The Oriental Saloon opened at the intersection of Fifth and Allen streets in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, in the summer of 1880, as news of the mining camp's mineral wealth attracted visionaries and villains, outlaws and lawmen, to the barren Arizona desert. The boom went bust in less than a decade, but the Oriental Saloon was there for all of Tombstone's ups and downs.
On July 22, 1880, the Tombstone Epitaph newspaper reported on the opening of the newest and grandest saloon in town, calling the Oriental "the most elegantly furnished saloon this side of the Golden Gate." It was intended to be a high-class establishment catering to high-rollers, but frontier violence found its way there too: Tombstone diarist George W. Parsons called the Oriental "a regular slaughterhouse," and wrote that "some of the boys will have to be boxed and sent home yet if they don't behave themselves. Faro, whiskey, and bad women will beat anyone."
Acclaimed gunslinger, peace officer, and gambler Wyatt Earp (seated, second from left) arrived in Tombstone in December 1879. A few months after the Oriental Saloon opened, Earp gained control of the lucrative gambling tables and brought in some equally famous friends to help him run the place: Luke Short (standing, second from left) and Bat Masterson (standing, third from left). Another formidable Tombstone gunfighter, "Buckskin Frank" Leslie, was a bartender at the Oriental as well.
Oriental Saloon proprietor Milt Joyce, who also owned a ranch outside Tombstone and served on the Cochise County board of supervisors, closed the Oriental a few years after its triumphant grand opening. He returned to California. The Oriental went into a period of decline as the silver played out and prohibition came. The building served as the local drug store for many years before being purchased and restored by attorney Bob "Bobcat" Cattany in 1970, and today the Cattany family remain the loving guardians of this historic landmark.
In February 2019, R.J. Herrig, owner of the Crystal Palace Saloon, took over the operation of the Oriental Saloon (which had most recently served as a clothing store and souvenir shop), determined to return the historic property to its former glory as the Oriental Saloon. In May 2019, the saloon resumed operation as a full-service bar with authentic Old West hospitality! R.J. and his staff are pleased to welcome you to the new and improved Tombstone landmark, the Oriental Saloon!