[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix native Dana Mule had spent 15 frustrating months trying to find an ideal spot to open his Hawaiian-inspired eatery when he stumbled upon a funky building along the Central Avenue light-rail line. Mule had been driving for years by the uptown Phoenix structure, which housed Heap Big Beef sandwiches in the 1960s and more recently a flower shop. As a kid, he had named it after the “Star Wars” spacecraft, Tie Fighter, because of its large iconic hexagonal window.
Now, Mule and his two California business partners are in the midst of a massive $1 million remodel, nearly doubling the size of the building to 2,900 square feet. The expansion and renovation will allow seating for up to 125, including an indoor bar and outdoor patio area. “It’s been a helluva process,” said Mule, standing in the shell of what in August will debut as Hula’s Modern Tiki. “We looked at 50 locations in Phoenix before we found a place we really loved. This has the soul and character and community-based support that we were looking for.”
Uptown Phoenix, once home to dilapidated strip malls and run-down lots, is enjoying a revival of sorts. With light rail cutting straight through the central Phoenix district, more than a dozen new businesses have sprouted in the neighborhood near Camelback Road and Central Avenue from coffee shops and restaurants to an organic pet store. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]