Category Archives: Locally-Owned Businesses
The University of Arizona’s Start Smart lecture series continues at The Good Egg on Camelback with a presentation by Kimber Lanning, the director of Local First Arizona, on “The Upside of a Down Economy: Buying Locally.”
David Johnson from Oakville Grocery says that this will be the first grocery store downtown stocking essentials for the community. Johnson says the store will have a coffee bar, pastries, handmade sandwiches, salads, soups, grab-and-go items, milk, eggs and other groceries, specialty products, wine, beer and more.
Johnson also shares their significant local product program and plan to source as many local products as possible for the new store. Johnson says 200 products are needed to fill store shelves!
Johnson says you can submit your products by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with a short bio along with a description of the product, photos, media coverage/reviews, production capability and packaging information and a link to a website.
Products submitted for consideration must be retail store-ready, Johnson says. Submitted local farmers and purveyors will be reviewed for hand-selected placement in the store’s locavore lineup, Johnson shares, and all submissions must be received no later than Friday, April 15, 2011.
Oakville Grocery is searching for local vendors to help position the store as a key source for locally-grown fruits and vegetables to cater to the needs of downtown residents, Johnson says.
“For nearly 120 years Oakville Grocery has been the glue of the small farmers, vintners and purveyors in its Napa Valley, neighborhood,” Johnson said, “That same community aspect is what we hope to achieve in the unique community of downtown Phoenix by supporting local farmers and highlighting the high-quality local food and products that customers identify with and are proud of.”
[Source: Chow Bella, The New Times]
New in CenPho: My Goodness Cakes
After working in Sunnyslope for the past three years, baker Brian Tieman has relocated his business, My Goodness Cakes, to the Bragg’s Pie Factory building (1301 Grand Ave) in the Grand Avenue Arts District.
His website is full of examples of the kind of playful, pretty cakes he creates for weddings, birthdays, and baby showers.
He uses a dairy-free buttercream frosting (“helps with the summer heat,” he explains) and covers them with marshmallow fondant. He adds that the cakes are always fresh, never frozen.
Although My Goodness Cakes is primarily by appointment only, Tieman says he’ll be offering coffee and cupcakes during First Friday art walks.
Check out the original post for more great pictures of Brian’s cakes.
[Source: The New Times Chow Bella]
Pane Bianco, the Italian sandwich take-out shop owned by James Beard Award-winning pizzaiolo Chris Bianco, now serves a full dinner menu from 4 to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
“We wanted to expand the experience at Pane, with iconic dishes from my childhood,” Bianco says.
The restaurant quietly started dishing up dinner last week, offering such rustic fare as Schreiner’s sausage with Anson Mills polenta, ricotta and spinach-filled crespelle (crepes) with tomato sauce, pasta e fagioli with controne beans, vegetables roasted in the wood-fired oven, fresh focaccia, soups, and salads. Snacks include Creminelli sopressata, pecorino, and mixed olives.
“It’s going to change all the time,” says Bianco. “We’re going to use it like an experimental kitchen.”
How does Bianco do it, along with running his successful pizzeria? He’s got extra help now, in the form of chef Claudio Urciuoli, who left Prado last November to join the Bianco team.
Service is still counter-only at Pane Bianco, and seating is on the front patio.
Formaggio and Soppressata (Serves 2)
- Pecorino ol Fosso- 90 day cave aged sheep milk cheese
- Creminelli Soppressata -(Utah)
- Tomato Jam with cinnamon
- Castlevetrano, Nicoise and Picholine Olives marinated in citrus, wild fennel and spicy chile
- California Almonds from Miller Farms
Market Salad P/A
Controne Bean and Escarole Soup 6′
Crespelle filled with Gioia Ricotta, Spinach,
In ‘Lucera’ Tomato Sauce
Pasta e Fagioli di Controne with Pennette ‘Senatore Cappelli’
Anson Mills Polenta, Garbanzo Beans
ALL BEVERAGES 2′
4404 N. Central Ave. Phoenix AZ 85012
[Source: Sean Sweat, PhxDowntowner]
You may or may not have heard of Gangplank. It’s “a group of connected individuals and small businesses [in downtown Chandler] creating an economy of innovation and creativity in the Valley [that] envisions a new economic engine comprised of collaboration and community.” The small businesses that operate out of Gangplank are called “anchors”. I won’t claim to be an expert on the group but, from what I do know, they are a hotbed for innovation, community development, and civic engagement. Exactly what downtown Phoenix needs more of.
And I think we have a community that can be a wonderful home for such a thing. So here’s the opportunity: One of Gangplank’s anchors, HeatSync Labs, is looking for a new home due to growth. Myself and a few others have recently been trying to bring them here to downtown Phoenix.
HeatSync Labs is a non-profit hackerspace – a coworking facility that makes workspace, tools, equipment, and other resources available while creating a community of collaboration and learning-by-doing. They work with software, electronics, and industrial equipment. They also organize educational technology events and assist schools in science & engineering education. This past Friday they just got a big plug from an adorable Ignite 9 speaker.
HeatSync Labs is the kind of place that births entrepreneurs and innovators. These guys create buzz, energy, and would add a brand new dimension to downtown Phoenix. These kinds of people do things and affect change in ways that don’t always fit Corporate America’s myopic ROI requirements. These are the people we need downtown.
- Nearspace balloon
- Wearable computing
- Solar Concentrator
- 3D printing & scanning
- Open source night vision
- Tesla Coil
- Massive Trebuchet
- “Junkyard” Battle Bots
- and more!
The more I learn about these guys, the more I like them.
They want to be along the light rail, and they want to be somewhere that can charge their creative batteries; a place with life and activities. Mesa and Tempe are pursuing them – and we have to as well. If downtown Phoenix is going to matter in 10 years, we have to fight for innovators and community contributors like HeatSync Labs.
There are dozens of reasons why they would improve our downtown, but let me list out just a few:
- We have lots of lawyers, students, bureaucrats, designers, and retail/restaurants, but no techies.
- They generally use their space from 6pm-Midnight, which is when we need more people downtown.
- They would contribute to downtown activities, community development, and hold events that would bring more people downtown.
- It would be known that one of the best hands-on science education partners is based in Downtown Phoenix. The collaborative opportunities with the Arizona Science Centeralone are intriguing.
- As they grow, it would become known that Downtown Phoenix has Arizona’s premiere hackerspace (as opposed to Tempe or Mesa).
So them being here would help us, the residents, small business owners, and general believers of downtown. They would bring the exact type of energy, intellectualism, ambition, and vision that our downtown needs, and assimilating them into our community will benefit us all.
We’ve found them a great space in downtown’s warehouse district which currently houses other small businesses, serves their very specific equipment needs, and provides them with a wealth of value-added industrial resources and event space opportunities. It’s the best possible location for both their current and future needs — the kind of space that will fuel their imaginations and help them grow as innovators. And we want that growth in Downtown Phoenix.
But there’s a but. There’s always a but.
The downtown space, including the build-out, is slightly above their budget. The Tempe and Mesa governments are in conversations with the non-profit HeatSync Labs, working to find them grants and funds to relocate to their cities. We must do the same. We need to write City Hall and encourage them to fight for Phoenix.
But in the absence of small business support from City Hall, we need to pull together as a community and make this happen. Their move to downtown Phoenix would be a very visible move that would benefit us all in the long-run. My goal is for Downtowners to raise $2,000 to make it possible for them to move here and give them an incentive to choose us over Tempe or Mesa. If you will contribute something, even just $10, then please use the button below to email me your name and pledged amount [tax-deductible]. I will present the total pledges to their relocation committee in two weeks.
To get things started, I hereby pledge $100. Please post any questions/comments below.
(Note that all HeatSync pictures came from their Flickr account.)
The Duce defies what you might imagine about the downtown Phoenix experience.
Where am I again?
To set foot in The Duce — a quirky mix of retail and dining in a cavernous, circa 1928 brick warehouse at Central and Lincoln south of downtown — is to experience a delighted sort of bewilderment, as if you’d stumbled into a funhouse-meets-time-machine, or at least somewhere very, very far from Phoenix.
Part all-American diner, part old-timey cocktail joint, and part soda fountain — not to mention boxing ring, clothing shop, and antiques dealer — it’s an alternate vision of what a downtown hangout should be. And named after the neighborhood’s old moniker, The Deuce, it references the gritty decades before revitalization became a buzzword.
Truly, The Duce is unexpected. For one thing, people don’t take advantage of historic properties here the way they do in some cities, where preserved buildings bring unique character to the urban fabric.
The proposed entertainment district in this part of town — in the orbit of the arena and the ballpark — never materialized, and the city’s set its sights instead on a very different vision, one embodied by the contemporary architecture and pristine walkways of CityScape, just a few blocks north of here.
And yet, here it is — a spot that pretty much defies what you think you might imagine about the downtown Phoenix experience.
The Duce is the brainchild of two Chicago transplants, husband-and-wife team Steve and Andi Rosenstein, who sold their vintage-inspired Fitigues clothing empire in 2006. In the meantime, they rounded up so many antiques that the dudes from American Pickers would drool if they saw the treasure trove in here. A highlight is the exquisite wood-and-glass Art Deco bar, plucked from a legendary Chicago jazz club called The Black Orchid. You can feel the history just oozing from it, as you sip a Cuba Libre and lean into its smooth wooden surfaces. It’s oddly glamorous.
While The Duce’s streetside façade is fortress-like (it was stripped to reveal original signage from the days when the building housed a metal forgery and bus body builder), the two rear entrances are huge and open — one reveals an incredible patio stocked with vintage bar seats, a gleaming silver Streamline trailer that serves as the restaurant’s kitchen, antique soda coolers, and a cheerful Hamm’s Beer bear statue holding a tray.
The other doorway leads to a retail space filled with racks of military surplus clothing and sportswear, vintage bicycles, soaps and lotions, antique kitchen accessories and ceramics, another impressive Art Deco bar, old bleachers, and a retro soda fountain. Just past the honest-to-goodness boxing ring at the far end (where you might see real action some nights of the week), there’s another entrance to the dining area, which is filled with communal tables and heat lamps.
By day, the surreal quality of The Duce seems exaggerated, if only because it’s largely deserted. The stereo blasts everything from Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like a Lady” to Elvis’ “Love Me Tender,” and one lone bartender will take your lunch order. There might be a handful of other people eating here, but in general, it feels like a place that time forgot. It’s a novelty that makes you wonder how it can exist and whether it will survive.
But things do rev up in the evening. There could be a DJ spinning an eclectic mix of oldies, and young dudes might be working up a sweat in the boxing ring. Twenty-somethings crowd around the bar for classic cocktails (think Moscow Mules or Greyhounds, served in Mason jars) or working-class beers like Schlitz or Pabst Blue Ribbon, while middle-aged couples with kids in tow gather around linoleum-covered communal tables scattered with baskets of ribs, rolls of paper towels, and bottles of sugary, old-fashioned soda pop. Conveniently, there’s a bunch of Hula Hoops on hand for kids (or adults, for that matter) to work off some steam.
And amazingly, despite the free-for-all atmosphere, the food is pretty decent…
525 South Central Avenue
Hours: 10 a.m. to midnight Wednesday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
French toast: $8
Brisket sliders: $8
Maple-roasted ribs: $14
Chicago-style hot dog: $4
[Source: Glen Creno, The Arizona Republic]
Tom’s Tavern, a landmark downtown Phoenix restaurant that had been on the brink of closing, has a new owner dedicated to keeping it open and preserving its identity.
The Bidwill family, owners of the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League, bought the restaurant that has built a reputation as a favorite spot for the big names of government and business. It will be run by a new division of the company the Cardinals created to operate the food service at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Tom’s has been around in various incarnations for more than 80 years, but it was put up for sale last year when its owner, Michael Ratner, could no longer spend the time he wanted running the place. He was spending most of his time in treatment for esophageal cancer and said that if a buyer couldn’t be found, the restaurant would be closed.
Ratner died in November after a two-year battle with the cancer. But before his death, Michael Bidwill, the Cardinals’ president, paid Ratner a visit and expressed interest in buying Tom’s.
The deal closed late last week and the new ownership hopes to reopen soon, possibly today, after a cleanup and inspection.
Tom’s was a favorite spot for Bidwill during his six years as a federal prosecutor in Phoenix. He said he had known Ratner even before that and believed it was important to keep the restaurant going.
“It’s been a downtown Phoenix tradition,” Bidwill said. “Too often, we see these kind of places close. I didn’t want to see Tom’s close. There’s too much history there.”
The original Tom’s opened in 1929 in a nearby neighborhood. A restaurant group bought the brand and moved to the restaurant’s current location at Central Avenue and Washington Street. Ratner owned it for 18 years before deciding to put it up for sale last year.
Ratner had said Tom’s business was disrupted by construction of the light-rail line and the CityScape development. He had been expecting a bump in business after the rail construction was finished and said he thought CityScape would bring more people into the area. He never got much of a chance to take advantage of either. He had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in an effort to rid himself of cancer. Eventually, it became difficult for him to get around, even with medication.
His wife, Terry, is a registered nurse and didn’t know much about running a restaurant. She said she was pleased it would stay open and that her husband was happy to know the place he cared about so much would not go by the wayside.
“It was bittersweet for me,” she said of the sale.
Ron Minegar, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Cardinals, said the plan was to preserve the cachet of Tom’s while updating its look and menu. The goal is to keep the restaurant’s brand and tradition.
“There’s clearly a rich history with Tom’s Tavern,” he said. “It’s kind of a meeting spot for the city. We didn’t want to see a landmark like that go away. I’m glad it had the happy ending.”
[Source: Denise Meridith, Phoenix Business Insight Examiner]
Phoenicians have had several disappointments related to planned developments, with big chains, such as Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom’s abandoning expansion plans in Arizona. It may actually be up to small businesses to rescue Phoenix’ economy. One such business—Designer District—celebrated the grand opening of its third Arizona store with a fashion show at CityScape in downtown Phoenix on Friday night, October 1, 2010.
A backdrop at the show said, “Designer District is less about fashion than achieving a strong sense of personal style.” A sense of style has been missing in downtown Phoenix since drugs, crime, homelessness, gang activity, scandals, and the flight of stores to suburban shopping centers in the 1970’s and 1980’s tarnished the image of the city’s center. In the 2000’s, the population boom, construction of the baseball park, opening of an ASU campus and plans for new office buildings and condos promised to restore a vibrant downtown. But the real estate crash and recent political controversies threatened to put an end to the hope.
“I wanted to show people that there is a place to shop downtown again,” said Kurt Blaydorn, the founder of Designer District, “to create a destination to give people hope,” when asked why he chose to open a store downtown now.
On Friday night, Blaydorn was not the only one expressing optimism about the new CityScape center and downtown Phoenix. Jeffrey Evans, a long-time participant in the New York City fashion industry, who narrated the fashion show, moved from New York, then Scottsdale to downtown Phoenix. He and his wife, Brandi, love the excitement and promise of their new neighborhood.
Joanna deShay, who will have her own Black Russian fashion line on display at thePhoenix Fashion Fair next week, came to the show because she is “excited about what fashion can become in Phoenix…it’s no longer just about tee shirts and jeans.”
Kerry Dunne and Reed Glick will have a hand in making sure this is just the start of fun events downtown. Their R Entertainment has a full schedule (including a Friday night concert series) planned for downtown. “It will be amazing,” said Glick.
What will also be amazing is if, in the end, it is not national companies that create the Phoenix Renaissance, but a collaboration of small, dedicated and passionate local businesses.
A downtown Phoenix institution may be forced to close because of the owner’s battle with cancer.
“I’ve known for two years,” said Michael Ratner, owner of Tom’s Tavern. “But I’m hard headed and I didn’t want to give in to anything”
The cancer just compounds other problems for the tavern and other downtown businesses, from a bad economy, to a downtown that suffers after sunset, plus a lot of construction. But it’s the cancer that may push Ratner’s historic place over the edge.
Tom’s Tavern opened during the Great Depression, in 1929. It’s been a diner and pool hall ever since with Presidents and Princes coming by to grab a bite over the years. You can see the photographic proof around the restaurant. It’s also the kind of place that regular customers have name plackards on chairs around the place.
But owner Ratner can barely get around with a walker and he is in serious pain, making running the restaurant next to impossible. He hasn’t been able to be there in weeks.
“I have hope it will work out,” Ratner said with a tear. “I think the tradition of Tom’s can live on.”