[Source: Richard Ruelas, Arizona Republic] — Five years ago, people thought Johnny Chu was nuts to close down his successful Tempe restaurant and open one in downtown Phoenix. “A lot of investors dropped out,” Chu said, including a member of his own family. “My uncle tried to talk me out of it.” But Chu’s investment in Phoenix’s city center has paid off. And he has doubled down, opening two more spots within the same square mile. “Downtown has grown faster than I expected it,” he said, touring his new place, Sens, an Asian tapas and sake bar that opens early next month.
Sens joins Chu’s original downtown Phoenix restaurant, Fate, and the outdoor martini bar adjacent to Fate called Next Door. All three bring a much-needed pulse to the heart of the nation’s fifth-largest city. “It’s been asleep for 22 years. Up until 2005, nobody would be walking at night,” Chu said. His wife, Linda, added, “They’d run.”
All three Chu restaurants have opened in what had been abandoned buildings. Fate took over a brick house along Fourth Street, just south of Roosevelt Street. Next Door took the plywood off the windows at the house next door. Sens takes a spot in what used to be a business plaza hidden behind thick wrought-iron gates. They’re the kinds of buildings people pass every day, without a thought to their potential. “You really don’t pay attention to the beauty,” Chu said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]