Blog Archives

Recession hits Valley restaurant scene

Cafe LaBella in midtown Phoenix closed in March.

[Source: Barbara Yost, Arizona Republic] — The recession has hit the Valley restaurant scene like a smack in the head with a frying pan.  The casualty list includes some of the liveliest, most established independent venues whose demise is shocking dining experts.  Since the end of the year, at least 50 Valley restaurants — and counting — have closed.

The most recent announcement came May 29, when James Beard Award-winning chef Nobuo Fukuda said he would shutter Sea Saw in Scottsdale on June 7.  While Sea Saw, under partnership with Peter Kasperski (Cowboy Ciao,Kazimierz World Wine Bar, Digestif ), was doing fine, Fukuda says, he’s found opportunity to set up his own shop, possibly in midtown Phoenix.  “I’m just waiting for approval on the name I want, and, well, the money to do it,” he says.

As summer approaches, restaurants want to cut their losses, says David Rothschild, former culinary instructor and co-owner with wife Barbara of EATiQuette, a training service for wait staff.

Palatte, a bucolic patio with a garden setting in downtown Phoenix, closed in March.  Café Labella, run for several years by Mark and Debra LaBella in midtown Phoenix, also turned out the lights in March…

In downtown Phoenix, rumors had Stoudemire’s closing, but owner Bill Smith of the Smith Hospitality Group says the restaurant will simply close for dinner this summer, as is customary for many Valley restaurants. Smith, who owns several other cafes in the area, says the prognosis might not be so good for his Maria’s Mexican Grill at the nearby Collier Center.  “We’ve never been able to get the dinner business going,” Smith says.  In part he blames the Collier Center’s reluctance to allow him proper signage that would attract, for instance, riders on Metro Light Rail.  Now Maria’s is in limbo as Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon is working with the company to try and save it.  “The mayor is very proactive downtown,” Smith says. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

On Dec. 27 in downtown Phoenix, visit Light Rail Stop #11

Roosevelt plants trees, holds 25 year anniversary party on Nov. 15

Roosevelt Row’s Trees First Campaign will be doing a tree planting on 6th Ave. in conjunction with the Mayor’s office and HandsOn Greater Phoenix’s Day for Downtown.  Cheer on the volunteers as they bring much needed shade to our streets.

  • Date: Saturday, November 15, 2008
  • Time: 8 a.m. to Noon
  • Place: 6th Ave and Roosevelt, Phoenix

Then later that night, you’re invited to the Roosevelt Neighborhood’s Silver Anniversary!  November 2008 marks the 25th year since Roosevelt was listed on the Historic Register.  It is the first Phoenix neighborhood to receive that distinction.  That’s worth a party, don’t you think?

Drink, Dine, and Party at CIBO and Palatte: Music, Festive Prizes, Special Wine Selections, Great Friends — both familiar and new.  Plus, each guest will have a chance to participate in the creation of a large scale mosaic painting commemorating the event.  NO cover charge!  A portion of food and drink proceeds will benefit Roosevelt’s Neighborhood Association (RAA), a 501c3 non-profit organization.

  • Date: Saturday, November 15, 2008
  • Time: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Place: CIBO & PALATTE, the Fillmore block between 4th & 5th Aves

For more information, click here.

Bevy of downtown Phoenix events coming up this month

[Source: Urban Affair] — Regardless of Tuesday’s outcome at the polls, our urban heart keeps beating and we keep right on celebrating.  There’s more good happening downtown than we have time to shout about.  For example, we have four incredible parties coming up: PHOENIX FUSION at the Market this Wednesday, the MAYOR’s HAPPY HOUR at Fate, our COE HOUSE party on First Friday, and a ROOSEVELT NEIGHBORHOOD all-out hootenanny on November 15.  Details follow…

  • PHOENIX FUSION, Wednesday, November 5 from 4 to 8 p.m.  October’s Fusion was such a hit, we’ve decided to make this a monthly event.  Join ASU Students at the Market for an evening of great music, delicious food, and relaxed, urban ambiance.  WHERE: Downtown Phoenix Public Market, 721 N. Central (southeast corner of Central Ave. & McKinley St.).
  • The MAYOR’s HAPPY HOUR at FATE, Friday, November 7 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  First Friday’s getting a special buzz this week: it’s the 20th anniversary of the nation’s largest artwalk!  Mix, mingle, and imbibe with Mayor Phil Gordon at Fate while the sun sets and lights come up in the downtown scene.  WHERE: Fate, 905 N. 4th St.‎ (4th Street & Garfield, one block south of Roosevelt).  To RSVP, click here
  • FIRST ON 4TH, Friday, November 7 from 6 to 10 p.m.  Fourth Avenue is THE place to be on First Friday!  Coe House sets the stage; Cibo and Palatte enhance the festive ambiance.  Abundant free parking, dining, art, and music — last month’s party was a blast!  WHERE: Coe House, 365 N. 4th Ave. (just south of Fillmore).  Featuring: Eric Hendrix (paintings and Installation), Robert Denning (paintings), and Rachel Goede (open studio).  Edible treats provided by Cibo; music courtesy of o n e Resident DJs, World Famous Rani “g,” and dk.strickler.
  • SAVE THE DATE ~ ROOSEVELT ANNIVERSARY BASH, Saturday, November 15 from 5 to 11 p.m.  Roosevelt Neighborhood is throwing a huge party on the silver anniversary of its historic designation.  Look for updates soon.

Another marketing plan for downtown in the works

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Mayor Phil Gordon and a coalition of community groups want to do a better job promoting downtown Phoenix’s hidden jewels — restaurants, shops, art events, and other offerings.  On Thursday, the mayor announced a new marketing push that would create a central Web site for downtown events, tree plantings, and other shade efforts as well as coffee meetings with residents.  The first coffee meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, at Palatte restaurant, 606 N. Fourth Ave.  “It’s an exciting time to be in downtown,” Gordon said.  “We want to make sure that all Valley residents are aware of all of the opportunities downtown (offers).”

The project is to be financed by private donations raised by the mayor’s annual State of Downtown speech. The October State of Downtown event raised $250,000, which has been used to help pay for small projects, such as last year’s downtown loft tour and the Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts, said Patty Johnson, a consultant connected to the project.  Johnson could not say how much of that $250,000 would be used to pay for the marketing effort.  The groups include the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Phoenix Community Alliance, Art Link Inc., Roosevelt Row Community Development Corp., and Arizona State University.

On of the events that could benefit from the push is Phoenix First Fridays, a monthly street party that draws thousands to downtown galleries and shops.  “There are important and fascinating cultural things happening in downtown,” said Sloane Burwell, the acting director of Art Link, the group that organizes the event.  We “wish that everyone would come and realize that they are invited,” she added.