On a sunny afternoon, the light hits just right and the Royal Room, a new downtown wine bar, is made into a kaleidoscope by the rainbow-stained glass windows that line the building. Sparking in the colorful light are a myriad of wine bottles reflected in the diamond-shaped mirrors behind the bar.
The Royal Room, which opened mid-October on the corner of Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue, is inspired after a mid-century European Cafe, complete with black and white tiles and maroon, zebra wallpaper. Framed portraits of painted cats adorn the walls and decorative plants bring life to the space. It's the latest spot in a downtown area that includes Tap & Bottle, Exo Coffee Roasters, Crooked Tooth Brewery and others.
"We thought that it would be a really nice spot for the neighborhood with all the other businesses," said Royal Room owner Ian Stupar.
Stupar has worked in the restaurant industry for 20 years and moved to Tucson two years ago. He, along with partners, owns Pita Jungle franchises in Phoenix. Recently, Stupar took his love of wine to a new level by interning at Dos Cabezas WineWorks in Sonoita, where he learned the intricacies of producing and distributing wine. After the internship, Stupar decided to put his newfound knowledge to good use and open The Royal Room.
"I used to play music in bands," Stupar said, "And it was actually at the suggestion of my mother to get into food as a way to stay creative and make a little bit of money."
This creativity is displayed both in Stupar's full-sleeve tattoos and in the new restaurant. There is an extensive wine list with selections from Arizona, California, South America and Europe, and it is hard for Stupar to pick a favorite.
"I love the Dos Cabezas stuff, of course," Stupar said, "But we also have a couple interesting natural wines which we get from a supplier in town."
Along with the wine selection, The Royal Room also serves beer and is currently featuring Barrio Pumpkin Porter to add some flavors of the season to the menu. The beverage selection has been carefully selected and also has a food menu accompaniment.
"I don't think you need a big fancy meal to drink wine," Stupar said. One of is favorites is a simple ham and cheese sandwich.
"It's great to eat because it is so simple, yet it goes so well with a great glass of wine," Stupar said.
The restaurant also offers a create-your-own charcuterie board where wine drinkers can choose their own pairings and match them precisely to their liking in both taste and amount.
"You can have one type of cheese and a small bowl of olives," Stupar said, "Or you can try 15 different things at once."
As Stupar works out the kinks that come along with opening a new tavern, he's already making some changes, such as opening on Sundays. The Royal Room, 450 N. Sixth Ave., is open for lunch and dinner six days a week, and late night until midnight on the weekends. ■