Blog Archives

Conveyor-belt sushi is coming to Downtown Phoenix

[Source: Howard Seftel, AZCentral.com]

Attention, downtown Phoenix: Are you ready for a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant?

Ready or not, here it comes, in the form of Sushi Revolution, which will be occupying the spot next to Fair Trade Café on First Avenue at Roosevelt Street around Thanksgiving.

Faster, more casual and less expensive than traditional sushi restaurants, conveyor-belt sushi is very popular in Japan. You sit at the counter and watch the never-ending offerings glide past. Nab whatever you like. Plates are color-coded, to indicate price. At the end of the meal, a staffer adds up your plates and totals your bill. (The Valley’s first conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, Sushi Eye, opened in Chandler in 2007.)

Chef/owner Antonio Chavira, 28, thinks downtown’s business folks and students will appreciate the format at lunch, while everyone will go for it at dinner or after a downtown event. He plans to stay open until 1 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Although he will offer traditional sushi, Chavira, who calls himself an Anglo-Hispanic, promises “lots of fusion influences.” You’ll see a chile relleno roll, a duck confit and fig roll and a Maine lobster roll.

Prices, he says, will range from $1.50 to $4.

Sushi Revolution is downtown Phoenix’s second sushi restaurant. Moira Sushi, at 215 E. McKinley St., opened about 18 months ago.

Details:

Sushi Revolution
1024 N. First Ave., Phoenix.
sushirevolutionphx.com (under construction).

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New restaurant cluster emerging along downtown Phoenix’s Roosevelt St.

[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.]

Red Bull Manny Mania closes down Roosevelt Row (on purpose)

On First Friday, more than 5,000 fans packed downtown Phoenix, Arizona, to get a glimpse of Red Bull Manny Mania, the amateur skateboarding competition based on ‘the manual,’ a skateboarding trick similar to a wheelie.  Thirty locals tried their hand, with Ryan Lay coming out on top.  To view the full video, click here.

Viewpoint: Downtown Phoenix’s Jackson Street lost its artists long ago

[The following “letter to the editor” was written by Steve Weiss, Steering Committee Chair of Downtown Voices Coalition, in response to the Arizona Republic’s June 10, 2009 editorial on the Jackson Street Entertainment District.  Since the letter hasn’t been printed in the Republic, we’re reprinting it here.]

There are many issues to debate regarding the proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District: the loss of historic preservation on the last surviving contiguous areas of the Warehouse District, the impact on residents South of Jackson Street, or even whether a created Entertainment District can achieve the financial and sales tax success the developers and city officials hope for.  The debate can rage back and forth on these issues.

But there is one glaring fact that disputes your editorial, where you say “Even now the area is drawing artists’ studios and clubs.”

The artists were forced out of Jackson Street long ago, first by the America West Arena (now US Airways Center) and then by Bank One Ballpark (now Chase Field).  What was once an area inhabited by live/work studios and galleries seeking large spaces with cheap rent is now priced for speculation or geared towards the ethereal sports fan.  The one exception is the eternally struggling Icehouse, way West of the proposed development.  No city help seems forthcoming to the last true artspace on Jackson.

As in all big cities, the gentrification of the downtown, first made cool by the artists, will be left to those who can afford “attainable” housing or “themed” entertainment.  A House of Blues club is no match for the authenticity of The Rhythm Room, as an example.

If the developers who seek to make Jackson Street interesting once again are wise enough, they will create incentives for affordable (not just attainable) live/work artist spaces and the kind of hospitable and distinct food, music and art venues that thrive in the less structured and less pricey environments of Grand Avenue and Roosevelt Street.  Look to those streets to find the remaining downtown artists and artspaces.

Steve Weiss
Steering Committee Chair, Downtown Voices Coalition

Downtown Phoenix First Friday is Dec. 5

The fine folks over on Roosevelt Row ask, “Are you tired of frequenting the same spots in Roosevelt Row every First Friday?  It’s time to expand to the other areas of the Row with some hidden treasures.”  And here’s what they suggest:

  • Cross 7th St. and make your way over to the quaintest spot in downtown, the Welcome Diner at 10th St. and Roosevelt. Enjoy some local organic diner treats at this cozy spot from 5 to 10 p.m. every First Friday.  No one likes wandering around the Block Party on an empty stomach.
  • After you grab a bite to each, head over to The Alwun House at 12th St and Roosevelt.  Their annual Gift and Collectible Sale is opening this Friday from 6 to 10 p.m., and runs through Dec 23 (hours: Tue-Fri, Noon to 6 p.m).  This is a great chance to browse local artists hand crafted giftables at rock-bottom prices starting at as little as $5.  Visit with friends sipping complimentary spiced apple cider, tea, or coffee in the gardens and enjoy one of the oldest galleries in the Row.
  • It’s time to bring in the holiday season with Christmas at the Cathedral beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Cathedral Center for the Arts.  Enjoy the music of Camille Saint-Saëns and Christmas Carols with the Cathedral Choir and Organ.  Tickets are $15 at the door, students and seniors are $10, and reserved seating is available in the first two rows of the Cathedral for $25.  Click here for reservations.

Gallery Openings this First Friday include:

  • Pravus Gallery opens Soft Serve this Friday featuring new work from seven different artists. Don’t miss local favorites Blinky, Josh Rhodes, J-Rod, Sent Rock, Betso, Josh Taylor, and Zoso.  The opening reception goes from 6 to 10 p.m.
  • If you haven’t stopped by one of Roosevelt Row’s finest new additions, this Friday is a perfect time to check out The Art of Light Gallery at 906 N. 6th St.  For just $1 a ticket, you can participate in a raffle for 4 original paintings with all proceeds going to the MS Arizona Chapter.  The raffle will run from 6 to 10 p.m. this Friday so make sure to peek in this great spot and contribute to this great cause.
  • Perihelion Arts presents Elbow Grease from the artist duo known as The Molten Brothers’ from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday.  The team utilizes their individual and collective skills to create an exciting show of work that explores political, social and pop-culture themes.  Don’t miss these exceptional, thought-provoking mixed media collaborations, including kinetic sculpture, painting, and drawing.
  • Just Breathe, a Wellness Sanctuary is expanding its gallery space with an eclectic group of fine local artists.  Enjoy ongoing exhibitions from artists and photographers, as well as new work from Sarah Kriehn, while soaking up the peaceful vibes.  Make sure to look into their weekly class, workshop, and massage schedule to keep down the stress during the holidays.

For more information about First Fridays, including shuttle information and a map, click here.

National Trust officials tour Valley for possible 2012 conference

Kathy Adams and Lori Feinman of the National Trust for Historic Preservation flew into town last week to view Phoenix’s convention facilities; tour selected historic sites and neighborhoods in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe; and visit with area preservation advocates to determine Phoenix’s ability to host the 2012 National Preservation Conference.  Meeting them at Sky Harbor was Sally Forrest, National Accounts Director for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski welcomes National Trust representatives Lori Feinman and Kathy Adams. (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

The three lunched at the Hotel Valley Ho, one of the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America, and then drove to downtown Phoenix to tour the Phoenix Convention Center, the Hyatt Regency and Wyndham hotels (two of the host hotels), and Orpheum Theatre. Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Officer, and Jim McPherson, Arizona Advisor to the National Trust, joined them for dinner at the Rose & Crown Pub in Heritage Square Park (a large outdoor venue that could serve as the opening reception for the 2,500-plus attendees of the 2012 conference).

Phoenix's historic Ellis Shackelford House was decked out in the colors of Arizona's state flag. (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

On Tuesday, Adams and Feinman started off the day by visiting the historic San Carlos Hotel and breakfast at Palette in the Roosevelt Historic District.  Then it was a “timed-to-the minute” whirlwind van tour of First Presbyterian Church, Security Building (and ASU’s PURL overlooking the city), Monroe School (Children’s Museum of Phoenix), Phoenix Union High School Buildings (University of Arizona College of Medicine), Steele Indian School Park, Heard Museum, and several midtown residential historic districts.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison and Modern Phoenix Founder Alison King joined the group for lunch and tour of the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.  Then it was off to drive by the Wrigley Mansion, and visit the Desert Botanical Garden, Gammage Auditorium, Pueblo Grande National Historic Landmark, and St. Mary’s Basilica.  Special guests “popped in” throughout the day to say hello, provide their perspective on preservation, and tout Phoenix as a conference site: Attorney General Terry Goddard (Palette), State Senator Debbie McCune Davis (UA College of Medicine), City of Phoenix Council Member Greg Stanton (Children’s Museum), attorney Grady Gammage (Gammage Auditorium), former Phoenix mayor John Driggs, and Arizona 2012 Centennial director Karen Churchard.

Dan Klocke (Downtown Phoenix Partnership), Charles Fortenberry (Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers), John Jacquemart (Arizona Historic Sites Review Committee), and G.G. George (Encanto Citizens Association). (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

Topping off the visit was a reception at the Ellis Shackelford House in downtown Phoenix.  Over 60 preservation advocates from all over the Valley (and Sierra Vista!), city officials, and downtown business group leaders attended.  A balloon arch, special signage, decorations, and flowers in the colors of Arizona’s state flag welcomed our guests from the National Trust.  City of Phoenix Council Member Michael Nowakowski, Garrison, Stocklin, Feinman, and McPherson said a few words, and the rest of the evening was spent enjoying each other’s company and dining on wonderful hors d’oeuvres from Catered by St. Joseph’s.  Gift bags courtesy of the State Historic Preservation Office and City of Phoenix were presented to Adams and Feinman, and each attendee received a small gift as well.

Lobbyists flock to historic downtown Phoenix for offices

This historic building is home to the lobbying firm R&R Partners located in the growing lobbying hub of the Valley at Third Avenue and Roosevelt. Some refer to the area as Arizona's version of K Street in Washington D.C.  John Severson/The Arizona Republic[Source: Mary Jo Pitzl, “Building the Valley’s own K Street,” Arizona Republic, June 22, 2008] — Washington, D.C., has K Street, known for its high rises, proximity to the Capitol and its signature residents: lobbyists.  In Phoenix, the K Street equivalent is a stretch of Roosevelt Street on either side of Central Avenue.  It’s home to historic brick buildings, old store fronts adapted to modern uses and a growing cadre of lobbyists.  These practitioners of persuasion all cite similar reasons for setting up shop on the north end of downtown.  It’s close to government offices.  It’s near key transportation services.  And it’s cool.

“It’s a beautiful neighborhood,” said Doug Cole, a partner in HighGround, one of the earliest lobbying and public-affairs firms to venture into the Roosevelt Historic District.  HighGround has been in the area for 10 years, and eight years ago moved into a World War I-era Arts and Crafts house with a deep front porch, lots of wood detail, and loads of character.  Oh, and a swimming pool.  “We’re the only ones with a swimming pool,” boasts Cole, who keeps a pair of swim trunks in the office.

Riester, an advertising and consulting firm, blazed an early trail 12 years ago, moving into a newer building at Third Ave. and McKinley St.  Now, the firm is preparing to open a second office across the street to handle its expanding staff.  “All these other firms are in the area, and we want to be bigger than them,” joked Joe Yuhas, the firm’s executive director of public affairs.

Bullish on downtown, Yuhas sees the proliferation of smaller professional offices, restaurants, and shops as votes of confidence in the city’s core.  The historic nature of the area adds to its allure.  Yuhas delights in walking down McKinley Street and seeing a WPA stamp in a sidewalk that was poured in the 1930s.  The historic houses adapted by many new arrivals into office space are another draw.  “They have fireplaces, hardwood floors and basements,” said John Kaites, who bought a pair of old houses on McDowell Road, a few blocks north of Roosevelt.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix will enforce ban on sidewalk sales

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix officials are planning a move that will mean big changes to the look and feel of downtown’s monthly First Friday arts events.  The gatherings originated in galleries with new exhibitions, music, wine and finger food.  But, along revitalized Roosevelt Street, they spill out onto sidewalks and empty lots where vendors sell everything from oil paintings and pencil drawings to T-shirts and beaded necklaces.  Ordinances make those sidewalk sales illegal, city officials say.  And after complaints from some artists and gallery owners, the city will begin cracking down on the sidewalk sales.  On Friday and again in April, the city will issue warnings.  But, in May, inspectors will begin issuing citations, with fines ranging from $100 to $2,500.

Gina Suarez says the vendors add to the atmosphere.  Suarez owns the Paisley Violin, a cafe and art space that once operated at Second and Roosevelt streets but is now at 11th and Grand avenues.  Suarez said they don’t have vendors on Grand Avenue.  “I think it’s great that the vendors are out there,” Suarez said.  “It draws traffic and makes (Phoenix’s First Fridays) different than Scottsdale’s and Tempe’s art walks.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]