Tag Archives: restaurant

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Valley dining spots welcome patio season

It’s fall which means the desert is starting to cool down! Restaurant and bar goers all over the Valley begin to seek out the best spots to indulge in the beautiful Arizona weather. But look no further— these local restaurants have Valley residents covered with killer patios throughout Metro Phoenix.

TEMPE

Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill: Located in Tempe Marketplace, Thirsty Lion Pub and Grill has a great wrap around patio. With a southwestern exposure, the Thirsty Lion patio is perfect for watching the fall sunset. At this hip gastropub, you’ll find great food, more than a dozen big screen TVs, two bars and 52 beers on tap. Enjoy happy hour, seven days a week from 3:00 p.m.—6:00 p.m. & again from 9:30 p.m. to close. For more information, visit www.thirstylionpub.com.

SCOTTSDALE

TapHouse Kitchen: Located at The Hilton Village in Scottsdale, this neighborhood kitchen features a seasonal menu of “Modern American Cuisine” prepared in a “Scratch” kitchen. The 3,500 square foot location accommodates 144 guests and features a rustic and woody décor. The restaurant has a fully air-conditioned patio, with a large garage door that creates an indoor- outdoor atmosphere. Take advantage of their happy hour seven days a week from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Enjoy $2 off House Wine (Cupcake Chardonnay & Cabernet), $2 off all draft beer, spirits & wine on tap, $2 off all beer flights, $2 off all TapHouse Kitchen custom cocktails, $2 off Tap”House” Margaritas and $1 off all well drinks. TapHouse Kitchen is located at 6137 N. Scottsdale Rd, #108 in Scottsdale. To find out more visit them at TapHouseKitchen.com or visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/TapHouseKitchen.

Kelly’s at SouthBridge: To both enjoy the cool weather and feel the awesome Old Town atmosphere, hit Kelly’s at SouthBridge this fall. Their spacious outdoor patio, adorned with bright red umbrellas, is hard to miss—it’s the perfect place for lunch, dinner, happy hour or late night festivities. There’s also plenty of room for big groups or parties too! Located on Sixth Avenue in downtown Scottsdale, the 8,000 square foot upscale restaurant offers traditional pub classics mixed with exceptional modern cuisine and the perfect laid back atmosphere. Enjoy ½ price bottles of wine (with purchase of food) 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and all day Sunday. For more information, visit www.kellysatsouthbridge.com.

NORTH SCOTTSDALE

SOL Mexican Cocina: Located at the Scottsdale Quarter, SOL Mexican Cocina’s patio is the ideal place to sit back, relax and sip on margarita after a day of shopping or before a night out. The perfectly shaded patio features plush seating, an outdoor bar and a view overlooking the vibrant heart of Scottsdale. The restaurant’s menu features Executive Chef Deborah Schneider’s bold, modern interpretations of traditional Coastal Mexican cuisine with a focus on fresh, sustainable ingredients. Designed to echo the expansive sea, sky, and desert of the Baja peninsula, SOL features old world charm juxtaposed with an urban comfort. For more information, visit www.solcocina.com.

DOWNTOWN PHOENIX

Tilted Kilt: Overlooking downtown Phoenix at Cityscape is where this patio is located. At this Celtic-themed pub and eatery, you will always find five things: ice cold beer and plenty of it, a mouthwatering menu full of traditional and contemporary pub fare, large TV screens showcasing sporting events, a festive atmosphere full of fun and friends, and attractive cast members eager to put a smile on your face and make you feel right at home. Enjoy specials on their “Hoppy Hour” menu throughout the week. www.tiltedkilt.com.

WEST VALLEY:

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria: Enjoy your favorite pizza while you soak up the beautiful fall season. Each of Grimaldi’s eight Arizona locations has a distinct patio. The Peoria location has one of the largest—lining the entire north side of the building with seating for about 50 people. So if you’re in the mood for pizza and cannoli or just want to enjoy a glass of vino or beer, Grimaldi’s in Peoria is a perfect place to unwind. For more information, visit www.grimaldispizzeria.com.

Uptown Alley: Uptown Alley, located in Surprise, is a 60,000 square foot family entertainment venue featuring bowling, an arcade, two-level laser tag, an ultra-lounge and more. Check out their great patio during this fall at their full-service restaurant, Red Embers Bar and Grill. Indulge in six-hundred calorie selections, gluten free dishes, craft sandwiches, new signature burgers and a custom Burger Bar. Guests can also take advantage of the special Tailgate Menu that’s available every Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday throughout football season. The menu includes items such as Smoked Turkey Legs, Chili Cheese Franks and Stadium Nachos. During the regular season every Sunday guests can enjoy the Touchdown Special that includes one game of bowling, shoe rental and a $5 game card all for just $7. Visit www.uptownalleysurprise.com for more information.

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Kimpton Unveils $1M Redesign at Amara

Today Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants unveiled a $1 million redesign at Amara Resort & Spa in Sedona, Ariz., that includes a refresh of the boutique resort’s 100 guest rooms, common areas and a coming-soon restaurant, SaltRock, that will open in early September.

In celebration of the redesign, the resort is offering a “Refresh Your Perspective” discounted rate starting from $195 per night, a 15 percent savings, beginning Sept. 1 through Dec. 30, 2014 (Rate code: Refresh Your Perspective. Valid for Sunday through Thursday stays.)

Amara’s new “modern native” esthetic infuses elements of Native American and Southwestern pattern and designs, but reinvented in a contemporary way. Craftsmanship and traditions of the Hopi and Navajo tribes that are indigenous to Northern Arizona, such as basket-making, rope-weaving, rain sticks and turquoise, can be found throughout. Pulling from the color palette of the surrounding lush foliage and the brilliant desert flowers that dot the property, green, aubergine, bright marigold and injections of hot fuchsia define the new interiors, which perfectly complement the red rock views that envelop the resort.

“The new look of Amara is contemporary, yet comfortable. It’s chic and sophisticated while also being a warm and welcoming place that encourages our guests to socialize and enjoy the beauty and local culture of Sedona,” said Patrick Gaskin, general manager of Amara Resort & Spa. “From the rich leather accents, Native American-inspired patterned rugs, natural live-edge wood tables, bright magenta statement chairs and a stunning, 10-foot-wide brass cowbell chandelier, the mix of simple and clean with pops of color and surprise really make our living room come alive.”

Common areas that underwent redesign include the living room where guests enjoy complimentary wine hour nightly, the full-service spa, the outdoor lounge and lawn areas and the 26,000-gallon infinity edge saltwater pool that overlooks the serene Oak Creek and red rocks.

“We designed our outdoor spaces as social environments that invite guests to relax in cheery Adirondack chairs on the lawn, cozy up on starry nights with plush blankets in front of the fire pits or lounge poolside in the new furniture while enjoying the view,” said Gaskin. “Resort and restaurant guests can also now enjoy a variety of games from 3pm-6pm nightly on the lawn including bocce ball and corn hole.”

Amara’s guest rooms feature live-edge wooden headboards that were individually crafted from fallen trees and vary from room-to-room, crystal drawer accents and geode artwork that pull inspiration from Sedona’s spiritual center, turquoise table lamps, oversized sitting chairs with woven rope accents, colorful rain sticks positioned above the bed to promote sweet dreams and artwork showcasing a jackalope, the mythological creature, adding a bit of whimsy.

Along with a new look, Amara’s full-service, award-winning spa has introduced a variety of treatments that embrace the natural and spiritual Sedona influences such as the Rain Dance Massage, using lavender, rosemary and sage oils that are dripped down the spine; Winds of Change Massage, where the chakras are realigned using the beat of Native rattles, smudging of sage and the healing powers of crystals in addition to massage techniques; and the Soleful Traveler Pedicure using hot stones and local Sedona mud to detox and relax weary feet.

Slated to open in early September, the resort’s dining destination, SaltRock, will offer Southwest-inspired cuisine marrying the fresh, light and seasonal approach to California cooking with culinary traditions and ingredients of the Southwest and Verde Valley. Drawing on inspiration from the Sonoran Desert and the vibrant city of Scottsdale, Executive Chef Massimo De Francesca is perfectly at home in this distinct environment. The cocktail program at SaltRock will highlight craft margaritas and was created by Kimpton Lead Bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout, who oversees the cocktails and spirits program for Kimpton’s nearly 70 restaurants, bars and lounges across the country. The bar will offer a thoughtful selection of tequila and mezcal, along with a curated selection of other spirits, local wines and craft, domestic and international beer favorites.

Guests of Amara enjoy complimentary morning coffee and tea service in the living room; hosted evening wine hour from 5pm – 6pm daily; a 24-hour fitness center; complimentary daily yoga; a heated, sea salt infinity pool and hot tub overlooking the red rocks and Oak Creek; free Wi-Fi for Kimpton Karma Rewards members; custom PUBLIC Bikes for complimentary use; pet-friendly amenities and accommodations and 5,000 square feet of multi-use space accommodating up to 160 people, which can be customized for social and business events.

To learn more about Kimpton’s Amara Resort & Spa, visit www.amararesort.com or call 928-282-4828.

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Kimpton plans New Sedona Restaurant

Chef Massimo_emailA new restaurant, SaltRock, is opening this September when Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants unveils its signature dining destination at Amara Resort & Spa in Sedona, Ariz., now undergoing a property-wide redesign, where Chef Massimo De Francesca has just been appointed executive chef.

Chef Massimo is currently the executive chef at Taggia, located at Kimpton’s FireSky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, where he showcases coastal Italian cuisine, sourcing local Arizona organic produce, herbs from the on-site garden and top-quality meats and seafood flown in fresh daily. Classic in his training, yet innovative in his approach, Chef Massimo is known for connecting tradition with contemporary musings.

SaltRock will offer Southwest-inspired cuisine marrying the fresh, light and seasonal approach to California cooking with culinary traditions and ingredients of the Southwest and Verde Valley. Drawing on inspiration from the Sonoran Desert and the vibrant city of Scottsdale, Chef Massimo is perfectly at home in this distinct environment.

For Chef Massimo, standouts have already emerged from the menu including Deviled Eggs, chipotle-egg yolk mousse with pasilla maple syrup; King Oyster Mushrooms, confit, charred and marinated in local pine needles and served with warm Mexican chocolate and pinenut gremolata; Mini Bell Peppers, smoked with pecan wood and garnished with spicy aioli; Trout Pâté, local Sedona trout slow roasted over apple wood, made into a pâté and layered in a smoking jar served with toasted baguette; Lamb Tostadas, braised lamb belly, smoked goat cheese and apple-mint chutney and fresh epazote served over freshly made crispy tostadas; Wild So-Cal Swordfish, citrus grilled, layered with tomatillos, pineapple-puree and topped with mango and black bean salsa and Achiote Chicken, marinated organic chicken breast served over jalapeño and cilantro risotto, asparagus, garnished with piñon sauce and pomegranate seeds.

“It has been exciting to dive into the creation of the menu for SaltRock and blend Southwest-inspired flavor with the seasonal approach to California cooking, all while discovering ways to incorporate local, organic ingredients from Sedona and the Verde Valley into each dish,” said Chef Massimo. “I’m looking forward to becoming a part of the Sedona culinary scene and trust that our new restaurant will further enhance the city’s dining experiences.”

The cocktail program at SaltRock will highlight craft margaritas and was created by Kimpton Lead Bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout, who oversees the cocktails and spirits program for Kimpton’s nearly 70 restaurants, bars and lounges across the country. The bar will offer a thoughtful selection of tequila and mezcal, along with a curated selection of other spirits, local wines and craft, domestic and international beer favorites.

SaltRock’s design complements the resort’s new “modern native” design esthetic, which infuses elements of Native American patterns, but reinvented in a contemporary way. With charcoal-colored oak flooring, mix-and-match dining chairs, a live-edge wood communal dining table and banquets upholstered in vintage rugs, the restaurant embodies a timeless and comfortable American vibe and spirit. An art-installation of more than 300 antique spoons, found at flea markets across the country and artfully dipped in a variety of colors, adorn the wall. Lush, green air-plants in ceramic pots hang from ropes and leather straps to create a living wall that separates the restaurant from the resort’s living room to connect the spaces, while still allowing for privacy.

Born in Toronto, Chef Massimo’s international culinary passions have led him to positions in such places as Toronto, Canada; Torino and Cesenatico, Italy; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Washington DC; Manhattan, New York and Dallas, Texas. In addition to his diverse experiences, he has worked under world renowned chefs such as Gianpiero Tondina, Vincenzo Cammeruci, Oscar Tuchi and JP Challet.

Chef Massimo joined Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in 2008 where he has served as executive chef at a variety of restaurants across the country over the years. He moved to Scottsdale to lead the culinary vision at Taggia in 2012, where he has earned numerous accolades including “Top 10 Best Italian Restaurants” by Phoenix Magazine. Kimpton is known for its award-winning collection of seasonally-inspired restaurants and bars lead by creative, local chefs that turn farm-fresh flavors into memorable dishes.

In August, Amara Resort & Spa is preparing to unveil a $1 million redesign of the boutique resort’s 100 spacious guest rooms and suites, common spaces including the living room where guests enjoy complimentary wine hour nightly, the outdoor lounge and the 26,000-gallon infinity edge saltwater pool that overlooks the serene Oak Creek and red rocks. As Kimpton’s newest addition to its Arizona properties, Amara is located in the heart of uptown Sedona. Nestled along Oak Creek, the resort overlooks the Cleopatra Red Rock Formation where Camel Rock and the much-loved Snoopy Rock are in perfect view.

While Amara is just steps from the hustle and bustle of Sedona’s uptown shopping, dining and cultural hub, the resort is situated below the main area, nestled on the banks of the creek, which makes it feel worlds away.

To learn more about Kimpton’s Amara Resort & Spa, visit www.amararesort.com or call 928-282-4828.

The Annex

postinoAdaptive reuse of a 1952 school building into a two-restaurant building with large patios adjacent to College Avenue and across the street from the new College Avenue Commons.

Developer: Wetta Ventures
General Contractor: UEB Builders
Architect: Brick & West, LLC and RSP Architects
Location: College Avenue and 6th Street, Tempe
Size: 7,323 SF
Value: $1.2M
Start/Completion: January to August 2014

Ron Pacioni-Coup De Tartes_01

Coup Des Tartes Finds New Building

Earlier this year, the land where Coup Des Tartes is located at 4626 N 16th Street in Phoenix was foreclosed on.  The restaurant owner, Ron Pacioni, had seven years remaining on his lease and thought his restaurant would be able to stay in its current location.  However, the new owners, The Van Tuyl Group, have other plans for the property and the 1932 farmhouse.  While the car mogul was not willing to honor the seven-years remaining on the lease, Pacioni was able to negotiate an extension until January 31, 2014.

And so Pacioni and his staff began the hunt for another quaint little house that would still have the same romantic charm as his current location.   The restaurant has a very devoted following and many of their guests were offering their assistance in the search.  They received an abundance of emails, Facebook posts and calls offering leads to possible locations.

Pacioni says, “We have found a new location and can’t be more excited for what lies in store for Coup Des Tartes and our guests.  We have a lot of work ahead of us; we hope we will make our January 31, 2014 deadline.”

The new building and land located at 17th Street and Osborn was purchased in early August.  The 1922 duplex is constructed out of beautiful red brick with high vaulted ceilings that showcase the stunning wood beam accents.  And just like their current little farmhouse, there are hardwood floors throughout along with a fabulous fireplace that will add that special touch to any romantic meal.

New to Coup Des Tarts will be a full service bar.  Guests will be able to enjoy themselves either inside or out.   The bar will extend out onto a large patio where guests can enjoy themselves under large trees and talk into the evening under the beautiful Arizona skies.

The one-acre lot provides room for a newly constructed Rendezvous Room, which will be larger than their current location and match the original red brick of the historic building.  The new Rendezvous Room will be a private meeting venue with all the high tech amenities needed for a business meeting, yet still quaint enough for a special life events such as a bridal or baby shower.

Valley brides will have a special, romantic get away where they can exchange their wedding vows with the man of their dreams.  Hidden away in the back of the property is a lovely green belt that flows under large trees creating a natural canopy for a unique, intimate wedding experience.

Pacioni is currently submitting the paperwork for zoning the new restaurant and working with the talented architect, Mark Candelaria of Candelaria Design, for the new upgrades to the property.  Updates on the status of the construction will be regularly posted on their Facebook page and website.

Kimpton's Hotel Palomar

Palomar offers superb Staycation options

I’ve been a downtown dweller for a decade now. I’ve lived in the historic district of Phoenix since before First Friday brought in the cool kids, long before there were bars in the Roosevelt district to attract the hipsters, and well before CityScape made downtown Phoenix a destination for something other than a sporting event or employment.

So I’ve never viewed downtown Phoenix as a place to go to get away from it all. Boy, was I wrong.

I took advantage of one of the summer “Staycation options” offered by the Hotel Palomar Phoenix at CityScape. The deals run through September 8 and there are three options:

$102 and a Round of Brew: Deal includes beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, a round of four beers at Palomar’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails. Rates start from $102 (Rate code: BREW).

Laugh Like a Local: Life just seems a bit better when you’re laughing. Beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, two tickets to Stand Up Live. Rate starting from $129 (Rate code: LOCAL).

Downtown Discovery Family Package: Beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, choose your own adventure with two children’s tickets to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix or the Arizona Science Center, two welcome kids packs. Rates starting from $124 (Rate code: PFAM).

I’m not a big drinker, so the $102 and a Round of Brew was out. And getting away from the kids is sometimes the reason you NEED a Staycation, so the Downtown Discovery Family Package was out. Since the laughter is the best medicine, the Laugh Like a Local was the perfect pick.

We arrived at the Palomar at around 5 p.m., just in time for the evening wine hour for all guests from 5-6 p.m. It was the pefect way to start our getaway. Immediately, we were on vacation. The Hotel Palomar is as cool as it comes. It is contemporary, connected and cosmopolitan, yet comfortable and welcoming all at once.

After we checked in and put our things in our amazing room with breathtaking views of the city and South Mountain, we went to the pool and its adjacent Lustre Rooftop Garden, which has sweeping views of the city’s stunning skyline and recently underwent several upgrades in addition to launching a new menu. The new menu highlights fresh bites, juice-infused cocktails and a fun and vibrant environment where guests can play table tennis. Local, seasonal ingredients are staples of the new menu, which features leafy green salads, veggies, local and grass-fed beef, a variety of flatbreads, kombucha on tap, fresh-squeezed juices and cocktails.

We had a couple cocktails — I highly recommend the Vida Del Oro: Square One Vodka, lemon juice, carrot juice, ginger juice — and had perhaps the most amazing burger I’ve ever consumed. The Lustre burger comes with avocado, jalapeño, pepper jack cheese and cool ranch aioli. That drip you’re hearing is the drool streaming from the corners of my mouth as call upon the memory.

Lustre is the perfect escape — great food, great drinks, great service, great views, amazing music and the people watching is phenomenal. Lustre was so perfect, we almost missed the 9:45 p.m. comedy show because we didn’t want to leave.

The great thing about the Laugh Like a Local package was the the Palomar has reserved tables for guests at Stand Up Live, so there was no waiting in lines and our seats were great. As it does every weekend, Stand Up Live delivered so many laughs that our abs were sore the next day.

What would a Staycation be without sleeping in, so we stayed in bed until a little after 9 a.m. I was able to get a workout in thanks to the complimentary use of Gold’s Gym, which is adjacent to the Palomar in CityScape. After the workout, I went for a quick swim in the Palomar pool, then soaked in the enormous tub in the room.

We ended our Staycation with a highlight that has the drool flowing again. It was fitting that our brunch at the Palomar’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails was on Sunday morning, because it was a religious experience. The Blue Hound is a brilliant blend of modern industrial with a touch of rustic. Friends have been raving about Executive Chef Stephen Jones’ food, but it was my first visit … the first of many. Here is what we chose:
* Eggs Benny with dungeness crab, swiss chard and hollandaise on an english muffin
* Fried Chicken and Waffles with Brown family farms maple syrup

The eggs were poached perfectly, the waffles were heaven-sent (keeping with the religious theme), and the bottomless mimosas were exquisite.

Our Staycation lasted about 18 hours, but eveything the Hotel Palomar Phoenix offers —  its proximity to downtown’s shopping, dining and entertainment; the wine hour; the Blue Hound and Lustre Rooftop Garden; the third-floor outdoor pool with views of the city skyline — made it the perfect quick getaway where we were able to let everything go.

As soon as we got into the car, we both looked at each other and said at the same time, “I want to go back.”

That’s when you know a Staycation has become the perfect vacation.

Booking: www.hotelpalomar-phoenix.com or 602-253-6633

Hotel Palomar_Pool Cabanas

Palomar Offers Superb Staycation Options

I’ve been a downtown dweller for a decade now. I’ve lived in the historic district of Phoenix since before First Friday brought in the cool kids, long before there were bars in the Roosevelt district to attract the hipsters and well before CityScape made downtown Phoenix a destination for something other than a sporting event or employment.

So I’ve never viewed downtown Phoenix as a place to go to get away from it all. Boy, was I wrong.

I took advantage of one of the summer “Staycation options” offered by the Hotel Palomar Phoenix at CityScape. The deals run through September 8 and there are three options:

$102 and a Round of Brew: Deal includes beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, a round of four beers at Palomar’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails. Rates start from $102 (Rate code: BREW).

Laugh Like a Local: Life just seems a bit better when you’re laughing. Beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, two tickets to Stand Up Live. Rate starting from $129 (Rate code: LOCAL).

Downtown Discovery Family Package: Beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, choose your own adventure with two children’s tickets to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix or the Arizona Science Center, two welcome kids packs. Rates starting from $124 (Rate code: PFAM).

I’m not a big drinker, so the $102 and a Round of Brew was out. And getting away from the kids is sometimes the reason you NEED a Staycation, so the Downtown Discovery Family Package was out. Since the laughter is the best medicine, the Laugh Like a Local was the perfect pick.

We arrived at the Palomar at around 5 p.m., just in time for the evening wine hour for all guests from 5-6 p.m. It was the perfect way to start our getaway. Immediately, we were on vacation. The Hotel Palomar is as cool as it comes. It is contemporary, connected and cosmopolitan, yet comfortable and welcoming all at once.

After we checked in and put our things in our amazing room with breathtaking views of the city and South Mountain, we went to the pool and its adjacent Lustre Rooftop Garden, which has sweeping views of the city’s stunning skyline and recently underwent several upgrades in addition to launching a new menu. The new menu highlights fresh bites, juice-infused cocktails and a fun and vibrant environment where guests can play table tennis. Local, seasonal ingredients are staples of the new menu, which features leafy green salads, veggies, local and grass-fed beef, a variety of flatbreads, kombucha on tap, fresh-squeezed juices and cocktails.

We had a couple cocktails — I highly recommend the Vida Del Oro: Square One Vodka, lemon juice, carrot juice, ginger juice — and had perhaps the most amazing burger I’ve ever consumed. The Lustre burger comes with avocado, jalapeño, pepper jack cheese and cool ranch aioli. That drip you’re hearing is the drool streaming from the corners of my mouth as I call upon the memory.

Lustre is the perfect escape — great food, great drinks, great service, great views, amazing music and the people watching is phenomenal. Lustre was so perfect, we almost missed the 9:45 p.m. comedy show because we didn’t want to leave.

The great thing about the Laugh Like a Local package was the the Palomar has reserved tables for guests at Stand Up Live, so there was no waiting in lines and our seats were great. As it does every weekend, Stand Up Live delivered so many laughs that our abs were sore the next day.

What would a Staycation be without sleeping in, so we stayed in bed until a little after 9 a.m. I was able to get a workout in thanks to the complimentary use of Gold’s Gym, which is adjacent to the Palomar in CityScape. After the workout, I went for a quick swim in the Palomar pool, then soaked in the enormous tub in the room.

We ended our Staycation with a highlight that has the drool flowing again. It was fitting that our brunch at the Palomar’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails was on Sunday morning, because it was a religious experience. The Blue Hound is a brilliant blend of modern industrial with a touch of rustic. Friends have been raving about Executive Chef Stephen Jones’ food, but it was my first visit … the first of many. Here is what we chose:

* Eggs Benny with dungeness crab, swiss chard and hollandaise on an english muffin
* Fried Chicken and Waffles with Brown family farms maple syrup

The eggs were poached perfectly, the waffles were heaven-sent (keeping with the religious theme), and the bottomless mimosas were exquisite.

Our Staycation lasted about 18 hours, but eveything the Hotel Palomar Phoenix offers —  its proximity to downtown’s shopping, dining and entertainment; the wine hour; the Blue Hound and Lustre Rooftop Garden; the third-floor outdoor pool with views of the city skyline — made it the perfect quick getaway where we were able to let everything go.

As soon as we got into the car, we both looked at each other and said at the same time, “I want to go back.”

That’s when you know a Staycation has become the perfect vacation.

Booking: www.hotelpalomar-phoenix.com or 602-253-6633

Hotel Palomar_Pool Cabanas

Palomar offers sublime Staycation options

I’ve been a downtown dweller for a decade now. I’ve lived in the historic district of Phoenix since before First Friday brought in the cool kids, long before there were bars in the Roosevelt district to attract the hipsters, and well before CityScape made downtown Phoenix a destination for something other than a sporting event or employment.

So I’ve never viewed downtown Phoenix as a place to go to get away from it all. Boy, was I wrong.

I took advantage of one of the summer “Staycation options” offered by the Hotel Palomar Phoenix at CityScape. The deals run through September 8 and there are three options:

$102 and a Round of Brew: Deal includes beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, a round of four beers at Palomar’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails. Rates start from $102 (Rate code: BREW).

Laugh Like a Local: Life just seems a bit better when you’re laughing. Beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, two tickets to Stand Up Live. Rate starting from $129 (Rate code: LOCAL).

Downtown Discovery Family Package: Beautifully appointed deluxe accommodations, choose your own adventure with two children’s tickets to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix or the Arizona Science Center, two welcome kids packs. Rates starting from $124 (Rate code: PFAM).

I’m not a big drinker, so the $102 and a Round of Brew was out. And getting away from the kids is sometimes the reason you NEED a Staycation, so the Downtown Discovery Family Package was out. Since the laughter is the best medicine, the Laugh Like a Local was the perfect pick.

We arrived at the Palomar at around 5 p.m., just in time for the evening wine hour for all guests from 5-6 p.m. It was the pefect way to start our getaway. Immediately, we were on vacation. The Hotel Palomar is as cool as it comes. It is contemporary, connected and cosmopolitan, yet comfortable and welcoming all at once.

After we checked in and put our things in our amazing room with breathtaking views of the city and South Mountain, we went to the pool and its adjacent Lustre Rooftop Garden, which has sweeping views of the city’s stunning skyline and recently underwent several upgrades in addition to launching a new menu. The new menu highlights fresh bites, juice-infused cocktails and a fun and vibrant environment where guests can play table tennis. Local, seasonal ingredients are staples of the new menu, which features leafy green salads, veggies, local and grass-fed beef, a variety of flatbreads, kombucha on tap, fresh-squeezed juices and cocktails.

We had a couple cocktails — I highly recommend the Vida Del Oro: Square One Vodka, lemon juice, carrot juice, ginger juice — and had perhaps the most amazing burger I’ve ever consumed. The Lustre burger comes with avocado, jalapeño, pepper jack cheese and cool ranch aioli. That drip you’re hearing is the drool streaming from the corners of my mouth as call upon the memory.

Lustre is the perfect escape — great food, great drinks, great service, great views, amazing music and the people watching is phenomenal. Lustre was so perfect, we almost missed the 9:45 p.m. comedy show because we didn’t want to leave.

The great thing about the Laugh Like a Local package was the the Palomar has reserved tables for guests at Stand Up Live, so there was no waiting in lines and our seats were great. As it does every weekend, Stand Up Live delivered so many laughs that our abs were sore the next day.

What would a Staycation be without sleeping in, so we stayed in bed until a little after 9 a.m. I was able to get a workout in thanks to the complimentary use of Gold’s Gym, which is adjacent to the Palomar in CityScape. After the workout, I went for a quick swim in the Palomar pool, then soaked in the enormous tub in the room.

We ended our Staycation with a highlight that has the drool flowing again. It was fitting that our brunch at the Palomar’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails was on Sunday morning, because it was a religious experience. The Blue Hound is a brilliant blend of modern industrial with a touch of rustic. Friends have been raving about Executive Chef Stephen Jones’ food, but it was my first visit … the first of many. Here is what we chose:
* Eggs Benny with dungeness crab, swiss chard and hollandaise on an english muffin
* Fried Chicken and Waffles with Brown family farms maple syrup

The eggs were poached perfectly, the waffles were heaven-sent (keeping with the religious theme), and the bottomless mimosas were exquisite.

Our Staycation lasted about 18 hours, but eveything the Hotel Palomar Phoenix offers —  its proximity to downtown’s shopping, dining and entertainment; the wine hour; the Blue Hound and Lustre Rooftop Garden; the third-floor outdoor pool with views of the city skyline — made it the perfect quick getaway where we were able to let everything go.

As soon as we got into the car, we both looked at each other and said at the same time, “I want to go back.”

That’s when you know a Staycation has become the perfect vacation.

Booking: www.hotelpalomar-phoenix.com or 602-253-6633

Ron Pacioni-Coup De Tartes_01

Coup Des Tartes being forced from historic location

Coup Des Tartes, Phoenix’s longest running and most well known B.Y.O.B. restaurant, is being forced out of its location at 4626 N.  16th Street in Phoenix through no fault of its own.

Coup Des Tartes is being offered a 180-day notice as of June 1, 2013 by the new landowners, the Van Tuyl Group, which owns several car dealerships in the area.
Coup Des Tartes has been serving award-­winning French cuisine in the same small, historic farmhouse located on 16th Street and Highland for the past 17 years.

Coup Des Tartes Owner Ron Pacioni said, “They want to pave our paradise to put up a parking lot, literally.”

He added, “Their representative has told us they have plans to demo this historic 1932 farm house on and turn it into an overflow parking lot for their nearby corporate car dealership. It breaks our heart.”

Although Pacioni continues talking with a Van Tuyl’s representative in hopes to prevent the move, the deadline date to be out of their current location has been set for the end of the year.

Relocating the restaurant will require a great deal of time and planning, but Pacioni is adamant that they will not close their doors during this disruption.

Pacioni, said, “We want to let our regular customers and our newfound foodies know that our doors are still open. We have every intention of continuing to offer our seasonal menus and award-­winning cuisine that you’ve come to know and love throughout the transition.”

pillow

Massive Downtown Phoenix Pillow Fight coming

Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Phoenix at CityScape will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a flurry of feathers during the largest pillow fight to ever hit Downtown Phoenix. On June 5th in the hotel’s second-floor Living Room, hotel staff will provide pillows and be on-site to share tips for friendly battles and proper techniques. Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, a Kimpton restaurant, will offer $1 signature cocktails and snacks from 5-6pm in celebration of the anniversary.

Following the pillow fight, the hotel will host a party from 6pm – 10pm to debut LUSTRE Rooftop Garden that recently underwent several upgrades in addition to launching a new menu designed by Chef Stephen Jones. Guests will enjoy complimentary fresh bites, cool cocktails, a juice bar, sphere dancers and games of tennis table all to the beats of DJ Al Page.

Perched on the third floor pool deck, LUSTRE Rooftop Garden is an oasis in the heart of Downtown Phoenix with sweeping views of the city’s stunning skyline. The new menu highlights fresh bites, juice-infused cocktails and a fun and vibrant environment where guests can play table tennis. Local, seasonal ingredients are staples of the new menu, which features leafy green salads, veggies, local and grass-fed beef, a variety of flatbreads, kombucha on tap, fresh-squeezed juices and cocktails.

Both events are free and open to the public. The LUSTRE Rooftop Garden Debut Party is open to guests 21 and older.

To learn more about Hotel Palomar Phoenix at CityScape, visit www.hotelpalomar-phoenix.com.

Ron Pacioni-Coup De Tartes_01

Coup Des Tartes adds catering company

Ranked as the No. 1 French restaurant by Ranking Arizona for four years in a row, Coup Des Tartes is a charming, 15-year-old, bistro-style restaurant that patrons call one of the most engaging and intimate dining experiences in all of Phoenix.

With his exquisite attention to detail, owner Ron Pacioni has turned Coup Des Tartes into the longest-running BYOB (bring your own beer, wine or champagne) restaurant in Phoenix, while dominating that niche in the process.

Now, Pacioni is bringing his golden touch and exquisite taste to the catering and special events industry. Rendezvous Catering and Events is another masterpiece in which Pacioni has immersed himself. Rendezvous offers the same exquisite delicacies as Coup Des Tartes, just at a greater production scale. With a thoughtful and dedicated staff, Rendezvous Catering and Events vows to make any party an event. To help give those parties and events a place to call home, Pacioni has opened a new sister venue called Les Deux, which is located south of Coup Des Tartes on 16th Street.

“We can bring in a large corporation or a small group and provide great quality experiences,” says Pacioni, “At Les Deux, guests can receive a hotel experience without having to rent out a banquet room.”

Accompanied by an intimate setting and relaxing feel, Les Deux is designed to seat only 40-120 people. Pacioni created his new catering company because Central Phoenix was in desperate need of an eclectic special events corporation. By catering to all parties — whether they are weddings, corporate events or everyday social gatherings — Pacioni prides himself on finding a happy medium for all clients and providing a four-star meal with fantastic quality services.

“With any type of food  — from Italian, Mexican or even Coup Des Tartes style — the chefs are very talented and exceptional at customizing the menu for guests,” says Pacioni.
For whatever mouth-watering food the client is craving, Pacioni says his team at Rendezvous Catering and Les Deux will work with each individual to craft an eating arrangement to suit the needs of any party.

Since opening in December, Pacioni says he has high hopes and aspirations for his latest business venture. In the first quarter, Pacioni says the special events corporation has exceeded his expectations and standards as he plans to use Les Deux as an outreach to the events community.

Klocke Dan dpp 6-14-05

Phoenix Public Market boosts micro-businesses

Micro businesses may be small, but they pack a big punch.

Though defined as businesses with less than five employees, www.microexec.com reports that micro firms “represent a staggering 99.7percent of all the employer firms in the country.”  That means more than half of all private-sector employees work for micro firms which pay “44 percent of the total private payroll in the county.”

A Small Business Administration (SBA) report in March 2010 showed that micro businesses created 64 percent of all net new U.S. jobs from 1993 to 2009.

For many micro-business owners, making their first foray into business can be a challenge.  The Phoenix Public Market provides very low-cost opportunities to promote products, establish revenue, and expand micro-businesses.  Along the way, they learn, perhaps make a few mistakes and grow in a low-risk environment.   Today, 45 vendors who started at the Phoenix Public Market now have products that can be found in major grocery stores and restaurants throughout the Valley.

In May, the Market will celebrate the grand opening of a new restaurant by St. Francis owner Aaron Chamberlin in the space that formerly housed Urban Grocery.  The restaurant is adjacent to the open air Market which supports over 100 micro businesses, many of whom will be selling products to the new restaurant.

Despite having to close the indoor Urban Grocery store last May, the open air Phoenix Public Market remains one of the Valley’s leading advocates for and tactical supporters of small business and has continued to grow and flourish.

Even with the setback and the financial challenges it generated, we were able to hold firm in our mission to create opportunities for small businesses that may not be able to open storefronts because of the cost.

Among the reasons we were able to maintain our focus and continue moving forward was the consistent and stalwart support from groups like the City of Phoenix and Bank of America.  The City of Phoenix has been a large supporter from a capital standpoint in building out the open air Market parking lot.  Bank of America was among the first to invest in the Phoenix Public Market with a three-year $25,000 grant and then stepped up with another $15,000 right after the grocery closed when we needed it most.

The impact of those efforts will be reflected long-term and locally. To date our micro businesses have sold over $7 million in local products.  Their support and our ongoing ability to provide opportunities for small businesses will create jobs and generate revenue, taxes and consumer traffic that will, ultimately, contribute to a stronger, more vibrant community.

Those benefits pay dividends to all of us.

 

Dan Klocke is Vice President, Development, for the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (www.downtownphoenix.com).  For information about the Phoenix Public Market, visit www.foodconnect.org.

Royal Palms exterior

Royal Palms debuts new T. Cook’s menu

Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Phoenix’s renowned luxury boutique hotel, announces the launch of brand-new dining menus at its acclaimed destination restaurant, T. Cook’s.  The new dinner and lounge menus focus on a renewed culinary approach to the restaurant’s signature Mediterranean cuisine, showcasing layers of French, Italian, Spanish and Greek flavors in a lighter, more modern interpretation of the region’s cuisine.

“The resort’s culinary team has done a tremendous job crafting the restaurant’s new approach, while maintaining the style, traditions and prestige T. Cook’s reflects,” said Steve Benson, Royal Palms Resort and Spa General Manager. “Both longtime patrons and visiting guests will recognize a stronger focus on smaller, sharable portions and plates that combine fresh and locally sourced ingredients to create big flavors, but executed with simple preparations.”

Diverse flavors permeate the menu as first introduced in the selection of appetizers, referred to as Tastes.  Crispy Sweet Breads offer a unique sweet and salty twist with house-made estate orange preserves, salted caramel and rosemary.  Penn Cove Mussels with charred chorizo, garlic, fennel, saffron and Parmesan toast and Maya Farms First Crop Beet Carpaccio with Fossil Creek goat cheese and spiced pecans showcase the highest quality ingredients prepared simply, yet deliciously.  Starters maintain seasonality in the Shaved Asparagus & Preserved Lemon salad with first of the year morels, Reggiano and heirloom tomatoes and the Truffle Spring Pea Soup with butter poached lobster, sweet pea tendrils and porcini mushroom cream.

This new, contemporary approach to highlighting Mediterranean flavors is further exemplified in the menu’s Mains as showcased in a Lamb Duet – an olive oil pressed rack, celeriac pudding, spiced shank, pearl pasta and pine nut crumble.  Local produce, handpicked directly from the property’s citrus grove, adds a bright citrus element to Crispy Black Cod with estate-grown orange salad, truffle creamed corn, roasted asparagus and sea salt.  Modern comfort food best describes the Gnudi – doughless cow’s milk ricotta ravioli with spaghetti squash, charred tomato broth and pesto.  Completing the dinner menu is an offering of Essentials, sides of vegetables such as Spiced Rapini & Reggiano and Caramelized Petite Root Vegetables.

T. Cook’s Lounge menu has also experienced a revival with an offering of casual bites mirroring the flavor profiles and sophistication of the new dinner menu.  Bar classics have seen a makeover as shown in the Bison Sliders with black fig ketchup, smoked onion marmalade served on toasted brioche and Flash Pan Calamari with mint, capers, fire-roasted tomatoes and garlic bread for dipping.  Zucca Chips take the place of fried zucchini; the crispy slivers are served with fried Italian parsley, Parmesan and fire-roasted red pepper dipping sauce.  Traditional Mediterranean fare such as Marinated Olives, Marinated Feta, Garlic Hummus and Bruschetta are each served with special accompaniments to liven up the dish.

Royal Palms Resort and Spa will soon introduce new brunch and lunch menus to debut mid-March.  In addition, T. Cook’s offers specialty menus for holiday dining, as well as seasonal specials.

To learn more, visit www.royalpalmshotel.com/restaurant and follow T. Cook’s on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TCooksPhoenix and Twitter at @TCooksPhoenix.

Royal Palms exterior

Royal Palms debuts new T. Cook's menu

Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Phoenix’s renowned luxury boutique hotel, announces the launch of brand-new dining menus at its acclaimed destination restaurant, T. Cook’s.  The new dinner and lounge menus focus on a renewed culinary approach to the restaurant’s signature Mediterranean cuisine, showcasing layers of French, Italian, Spanish and Greek flavors in a lighter, more modern interpretation of the region’s cuisine.

“The resort’s culinary team has done a tremendous job crafting the restaurant’s new approach, while maintaining the style, traditions and prestige T. Cook’s reflects,” said Steve Benson, Royal Palms Resort and Spa General Manager. “Both longtime patrons and visiting guests will recognize a stronger focus on smaller, sharable portions and plates that combine fresh and locally sourced ingredients to create big flavors, but executed with simple preparations.”

Diverse flavors permeate the menu as first introduced in the selection of appetizers, referred to as Tastes.  Crispy Sweet Breads offer a unique sweet and salty twist with house-made estate orange preserves, salted caramel and rosemary.  Penn Cove Mussels with charred chorizo, garlic, fennel, saffron and Parmesan toast and Maya Farms First Crop Beet Carpaccio with Fossil Creek goat cheese and spiced pecans showcase the highest quality ingredients prepared simply, yet deliciously.  Starters maintain seasonality in the Shaved Asparagus & Preserved Lemon salad with first of the year morels, Reggiano and heirloom tomatoes and the Truffle Spring Pea Soup with butter poached lobster, sweet pea tendrils and porcini mushroom cream.

This new, contemporary approach to highlighting Mediterranean flavors is further exemplified in the menu’s Mains as showcased in a Lamb Duet – an olive oil pressed rack, celeriac pudding, spiced shank, pearl pasta and pine nut crumble.  Local produce, handpicked directly from the property’s citrus grove, adds a bright citrus element to Crispy Black Cod with estate-grown orange salad, truffle creamed corn, roasted asparagus and sea salt.  Modern comfort food best describes the Gnudi – doughless cow’s milk ricotta ravioli with spaghetti squash, charred tomato broth and pesto.  Completing the dinner menu is an offering of Essentials, sides of vegetables such as Spiced Rapini & Reggiano and Caramelized Petite Root Vegetables.

T. Cook’s Lounge menu has also experienced a revival with an offering of casual bites mirroring the flavor profiles and sophistication of the new dinner menu.  Bar classics have seen a makeover as shown in the Bison Sliders with black fig ketchup, smoked onion marmalade served on toasted brioche and Flash Pan Calamari with mint, capers, fire-roasted tomatoes and garlic bread for dipping.  Zucca Chips take the place of fried zucchini; the crispy slivers are served with fried Italian parsley, Parmesan and fire-roasted red pepper dipping sauce.  Traditional Mediterranean fare such as Marinated Olives, Marinated Feta, Garlic Hummus and Bruschetta are each served with special accompaniments to liven up the dish.

Royal Palms Resort and Spa will soon introduce new brunch and lunch menus to debut mid-March.  In addition, T. Cook’s offers specialty menus for holiday dining, as well as seasonal specials.

To learn more, visit www.royalpalmshotel.com/restaurant and follow T. Cook’s on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TCooksPhoenix and Twitter at @TCooksPhoenix.

cell-phone-restaurant

L.A. restaurant offers discount to phone-free diners

A Los Angeles restaurant is offering a deal to customers who agree to look at their fellow diners instead of their phone screens.

Eva Restaurant is giving a 5 percent discount to customers who will leave their cellphones with staff when they are seated.

Owner Mark Gold told KPCC radio that the policy isn’t about other diners who might be annoyed by cellphone chatter or the glow of smartphone screens, but an attempt to create an environment where diners connect to each other instead of to technology.

Servers make the offer to diners when they introduce themselves.

Gold says nearly half take advantage of the discount, and many express gratitude at the opportunity to let go of their devices for a while.

restaurant - Iguana Mack's updated look

Chandler Neighborhood Roadhouse Revamps Restaurant

After 10 years in the restaurant business, Iguana Macks is getting a facelift. Under new ownership, the Chandler roadhouse plans to keep its rustic yet casual appeal while enhancing the menu, décor and entertainment.

Iguana Macks is an American neighborhood bar and grill located next to Dos Gringos in Chandler. The restaurant opened its doors in 2002 by local entrepreneur Michael Lopercio. Over the years, Iguana Macks established itself as a local independent “mom-and-pop” restaurant and prides itself on the personal relationships with its customers. In January 2012, Iguana Mack’s was purchased by a new team of restaurant and bar experts.

“Our goal is to continue the long term neighborhood roadhouse feel, while at the same time, bringing in a breath of fresh air,” said Randy Feldman, one of the owners. “In three short months, we have remodeled the interior, designed a new menu bringing back some of the original Iguana Mack’s favorites, creating some special events for our guests and built a team of individuals that are excited and motivated to be a part of something amazing.”

Iguana Macks has enhanced visual aspects of the restaurants including new wood flooring, custom designed light fixtures, and indoor and outdoor seating that make the restaurant more welcoming to its patrons.  Servers and staff are letting its guests know that “Mack’s Back” by sporting it on their newly designed t-shirt uniforms. Business professionals, local residents and visitors can truly enjoy Iguana Mack’s signature roadhouse entrees and sides knowing that they are all made from scratch every day.

When you walk into the eatery, diners have the option to eat in the 150-seat dining room that looks and feels like home. An Arizona themed banquet room is offered to larger parties looking for a private dining experience. The indoor and outdoor bar is also a great place to enjoy an appetizing meal along with daily drink specials. With more than 18 flat-screen TVs, a pool table, and juke box, Iguana Macks offers the perfect atmosphere to watch sporting events, play your favorite tunes and catch up with friends and coworkers. Guest also can relax and listen to live entertainment by local musicians every week and happy hour specials weekdays from 2pm to 7pm. For dog lovers, enjoy the company of your companion on Iguana Mack’s dog-friendly patio.

For more information, menus, happy hour specials, hours and location, visit www.iguanamacks.com or call 480.899.6735. Iguana Macks is located at 1371 N Alma School Road in Chandler. Follow Iguana Macks on Facebook at www.facebook.com/IguanaMacks.

z'tejas - opening a new location

Z’Tejas Announces Fifth Location In Central Phoenix

On the heels of celebrating their 20th anniversary in Arizona, Scottsdale-based Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill is announcing the addition of their fifth location in central Phoenix located at 16th street and Bethany Home Road. Construction will begin on July 2. The expansion marks their belief in Phoenix as a viable market for growth. This Z’Tejas location will be one of the first “ground-up” construction projects in that neighborhood in a long time, according to Steven Micheletti, CEO & President of Z’Tejas.

“We are thrilled to move forward with our fifth location,” says Micheletti. “After over a year of planning, Z’Tejas is finally able to move ahead with our building plans which will make for a great addition to this Phoenix neighborhood.”

The new location will feature small dining rooms for an intimate feel and a greenhouse with a retractable roof. The restaurant will seat roughly 290 guests, including an outdoor patio.

The first Arizona Z’Tejas restaurant opened in December 1991 at Scottsdale Fashion Square and continues to thrive in the community. The concept then continued to grow with three other locations in Shea & Tatum in Phoenix (1996) Tempe (2000) and Chandler in (2001).

Z’Tejas is at the forefront of unique Southwestern fare with seasonal menu items and specialty cocktails, including their award-winning Chambord margarita. Visit www.ztejas.com for more information and follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ztejassouthwesterngrill and Twitter @ZTejas.

 

Provided By Flickr

Five Monopolies, Methods of Communication Losing Their Hold

1.

Landlines

According to CITA, an International Wireless nonprofit organization, 91% of Americans carry a cell phone as of 2009, and those numbers have continued to expand.  Now more than ever, with the growing popularity of the iPhone and Droid, cell phones have become both a necessity and an addiction.

In past decades, landlines were an essential part of the home, but with cell phone giants like Apple, wireless communication is quickly eliminating the need for both a home phone and cell.  Now, phones do much more than dial, and let’s be honest — landlines don’t have Angry Birds or Restaurant Finder Apps.

Landline Phones No More

2.

“Snail” Mail vs. Email

Once a monopoly on long-distance communication, mailing letters to friends or loved ones has been virtually phased out of everyday conversation and proven to be the least efficient means of interaction.  What was once a necessity for love notes, bank statements, and college acceptance letters, “snail” mail is quickly becoming replaced with the popularity of social media platforms and widespread use of email.

Since cell phone’s and the internet explosion in the early 1990’s, this generation’s lack of composition skills have been harshly scrutinized.  In 2009, The United States Postal Service stated that 177 billion pieces of mail were delivered in the US, compared to 14.4 trillion by email.  Now, young people rely heavily on a keyboard, 140 characters and auto-correct spelling.

"Snail" Mail Replaced by Email

3.

Newspapers

Electronic tablets, such as Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Pad, Amazon’s Kindle or the BlackBerry Playbook, have been 2010’s newest toy.  According to the Washington Post, “average daily circulation of all U.S. newspapers has been in decline since 1987″ and “has hit its lowest level in seven decades.”

Newspapers have been undoubtedly hit hard — as major stations are reporting record losses, cuts and even closures across the country.  Despite the change in the medium which news is delivered, there will always be a desire and need for the public to be informed and educated on current events.  It’s just that now news is viewed on a 9 x 5 LED screen — not paper.

Physical Newspapers Moving Online

4.

Video Rental Stores

Some of my fondest childhood memories include “Power Rangers:  The Movie” and the newest Nintendo 64 game — both of which were rented from the local Blockbuster.  Video rental stores, like Blockbuster, have been slowly declining in business over the past 6 years as online sites such as Netflix and RedBox have stolen much of the business which these stores once had.

Having closed over 600 stores in just the past three years and reported record losses in the hundreds of millions, it’s no wonder Blockbuster is struggling to stay afloat.  According to an article by MSNBC.com, “Blockbuster Inc. may close as many as 960 stores by the end of next year,” primarily in response to appeal and ease of online streaming — in a society glued to their computer screens.

Video Rentals Like Blockbuster Replaced by Nexflix, Flickr, Scott Clark

5.

In-Person Classrooms

As a current student at ASU, I recognize that most classes still meet in a physical room with a paper syllabus and wooden desks from the Jimmy Carter administration.  However, as technology of educational tools increases, so does the medium with which it is taught.

Arizona State University offered over 700 online classes this spring, which range from Managerial Economics to History of Hip Hop.  It’s not just ASU, but virtually all major universities across the country offer online classes and degrees, and sites like Blackboard allow professors to post assignments and readings for the week online.

Classrooms Moving Online
Steve Chucri, president and CEO Arizona Restaurant Association - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Q&A Steve Chucri, President and CEO Arizona Restaurant Association

-In 2002, Steve Chucri was lobbying at the state level when the Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO position was presented to him. Chucri now uses his political and lobbyist backgrounds to help Arizona’s restaurant industry navigate today’s tough issues. An executive committee board member with the Arizona Tourism Alliance, Chucri discusses strategies to create workable solutions to many issues affecting his industry.

Could the recession have been worse for the restaurant industry?
I always think it can be worse, because you don’t know worse unless you’re in it. That being said, yes, the economic hit, the recessionary hit to our industry was substantial. It may not be as substantial as to other elements of the tourism industry, but when you have the closing of restaurants double from normal times during this recessionary time, that’s pretty substantial. … I’m not going to say we were the worst or we were the most impacted, but there has been a huge impact from the most experienced restaurateur to the novices of the industry. Both were equally hit.

How have the arizona restaurant Association and the arizona tourism alliance been working together to get through the recession?
Restaurants over the recent years have become more and more dependent on tourist dollars. The receipts show that. About 25 percent of our receipts from restaurants are coming from tourists. … I think what we’ve been able to work on with both organizations is how do we continue to work together and make Arizona a destination? We’re becoming more and more known for our culinary fare.

Second to that, we’ve also worked legislatively together to ensure we’re not being targeted for miscellaneous taxes and we’re not getting targeted as an industry when it comes to funding issues, especially the Arizona Office of Tourism.

What challenges do you see facing the restaurant industry in 2011?
I see an increase in costs. We’ve been fortunate to maintain costs at a low level because of the recession, but I’m getting concerned that if things do start to pick up we will see costs starting to rise. I feel as though the smallest of things, the profitability of a restaurant, is very, very low and it doesn’t take much. You can’t just go to your menu and start raising prices in an economy like this. … I think we’re going to make a real push to see how we can get rid of that CPI (consumer price index) component with the minimum wage, but I don’t want to dwell too much on that, as we’re still in the strategic phases.

On the good side too, I believe that people are going to realize, yes we’re in a recessionary time but restaurants essentially are on sale right now. … I see people also realizing, like I said on the positive side, that it isn’t all that expensive to go out to eat.

How has Arizona’s restaurant industry been recovering from the recession?
In many, many ways, across many segments of our industry, it’s been at a snail’s pace. … I will tell you that 2010, from the quick-serve industry all the way to fine dining, it has been better than 2009. Now, that’s not universal, but the increases we are seeing are at a snail’s pace.

I think the wish, if there was one, of the industry would be that growth would pick up a little more quickly. Not at the crazy pace we were going at back in 2006, 2005, but something that is more meaningful and can be measured. … I think that restaurants are doing all they can to make sure that happens by offering these terrific deals and really using a lot of ingenuity and happy hours.

Restaurants are really good at incentivizing and getting people to come in. I think we’ll always continue to see that happen. … If restaurants can grow and if our industry can grow back up to the 4 percent or 5 percent and it’s sustainable each month and it’s sustainable on a consistent basis, you’d see a lot of smiles on restaurateurs’ faces.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Elements at the Sanctuary - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Elements At The Sanctuary Provides A Feast For The Eyes And Stomach

My dining companions and I took in the gorgeous view at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley, as the sun set behind Mummy Mountain in a swirl of pink and purple, before settling into a deep blue. But make no mistake, it was the food that took center stage.

elements’ location within the Sanctuary must be some sort of homage to the resort’s name, as the restaurant is truly a haven for food lovers. With prominent chef Beau MacMillan — of Iron Chef America fame — at the helm, elements has flourished into an innovative restaurant with a flair for bringing out the best in every dish. MacMillan has a passion for fresh and organic ingredients, and believes food should be appreciated for its simplicity and natural goodness. After the Sanctuary’s renovation last year, elements’ kitchen doubled in size. MacMillan seized the opportunity to expand the menu to feature more local ingredients obtained from organic farmers, hormone-free meats, as well as more vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.

In the sleek, modern dining area, we began the night with some exquisite ginger eggplant hummus, served with fresh, crunchy bread. The hummus was unlike anything I’d ever tasted before, with an unexpected ingredient, ginger, that gave it a kick.

For our appetizers, we chose the roasted corn bisque, black truffle and lobster fritter; the pan fried, short rib ravioli topped with sugar-cured shallot, horseradish hollandaise and tomato jam; and last but not least, the crispy soft shell crab with green garlic aioli. They were all, to put it bluntly, fantastic. Each appetizer had its own unique flavor, but somehow left us with the same expression: Yum! The bisque had a smooth, creamy texture with hints of lobster. Meanwhile, the pan-fried, short rib ravioli was definitely a new spin on an old favorite.

Next up we sampled elements’ salads, which also featured an interesting mix of ingredients. The braised bacon and poached egg salad sounded more like breakfast, but turned out to be a good complement to the organic greens, shaved vegetables and soy sesame vinaigrette. But the standout was definitely the beet salad, featuring salt roasted beets and fennel, goat cheese, mizuna and toasted walnuts.

Soon it was time for the entrees. Over pleasant conversation and beautiful backdrops, we sampled various dishes. From the classic chicken dish to the special of the day, we kept our taste buds tingling. Another old favorite that garnered positive feedback was the prime flat iron steak. You can’t really go wrong with steak, and elements turned things up a notch — with roasted oyster mushrooms, heirloom baby potatoes and spring onions. After the tasty ginger hummus, we selected the carrot and ginger gnocchi as one of our dishes, and a good thing we did. The punch of flavor that the ginger brought once again surprised us — an unexpected but perfect addition.

Of course, we couldn’t leave without sampling some dessert. And were we glad we did. The piña colada was just as delicious as the cocktail, minus the alcohol. Featuring warm pineapple upside down rum cake with vanilla coconut anglaise and coconut gelato, it was the perfect ending to an exquisite meal. You might say all the “elements” were there for a perfect evening, as well.

If You Go:
elements at Sanctuary
Camelback Mountain and Spa
5700 E. McDonald Drive
Paradise Valley
(480) 948-2100

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

taco dish

Find Delicious Mexican Food In The Old Pueblo

Having spent four years in Tucson attending the University of Arizona, I assimilated to the culture.  By that I mean Mexican food became one of my major food groups.  There’s no shortage of Mexican food from South Tucson to the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, so if you love Mexican food, you’re in luck.  Here are seven diverse Mexican restaurants that will be sure to get your taste buds buzzing in the Old Pueblo.

Café Poca Cosa
www.cafepocacosatucson.com
110 E. Pennington Street
Tucson, Ariz. 85701
(520) 622-6400

You never know just what you’re going to get at Café Poca Cosa.  But with a menu that changes twice daily, you can expect fresh and innovative food.  Located in downtown Tucson, Café Poca Cosa is sleeker and more modern than other Mexican restaurants.

El Charro Café
www.elcharrocafe.com
311 N. Court Ave.
Tucson, Ariz. 85701
(520) 622-1922

El Charro Café was established in 1922, but today there are three around Tucson, one in Oro Valley and one in Sahuarita.  According to Bloomberg’s Businessweek Magazine, it’s the oldest Mexican restaurant in the United States. The best part of the downtown, Court Avenue location is the outdoor patio, perfect for dining on spicy food on a cool evening.

Guadalajara Grill
www.ggrill.com
1220 E. Prince Road
Tucson, Ariz. 85719
(520) 333-1022

Guadalajara Grill is always packed on Friday and Saturday nights.  Most people may be waiting for the food, but those in the know are there for the La Bandera margarita. This margarita is 18 ounces of fun, with different flavors stacked three high to look like the Mexican flag. Learn how La Bandera is made.

La Fuente Restaurant
www.lafuenterestaurant.com
1749 N. Oracle Road
Tucson, Ariz. 85705
(520) 623-8659

During the day La Fuente can’t be missed – it’s bright pink.  But at night La Fuente shouldn’t be missed because of the lively and loud atmosphere.  At La Fuente, mariachis are the main attraction Thursday through Sunday.  They even have their own stage in the middle of the restaurant.

Mi Nidito
www.minidito.net
1812 S. Fourth Ave.
Tucson, Ariz. 85713
(520) 622-5081

Located in South Tucson, Mi Nidito is Mexican food with a presidential past.  When President Bill Clinton visited in February 1999, Mi Nidito commemorated the event by naming a dish “The Presidential Plate.”  Other notable guests include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, actor William Shatner and of course hometown favorite and former Wildcat basketball star Steve Kerr.

Sir Veza’s Taco Garage
www.sirvezas.com
4699 E. Speedway Blvd.
Tucson, Ariz. 85712
(520) 323-TACO (8226)

If you’re looking for Mexican food with a different spin, try Sir Veza’s Taco Garage. Chips and salsa are served in a hubcap and shammies serve as napkins at this unconventional restaurant.  It’s not the most authentic Mexican food in town, but Sir Veza’s delivers with an extensive cerveza and cocktail menu and themed meal names.

The Taco Shop Co.
1350 E. Broadway Blvd.
Tucson, Ariz. 85719
(520) 622-1899

The Taco Shop Co. is great for cheap, fast and semi-greasy Mexican food. Don’t expect linen tablecloths and silverware, The Taco Shop Co. is open 24 hours and has a salsa buffet. But the combo platters, complete with a drink, rice and beans, rarely cost more than $8, and they’re filling.

Salud!

Sapporo Unveils its new Look

Sapporo Spruces Up: The Scottsdale Restaurant Unveils Its New Look


Sapporo’s remodel reveal soiree was one for the books. Complete with sake tasting, teppanyaki demonstrations and loud music, parent company Tavistock Restaurants celebrated the remodel of the Scottsdale establishment.

Sapporo’s exterior remains the same with the distinctive torches; flames shooting into the desert sky.  However, the interior has been remodeled to reflect iconic Pacific Rim elements.

Two large imitation sake barrels, adorned with Japanese characters and flowers, set the fun, lighthearted mood.  While the sake barrels flank the sushi bar, a red torii gate rises above the stairs leading to the sushi bar.  The torii gates are a traditional element of Japanese Shinto shrines. Chris Smith of CMS Architecture and Design was in charge of the redesign.

Bryan Lockwood of Tavistock spoke of revamping Sapporo’s atmosphere as well.  The inspiration for the new feel came from the balance of yin and yang, Lockwood said.  The new owners wanted Sapporo to feel like the hip place to be, but also like a neighborhood bar, he added.

A new look and a new feel go hand-in-hand with new dishes and drinks. Sapporo has a new lunch menu, and a few new dinner dishes, including ahi tuna sliders and a Scottsdale roll at the sushi bar.

On this night we sampled some of Sapporo’s traditional fare, including a spicy tuna roll and fried rice, but we also encountered a few unconventional but memorable dishes. With attentive waiters circulating delicious-looking appetizers, my companions and I decided to sample everything presented to us.

The lamb chop appetizer topped with Thai basil curry coconut glaze was a delicious combination of savory and sweet.  I’m grateful the restaurant was serving a miniature version of the Kobe burger, or else I would have eaten the whole thing, and had no room for the other appetizers.

The surprise delight of the evening was the Prince Edward mussels appetizer served with Thai coconut sauce and grilled sweet chili bread.  The unpretentious flavors and unexpected combination of sweet bread and mussels was one of my favorite bites.

As a tuna lover, I was very excited to see the Poki appetizer coming around. Poki is ahi tuna and sesame chili on a crispy wonton. The crunch of the wonton and the soft, buttery texture of the tuna was a delicious combination.

Sapporo’s fried rice is a treat. We had it served with chicken and steak, and shrimp and scallops.  Either combination is great when paired with the light but flavorful fried rice. As my companions and I were sampling the delicious rice, the tray of sangria came around and I couldn’t resist.  Although not traditionally a Japanese or even Asian drink, this sangria packed a fruity punch and would be a refreshing break after a day of hard work.

We had to make a stop at the sushi bar and sample the spicy tuna roll.  Although I found it a bit spicy, my spice-loving companion gave it her seal of approval.

Our final stop of the night was the dessert table. If Sapporo’s crème brulée cheesecake is as good as the chocolate covered cheesecake pops they served at their fête, it is a must have.

By the end of the night Sapporo was jam packed with people talking, laughing, drinking and eating, all feeding their energy into a vibrant atmosphere. It felt like the coolest place to be, and I was glad to be part of the party.

www.sapporoscottsdale.com

Sappor Revamps its Look

Pineapple Martini at Sapporo

The new interior at Sapporo

Delicious Sushi at Sapporo

Front patio of Hula's Modern Tiki

Hula’s Modern Tiki Brings Polynesia To Central Phoenix

With new restaurants popping up on every block of Central Phoenix, it can be hard to tell which are worth a visit and which should be avoided at all costs. Well, I’m here to tell you that Hula’s Modern Tiki, located right off the light rail at Central Avenue and Camelback Road, is worth not just one visit, but multiple.

My companion and I were hooked from the moment we spotted Hula’s from the street. You know a restaurant’s good if the outdoor patio is crowded on a hot Arizona Thursday night. The restaurant was vibrant and energizing, with techno music blaring from the speakers and football playing on the TVs by the bar. Farther inside, there are booths and tables in a quieter — but still very much alive — room.

As we settled in, we ordered our appetizer, the seared ahi wontons with wasabi-ginger cream sauce. As soon as they arrived, we promptly stuffed our faces, forgetting that there would be more delicious food to come. We thought the wontons were the most delicious things we had ever tasted — until our poke arrived.

The poke appetizer came to us on the recommendation from our incredible waitress, Ginger, who took amazing care of us all evening. The island-style poke consists of ahi, soy sauce, sesame oil, avocado, onions and macadamia nuts, and it was truly exquisite.

Before long, our entrees arrived. Hula’s offers a choice of fish and a choice of preparation that you can mix and match. We ordered the mahi; flavorful, firm, game fish. We had it pan-fried with shiitake mushrooms and soy-miso sauce. The sauce and mushroom flavor was absolutely perfect and complemented the fish beautifully. The sides were a hit, too — even my slaw-hating friend had more than one bite.

The star of the evening, though, was the shrimp taco. The sauteed shrimp were cooked to perfection and the tortillas were fresh and delicious. Served with beans and rice, this was definitely one of my favorite meals of all time.

If you’re not a fish person, don’t fear: Hula’s offers beef and pork tacos, too, as well as a wide selection of burgers and sandwiches. There’s definitely something for everybody.

We wrapped up the evening with our favorite dessert — key lime pie. We’ve both eaten a lot of key lime pie in our time, and we both agreed that this was among the best. It was rich and creamy and we fought over the last bite.

So the next time you’re trying to sort through the mass of restaurants in buzzing Phoenix, head on over to Hula’s. No matter what you’re looking for, it delivers.

If You Go:
4700 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85012
602-262-TIKI (8454)

Orange Sky At Talking Stick Resort - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

The Cuisine And Atmosphere At Orange Sky At Talking Stick Resort Make For A Perfect Pairing

Orange Sky at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale serves up class from the time you enter the restaurant, all the way to the dessert course. Guests board an elevator and are whisked to the 15th floor, where city and mountain views greet diners. The hostess escorted us down a long corridor, past private rooms that looked ready to host lively dinner parties, to our table, which was the definition of elegance. A high-backed couch separated us from the hallway, adding a feeling of privacy.

Our, not one, but two servers made us feel as if we were the only four people in the restaurant. For appetizers, we feasted on the roasted local beet salad and the overflowing antipasti plate. The rich color of the roasted beet salad, complete with black mesa ranch goat cheese, truffle oil, white balsamic and local greens, mirrored the rich flavor of the beets, but it was still sweet and light enough to be a perfect summer treat. The antipasti plate was as packed as possible with duck confit, prosciutto, eggplant caponata and grilled ciabata bread. It could have fed an entire table of hungry diners.

As soon as dinner was served, we could not wait to indulge in the rich spread. The shrimp and scallop steaks, wrapped in jalapeno bacon, lived up to their names. There was nothing small about either. The twin tournedos of char-grilled filet of beef were as appetizing as they looked. The walnut-shallot crusted, roasted half rack of lamb was the favorite. The juiciness of the lamb next to the sweetness of the crust made me, previously a lamb neophyte, a convert.

If the lamb was the star of the evening, the sides comprised a formidable supporting cast. The bowl of smoked, cheddar-whipped Yukon potatoes was an airy, golden masterpiece. The roasted sweet carrots tasted as amazing as their deep orange color looked on the plate. As we continued our trip around the culinary color wheel, we sampled the steamed asparagus. Its crunch made a wonderful contrast to the softer textures of the potatoes and the carrots.

As dessert approached I didn’t know if I could go the distance. But then our server showed us the selection and we ordered three. After a rich meal of lamb, beef, carrots and whipped potatoes, nothing tastes as refreshing as the warm, lemon semolina cake with raspberries and blueberries. If you’re a chocolate lover, you will find nirvana in the chocolate mousse, layered with an orange liqueur-soaked cake and ganache on a thin chocolate cookie.

As we finished our desserts, we watched the sun set over the Camelback Mountains and cast an orangey-red glow over the Valley. We made our way onto the patio just as the orange sky gave way to city lights. Like our secluded table, the patio and the large dining room also offer panoramic views, but with a more vibrant, animated atmosphere. The fantastic views, the cuisine and the elegant ambience will keep you coming back to Orange Sky.

If You Go:
Orange Sky
9800 E. Indian Bend Road, Scottsdale
480-850-7777
www.talkingstickresort.com

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010