 165-room hotel, called "The Maya Hotel," could be built within the entertainment district and would replace Dakota nightclub and the office building that sits along Buckboard Trail, according to the proposal.
Concept art shows there could be space for a restaurant, street-level commercial spaces, an outdoor balcony, rooftop features, and parking.
The Mint nightclub would be demolished and the land could be used to house another hotel, more restaurants, retail space, residential housing, and office space, or a combination of it all.
Some of the existing bars and restaurants, businesses, and nightclubs that are already within the district would remain there.
If approved, the project would happen in at least three phases with each section being its own phase. It would also take years, potentially three to five years, to complete, said Rose.
The overall project still has to be discussed and approved by the planning commission, which is scheduled for November and then will be proposed to the city council, which is scheduled for December.
You can watch the presentation of the project before the development review board below: