Tag Archives: wine bar

Melissa Pruitt: Future owner of LaGattara Cat Café.

A feline first: Cat café coming to the Valley

Seventeen years ago, an entrepreneur in Taipei, Taiwan opened the world’s very first café with cats as the guests’ accompaniment. With this attraction being as bizarre as it sounds, word got out and the cafés began to blossom worldwide.

These “cat cafés” have become such a trend that they have gained publicity on shows like “Shark Tank” and “The Amazing Race.”

Entrepreneur and cat lover, Melissa Pruitt, decided it was Arizona’s turn. Pruitt plans to open LaGattara Cat Café by January 2016. As of now, there is not an exact location. However Pruitt says, “We are looking at some locations in Old Town Scottsdale. Old Town is a great area that is walkable and quite central.”

Thinking back, Pruitt proudly explained that rescuing cats is in her blood. Her father, the sheriff of a small town in Illinois, was always one to feed, rescue and find homes to stray alley cats.

“I say it’s in my blood, because I only met my dad once and I have all the same traits as him when it comes to cats,” she says.

Pruitt’s inspiration to take action came from Adam Myatt and Anne Dunn, the owners of Cat Town, the United States’ very first cat café in Oakland. After paying a visit, Pruitt immediately knew that this is what she wanted to do. She loved the idea that cats can get out of the stressful environment of a shelter, and into a safe place where they can roam free, relax and receive healthy attention.

“The ultimate goal for the café will be to provide a calm open space for the cats and people to come together,” explains Pruitt. The cafe will have roughly 15-20 cats, all of which will be able to sleep freely about the café, as well as have access to a private room where they can be alone.

Pruitt is also making adoption an option.

“All cats will be adoptable!” Pruitt exclaims. “We are still working out the details with our partner shelters, but most likely we will do the application process at the café, and all adoptions fees will go back to the partner shelter.”

The café is currently in the process of finalizing these partner shelters, including All About Animals. There will be adoption packets loaded with information and Pruitt plans to go over it in detail with each adoption as every situation is different.

There will also be some new, exciting ideas that will make her cat café unique and fun. Not only will LaGattara Cat Café be incorporating a wine bar, Pruitt plans to include events with the cats like yoga and paint night. Customers can also rent out the café for birthday parties and corporate events.

Pruitt has lived in the Valley for 12 years and has independently rescued more than 300 cats and kittens with her own money.

“Making this a business, I’ll be able to help in a bigger way,” she says. “I’ve been in property management for almost 20 years and I’m ready to follow my heart and do what I love.”

Cultivator (4)

Sheraton Phoenix Downtown 1st to use Urban Cultivator

Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel recently installed Arizona’s first commercial-use Urban Cultivator™ to grow, sprout and harvest a wide selection of fresh and aromatic micro greens and herbs. Now guests of the hotel and its restaurant, District American Kitchen and Wine Bar, can experience a wide array of delicious and hard-to-find greens all year round.

The decision to install a six-and-a-half-foot tall commercial-use Urban Cultivator was not just to provide hotel and restaurant guests with the freshest ingredients, but also to align with the company’s sustainable commitment to consume less and care more for the planet. The Urban Cultivator is a fully-automated indoor growing appliance that resembles a refrigerator with double glass doors and a series of growing shelves, lighting and water spouts. It is climate controlled and uses a method similar to hydroponic growing to grow herbs and micro greens. By growing right on property, the hotel is conserving time, water and energy, thus minimizing waste and emissions.

“With much success from our rooftop herb garden that currently yields everything from organic French lavender to thyme to chocolate mint and much more, we decided to install a commercial-use Urban Cultivator to supplement what the garden might not be able to produce,” said General Manager Mike Ehmann, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. “This environmentally conscious effort is much more than simply growing and serving the freshest ingredients. As the largest hotel in Arizona with 1,000 guestrooms and a vast amount of meeting space, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel caterers to thousands of guests – it is important that we provide the best quality while reducing food and energy costs.”

The culinary team at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel and District American Kitchen and Wine Bar take pride and ownership in growing and harvesting the freshest herbs and micro greens. Some of the many greens the team grows include: arugula, basil, dill, endive, lettuces, radishes, and a plethora of others. The herbs and micro greens are added to a variety of dishes, used in catered functions and infused in many mixed beverages.

To learn more about Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, visit www.sheratonphoenixdowntown.com.

Downtown Phoenix After Dark - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

Great Cuisine Helps Lure People To Downtown Phoenix After Dark

It’s amazing how quickly things can change. As recently as five years ago, Downtown Phoenix was practically deserted in the evenings. It was a place people came to during the day to work, but left as soon as 5 p.m. hit. Now, Downtown Phoenix has finally become a destination for concerts, sporting events and a happening nightlife. Much of its new found popularity is attributed to the innovative restaurants that have begun springing up, drawing in customers before and after events.

“The Downtown Phoenix cuisine is becoming a center of good food, farm-to-table concepts, and a variety of locally owned restaurants,” says Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau. “From before a game or concert to late-night dining, the culinary scene is eye-catching and mouth-watering.”

Indeed, most of the restaurants open downtown can’t be found anywhere else. Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar has been open since 2003, so owner Ken Cheuvront has witnessed the downtown makeover firsthand.

Cheuvront says the restaurant attracts most of its customers from the arts community, especially those who attend the opera, the symphony and the theater. Five years ago, he started advertising in playbills and giving to arts organizations.

“Now that more and more people are coming downtown for their entertainment needs, we see people before or after their events,” he says. “Our demographic is 35 and up, but we think of ourselves as hip.”

District American Kitchen, the full-service restaurant inside the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, draws in theater patrons before and after shows with its live weekend entertainment.

“Theater people come to dinner before the show, then come back after for jazz music on Saturday nights,” says general manager Heinrich Stasiuk.

He says the restaurant also appeals to theater patrons because it intentionally offers dinner items that can be prepared quickly without sacrificing quality, since diners often have time constraints.

Jonathan Cullen, general manager of Kincaid’s Fish Chop & Steakhouse, says his restaurant sometimes offer discounts to those who attend the symphony.
Downtown restaurants also benefit from First Friday, the art walk that takes place on the first Friday of each month.
“First Friday is huge for us,” Cheuvront says. “Those are our biggest nights of the month. That’s a huge benefit to us.”
While the arts certainly bring a lot of people to Downtown Phoenix, so do other big events, especially professional sports games. With the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks playing right next door to each other, sports fans are constantly moving through the downtown area — and of course they’re hungry.

The Phoenix Convention Center houses what Executive Chef Jesus Cibrian dubs an “upgraded food court” called Metro Marche. It incorporates various stations serving several kinds of food from Asian to American, and it’s open to the public, not just convention attendees. Although most days only two or three stations are open for lunch, Cibrian says if there’s an event taking place, they open more and extend the hours.

“We are what the guests want us to be,” he adds. “We are a chameleon.”

Not only does the convention center provide great food for the community, it provides the community with more business. Since the expansion, the convention center has drawn large numbers of convention-goers to the downtown area and to area restaurants.

“We always contact the heads of the conventions in town,” Cullen notes. By doing so, he says he attracts many convention attendees.

Another recent addition to the flourishing downtown area is Arizona State University’s newest campus. Thousands of young adults travel downtown to take classes, and many of them live there, as well. Many nearby restaurants, particularly Pasta Bar, which is only a block away from the campus, regularly see students as customers.

Even those pricier restaurants with a bigger focus on happy hours benefit from the younger demographic.

“We have a lot of employees from ASU,” Cullen says, even though most students can’t afford to dine at Kincaid’s.

Of course, a lot of downtown dining business still comes from those 9-to-5 professionals. Johnny Chu, owner of the Asian tapas and sake restaurant, Sens, says most of his customers are businesspeople on their lunch breaks or stopping by after work.

One of the biggest changes to the downtown landscape in recent years has been the addition of the light rail, which opened in late 2008. Although it was a nuisance during construction, restaurant owners agree it has ultimately brought more people and business to Downtown Phoenix.

“We were down to 30 percent of our sales” during light rail construction, Cheuvront acknowledges. “People couldn’t even get into our parking lot. But it went back up. Last year was the best year we’ve ever had.”

Chu agrees that the light rail brings more business downtown.

“On the weekends, most of our customers take it in from Tempe or Mesa, so they can avoid a DUI on the way home,” he says.

Wade Moises, owner of Pasta Bar, sees a similar trend.

“A lot of our regulars take the light rail,” he says. “They tend to take it downtown and come here for an inexpensive night on the town.”

So with some help from the new and improved dining scene, Downtown Phoenix has become one of the hottest destinations in the Valley.

“Downtown Phoenix is a little different than downtown in other cities,” says Cullen, who has watched the evolution since Kincaid’s opened 10 years ago.

“We’re in the beginning, growing stages of it. We’re finally starting to see downtown develop into what it’s going to become. It’s been good to see it happen. Everything is moving in the right direction.”

www.cheuvronts.com | www.districtrestaurant.com | www.kincaids.com | phoenix.gov/phxpccd.html | sensake.com | www.pastabaraz.com

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010