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Closing of Greasewood Flat marks end of an era in Scottsdale

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — This week marks the end of an era in north Scottsdale.

Greasewood Flat is shutting down.

Owner Justin Cavalliere’s grandfather, Doc Cavalliere opened the restaurant in 1975 in what was then a remote desert area of north Scottsdale along Alma School Road, north of Happy Valley Road.

“My grandpa was a product of the old west,” said Justin. “He was born in Scottsdale in 1916, and truly embodied the West. You can’t help but think of the West when you come to Greasewood Flat.”

The place has an outdoor dance floor, rustic wagons, corrals, old cars and more. Justin has owned the place for six years, but Greasewood Flat will close on Tuesday night.

“We wanted to keep operating, but there were some issues when my grandfather died, and we did not control the land,” said Justin. “A trustee bank controlled the land, and they sold the land (to developers) against our wishes.”

One of the things Greasewood Flat is famous for are the dollar bills that customers have hung from the ceiling over the years. Justin said there’s a story behind the bucks.

“The dollar bills started this way. You could come in and say ‘times are pretty good.'” He said. “You could write your name on the dollar and put it behind the bar, so that when times were bad, you’d have a dollar to buy a drink.”

Those bills will be raffled off as part of an auction, which will be held on April 11. Estimates on how much money is hanging from the ceiling and walls range from $2,000 to $10,000. You can buy a raffle ticket at the restaurant through Tuesday night.

All kinds of other Greasewood Flat equipment and memorabilia will be sold at the auction.

The restaurant plans to “brand” all of its’ tables with the words “Greasewood Flat” and sell them in the auction. All of the proceeds from the auction will benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Bidding registration and more information is available online.

Justin Cavalliere stresses that the family is not selling the business. It is retaining the rights to the name Greasewood Flat, and would like to reopen the restaurant in another location.

“I don’t know that it will be in Scottsdale. It may be somewhere in northern Arizona,” he said. “It would be kind of fun to tuck it away again (in a remote area away from a city). Kind of like my Grandpa did when it first opened, where it was kind of more of a destination before the city encroached up here and built all of these houses.”

Justin said he is going to miss all of the wonderful people that have come in to the place over the years. But he is also ready for the future.

“I’m really going to miss this place. It’s hard for me to talk about it, because it has been my whole life,” he said.

“But you have to push forward. If you live in the past, you’re never going to get anywhere.”