[Source: Howard Seftel, Arizona Republic] — A new cluster of restaurants looks poised to bring some energy to yet another part of downtown Phoenix. This time the location is the stretch along Roosevelt Street between Second and Third Avenues.
There’s Bambino Bistro, formerly Vinery 214. Chef/owner Leonard Jay threw in the towel on Vinery’s small-plate concept — the neighborhood didn’t get it, he says with a sigh. Now, armed with a new name and concept, the restaurant features sandwiches built around three kinds of homemade flatbread; from-scratch pasta; wood-fired, brick-oven pizza; burgers; mussels; and several off-beat specials… Bambino Bistro is a cute spot that could turn out to be a neighborhood sleeper. Jay, meanwhile, is determined: “We’ve made a commitment to the community,” he says. “No matter what it takes, we’re going to be here.”
A few feet down the block is Lola Coffee, the second branch of Daniel Wayne’s hip coffeehouse. (The original is at 4700 N. Central Avenue, just south of Camelback Road.) It opened Dec. 18 in the remodeled circa 1925 Gold Spot Market building. Why here? “Downtown is finally ready,” Wayne says, pointing to the growing number of neighborhood residents. He’s roasting his coffee beans and baking pastries on the premises.
Finally, the 10th Valley branch of Pita Jungle is coming to the same building as Lola Coffee. It’s scheduled to open by the end of March.
By my count, the area bounded by Fourth Avenue on the west and Fourth Street on the east, and Roosevelt and Fillmore Streets on the north and south, is now home to 10 new places in the past year. Along with Bambino Bistro, Lola Coffee and Pita Jungle, the list includes Nine 05, Local Breeze, Pasta Bar, Sens, Turf Restaurant & Pub, Moira Sushi and Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery and Wine Bar. And several more restaurants are on the way. [Note: To read the full article, visit New restaurant cluster emerging along downtown Phoenix’s Roosevelt St.]
[Source: Kevin Tripp/KTAR] — It’s hip, it’s hot, and it’s not a shopping mall — one uptown Phoenix neighborhood is bucking the recession. Right where the light rail line makes its turn at Central Avenue and Camelback Road, several new, locally-owned businesses are opening. Daniel Wayne is renovating a shop on Central, just south of Camelback. It will open next month as Lola Coffee. Wayne said the area has an important feature: “When I first came to look at this space, I walked in and I could look out on Central and the light rail went by. That helped me with my decision, it feels like a city.”
Just up Central, Postino Wine Cafe is brand new — and already packed. Partner Craig DeMarco thinks the neighborhood will be a prime location for years to come. “I think it’s going to be the hot spot of the whole Valley,” DeMarco said.
Wayne said light rail makes the area more pedestrian friendly. “That’s the vision, I think, of everyone around here — to be able to just enjoy your neighborhood… The goal in any city is to be pedestrian friendly and that’s what it’s coming to — where you can walk out of your place because there’s a lot of living space around here and be able to say, ‘Let’s go for coffee, let’s go for a drink, let’s go for dessert.'”
DeMarco agrees. “I think it (light rail) brought a lot more attention to the neighborhood. I’d been using it, so I was more familiar in noticing the great architecture and the great landscaping and just the great neighbors in general.”
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said 44 new businesses have opened up in central Phoenix because of light rail and that the space available signs are beginning to disappear. “If you take a look at the for rent or for sale signs along light rail, there’s very few now, and we’re starting to see smaller businesses,” said Gordon.