After serving 18 years as one of the only 18-and-up bars on the Square, The Levee is rebranding as Tango’s and will only allow entrance to people who are 21 years old and older.
Levee part-owner Griffin Tanner said he wanted to create something new after buying out his longtime business partners. Even with the change in age restriction, Tanner said he is not concerned that the bar will lose business.
“We hope that if we work hard and have a great product — both food and entertainment — it will help us move to the top,” Tanner said.
The renovated bar will offer an LED dance floor and a 120-inch TV wall for watching sports.
The announcement has left many students shocked because The Levee was a popular bar among students, especially underclassmen.
Grace Stevenson, a sophomore, said the closing of The Levee marks the end of an era.
“I think The Levee was almost a rite of passage for freshman,” she said. “They had to go to The Levee because it was the best 18-and-older bar before graduating to the other bars when they turned 21.”
The Levee was one of the only bars that still allowed patrons 18 years and older, along with the Annex and Rooster’s. This leaves little nightlife available where underclassmen can participate legally.
Freshman Jennifer Nyguen, a freshman, said she is sad The Levee will no longer exist, and she thinks that changes like this are encouraging students to seek out fake IDs.
“They should make more 18 and up bars because it discourages illegal behavior like buying a fake ID,” Nyguen said. “The Levee closing will also make Annex and Rooster’s a lot busier.
Tanner said running a 21-and-up bar will be less complicated than an 18-and-up bar.
“I think that it is easier to maintain and remove any unwanted negativity,” Tanner said. “We love being a dance club and providing entertainment for all ages and may still do some shows that will be open to (people) under 21.”
Tango’s will still be open to minors for food before 10 p.m., but it will start enforcing the new age restriction after the kitchen closes.
In addition to the age restriction, Tango’s is focusing on its cuisine in an attempt to be regarded as more than just a bar. Tanner enlisted Clint Boutwell, a local restaurateur of Oxford Grillehouse and Julep, to create a menu for Tango’s.
“We are opening a new concept and will focus on food and atmosphere,” Tanner said. “We are excited to bring this new concept to Oxford.”
According to Tanner, Tango’s will announce its opening on its social media. He estimated it will open in a few weeks.
This comes months after the Mississippi Alcohol and Beverage Control suspended The Levee’s alcohol sales from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23.
The Levee was the third establishment on the Square to receive a suspension last year, the first two being City Grocery and Bouré in July.
The recent suspensions follow the implementation of the Alcohol Ordinance that The Board of Aldermen voted into effect in September 2018. The ordinance passed after several months of debate about whether the ordinance reflected a racial bias, invaded personal privacy or would realistically solve the problem of underage drinking on the Square.
Last year, Tanner said he had been to restaurants around Oxford that seem to not be complying even though the deadline has passed. He also said that while he doesn’t believe his larger bars are being unjustly targeted for arrests or police walkthroughs, the size of the bar has a major effect on the number of fire marshal and OPD visits.