Hanny’s infuses downtown Phoenix with classic fare in a historic building

[Source: Michele Laudig, Phoenix New Times] — Finally, something to cheer about.  In a city where preservationists have new reasons to gripe all the time — sharp mid-century homes getting razed to make way for McMansions, architecturally significant buildings being bulldozed so somebody can slap up another generic bank or strip mall — there’s good news about at least one historic building.  Better yet, it’s right downtown.  And the icing on the cake?  It’s home to a new restaurant called Hanny’s.

Like its stark International Style building façade, Hanny’s all-day menu is streamlined, featuring just a handful of starters, pizzas, sandwiches, and salads.  It’s well-crafted, affordable fare that’s perfect for a light lunch, an informal dinner, a happy hour snack, or a late-night nosh — not destination dining by any stretch, but considering the beautifully restored surroundings and the sheer character that this place brings to the area, it’s still a Phoenix destination.

Hanny’s has quite a story.  It’s named after businessman Vic Hanny’s “Distinguished Store for Men and Women” originally located there, a place where generations of Phoenicians shopped for designer-label clothing.  After the store was shuttered in the ’80s, the circa 1947 Hanny’s building sat vacant, occasionally getting torched by the fire department to train firefighters.  It was added to the Phoenix Historic Property Register in 2005, the same year the city negotiated with restaurateur Karl Kopp (owner of Scottsdale’s AZ88, as well as spots in Milwaukee and Manhattan) to exchange it for a building he owned on Central Avenue. City officials wanted to acquire Kopp’s property as part of the planned ASU Downtown Campus; Kopp was willing to bring the historic Hanny’s building back to its vintage grandeur.

Three years and $5 million later, Hanny’s is a well-polished modernist gem.  Artist Janis Leonard — known for her cheeky, rotating installations at AZ88 — designed the spare, elegant interior, where charcoal-colored banquettes line the perimeter, chocolate leather chairs hug smooth granite-topped tables, and soft uplighting emphasizes dramatically high ceilings (high enough to have a curvy mezzanine overlooking the dining room).  Everything gleams, from terrazzo floors to the bar in the middle of the space, where a bright red meat slicer sits like a candy apple behind glass.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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