It’s been called Sam Fox’s most ambitious project yet, the 53,000 SF space dubbed “The Yard,” featuring the rebel-child, Culinary Dropout.

It recently opened its garage doors to the public at 7th St. just south of Montebello. Fox Restaurant Concepts and WDP Partners spent the past year transforming the old Ducati and Kawasaki garage and dealership.

General contractors were TK Interior Construction (interior and play area) and Urban Edge Builders (shell). The architect was RSP Architects.

The new space will give neighbors and the community a new urban hangout with their favorite modernized gastro-pub food made fresh every day, massive patio with a beer garden atmosphere, ample parking and live music featured every weekend.

The concept will also give restaurant goers a 1,400 SF turf for those favorite Yard and patio games such as ping pong and cornhole. Fox’s soulful Culinary Dropout will be followed by Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend, a new seafood and oyster bar concept scheduled to open in mid-March.

Plans are also in the works to later add future retail at the urban center. Fox gives AZRE readers more insight on how his most ambitious project to date came about.

Q: One doesn’t normally think of redeveloping an old motorcycle store and garage into a restaurant mecca. Who came up with the idea and what were your initial thoughts about it?

A: Along with our partners, it was the area that was really interesting to us. Repurposing an old motorcycle garage was fun. The design was driven by much of the original space – cool big doors, high ceilings, etc. Definitely very unique.

rsz_sam_at_the_yard_approvedQ: The site has an enormous metal canopy overhanging much of the site. How do you intend to incorporate it into the design?

A: It’s integral to everything we are doing. We constantly talk about the importance of shade when developing most anything in the Valley. Re-using a gigantic metal canopy may become the most unusual shade structure in Arizona. It gives the project that much more personality and functionality and helps create an outdoor living room feel at The Yard.

Q: There has been a substantial amount of redevelopment activity in central Phoenix on 7th and Central avenues, but not so much on 7th Street. Do you see this project starting a trend?

A: Absolutely. The demographics in and around 7th Street are terrific and the traffic counts zooming by the site each day are staggering. We hope that if The Yard is successful, it will encourage additional investment in the area.

Q: Is this the first joint venture between Fox Restaurant Concepts and WDP Partners? Are others planned?

A: It is our first venture. We have all known each other for a long time and this project presented itself as an obvious opportunity for collaboration. As for the future let’s see how successful The Yard goes first!

Q: Following an initial emphasis on the Northeast Valley the company is putting more emphasis in Phoenix of late with the Arrogant Butcher in downtown and an expanded North concept on 40th Street. What prompted the big moves into Phoenix?

A: Opportunity. To be an anchor restaurant at such an important project in downtown Phoenix like CityScape. To be a part of an amazing, local restaurant concentration as exists on 40th Street. And to help blaze a redevelopment trail on 7th Street is challenging and intriguing.