[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: Arizona Republic editorial board] — A bit more than a year ago, downtown Phoenix business owners wondered out loud where all the Arizona State University students were. There may have been more than 8,000 registered for classes downtown, they said, but they weren’t showing up in their shops and restaurants. One year later… check that concern. Parts of downtown, particularly the region north of the downtown ASU campus, are being overrun with Sun Devils. Or perhaps it is simply young people in general. Whoever these kids are, they are beginning to swarm throughout central Phoenix in impressive numbers at last.
The most notable demonstration of the blossoming of the central city continues to be the First Friday events, of course. On Nov. 5, the city closed off East Roosevelt from North Central Avenue to Seventh Street to traffic for the first time, allowing the throngs of attendees to overflow the streets without fear of automobiles.
The growing First Friday crowds and the widening ASU footprint have attracted entrepreneurs like Kyle Simone and Jeff Mann to open shops like their Phoenicia Association, a combination men’s clothier and art gallery. The youth traffic persuaded restaurateur Wade Moises to open the popular PastaBAR at First Street and Pierce Street, in the same building with Sens Asian Tapas and the now popular Irish bar Turf. [Note: Read the full article at Viewpoint: downtown Phoenix businesses finally scoring.]
[Source: Claudia Bullmore, Radiate Phoenix] — Join us in welcoming Malissa Geer as she shares ASU Downtown’s efforts to integrate into this community. Malissa is the Community Engagement Liaison from the Office of the University Vice President at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus and helps this significant downtown entity contribute to downtown’s placemaking efforts. We will gather near the downtown campus at The Turf and hear from restaurant owner Andrew Mirtich about how ASU and other factors influenced his decision in selecting Turf’s location. Radiate specials will be featured!
[Source: Life in Downtown Phoenix blog] — While the arts community was the first generation of pioneers to successfully lift downtown Phoenix out of its doldrums, the second wave of downtown resurgence came from the independent restaurants that gambled on the area. By 2005, places like Matt’s Big Breakfast, Cibo, and Fate proved that independent restaurants with quality food could really have success downtown.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and 2009 is really proving that as the number of restaurants opening their doors all around the aforementioned downtown pioneers is staggering. Already this year the Turf (formerly Turf Accountant), Pasta Bar, El Portal, and Sapna’s Cafe have opened. By the end of the month Moira will bring sushi back to downtown for the first time in years, and sometime soon Luke’s of Chicago will start a branch on Seventh Street in a renovated historic building while a Mediterranean restaurant is set to appear on Roosevelt Street just east of Third Avenue. Almost every one of those restaurants is within a half-mile radius of the original Matt’s/Fate duo that got things rolling. Amidst all this Palette apparently closed — which is shocking for anyone like me who was part of the sometimes-90 minute wait on the weekends for brunch — but the rumor is that someone else wanted the location and that Pallette will resurface somewhere else in the area.
Assuming these businesses can survive the current economic conditions, they’ll be poised to really help downtown surge when the housing market finally turns around. Downtown Phoenix probably already stood alone with Tempe’s Mill Avenue and Old Town Scottsdale as options for those who live in the Phoenix area and prefer walkable urban environments. But aided in no small part by this restaurant boom, downtown has separated itself from the chains of Mill and the cheese of Scottsdale as probably the premiere locale for urbanists. While downtown Phoenix is of course only beginning to catch up with even its western competitors in places like Denver and Portland, it has clearly established some positive momentum. [Note: To read more of downtown_resident’s views, click here.]