The Blue Heron opens alongside Crust Simply Italian in Gilbert

Crust Simply Italian continues their expansion with their newest location in the Verde at Cooley Station development in Gilbert. With the new opening comes the new speakeasy themed cocktail bar, The Blue Heron. It’s not owner Mike Merendino’s first dual concept as his Chandler location of Crust also houses The Ostrich cocktail bar downstairs.

“We have been looking in Gilbert for some time now, and when we found the Verde project in Cooley Station we fell in love with the neighborhood,” says owner Merendino. A Mesa location is expected to open in mid-2023.

The East Coast Italian restaurant serves up classic dishes and pizza Merendino used to make in his father’s pizzeria on New York’s Long Island. Authentic pasta dishes, Italian style Rustica shaped pizza’s and craft cocktails are signature to Crust. Happy hour happens Monday -Friday from 3- 6p.m. and offers specials on their popular appetizers and cocktails.

“Crust Simply Italian is looking forward to serving the local Gilbert community with delicious authentic East Coast Italian food! We want our customers to come in as friends and to walk away feeling like family!” says Merendino.

“Dealer’s Choice” at The Blue Heron

The Blue Heron specializes in craft cocktails and the popular “dealer’s choice” cocktail. The “dealer’s choice” is perfect for those aren’t sure what they want to drink so the bartenders create custom cocktails based on the customer’s preference of ingredients. Merendino continues his Birds of a Feather theme in naming The Blue Heron, a native bird to Arizona. Doors open daily at 5 p.m.

Both Gilbert locations offer catering and have space for private dining and events. Crust opens daily at 11 a.m. and is at 2470 S Recker Rd #101,Gilbert AZ 85296.

Enjoy my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

 

 

Cloud kitchen helps Chesapeake Bay Bistro to expand

Nowadays if you can figure out a successful recipe for running a restaurant the best way to maximize your potential is through expansion. That’s exactly what’s going on at Chesapeake Bay Bistro a year and half after opening in Ahwatukee. Unlike their brick and mortar location the owners opted to open their new location in a cloud kitchen inside the Tempe Food Court earlier this month. They’re not stopping there as third location will also be in a cloud kitchen in their former hometown of San Diego in January 2023.

“For restaurant owners, the past year has been challenging with staffing, higher prices for food supplies and rising costs for rent and utilities,” says James Brown, who co-owns the Ahwatukee-based bistro with his wife, Yolanda. “Adding locations through a food-court style expansion makes sense on many levels.”

Expansion into a cloud kitchen

Working in a cloud kitchen also gives them the opportunity to open new concepts without all the expenses of a brick and mortar location. That’s why the couple is planning to open a Creole/Cajun concept out of Tempe in 2023. Another reason for the expansion into cloud kitchens is CBB is seeing a lot of take-out from their Ahwatukee location.

“We believe that the food delivery model is the future and allows us to fulfill our customer base request,” said Brown said. “Sixty percent of our sales are call in or pickup now.” CBB works with several food delivery services to deliver the hot and fresh seafood dishes for delivery within 15 minutes.

To help alleviate some of the staffing issues of the past few years, the couple’s three grown sons have joined them in restaurants. One son will be running the new San Diego location in the Aztec Food Hub near the San Diego State University campus. The other two sons help out when mom and dad can’t be at the Ahwatukee location.

“Using cloud kitchen locations benefits small mom-and-pop restaurants like ours in several ways, allowing us to keep our labor and maintenance costs down,” Brown said.

The Tempe Food Court location is at 1900 E. 5th St. 85281, not far from the ASU campus and Tempe Marketplace. The Ahwatukee location is at 5033 E. Elliot Rd. Phoenix 85044. For more information visit their website or to order for delivery or takeout check out the delivery services.

 

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

The TLC eXperience returns with Friendsgiving at Agritopia

The monthly supper club is back after taking the summer off with its first dinner of the season Friday, November 18th at Agritopia in Gilbert. Seating is limited for the 4-course dinner created by Chef Tom Baumbach and his team. Cocktail hour starts at 5:30 with dinner at 6:30. Tickets are $150 per person and can only be purchased here.  Tables of 8 or 10 are also available for purchase.

Michael Waltrip Brewing Co. Craft Beer & Music Festival happens Saturday

Tomorrow November 5th welcomes NASCAR fans, country music lovers and beer drinkers to Bell Bank Park starting 6 p.m. The popular Hillbilly Deluxe is the headliner with DJ Jeffro and the Get Lit Dancers opens the show. VIP Happy Hour hosted by Michael starts with early entry at 5 p.m. Tickets for the 21+ older festival are available at BellBankPark.com or at Tixr.

Press Coffee opens today inside Sprouts

The first in-store location of the locally owned coffee roster is now open inside the Sprouts at 3320 N. 7th Ave. Phoenix. All weekend long small drip coffees are $1 and all of the proceeds will be donated to Phoenix Children’s Foundation. Give away will be happening on Saturday and Sunday with more details here.

Loco J’s Tacos & Tequila now open in Cave Creek

Navy veteran Jason Clouse opened his new taco joint in this week making it the first Mexican restaurant to open in town in a long time. He was the former owner of nearby Rosati’s Pizza and sold it to focus on Loco J’s. The restaurant is at 28260 N. Tatum Blvd. and opens daily at 3 p.m.

LDV Winery hiring for their Scottsdale tasting room

Looking to make some extra money for the holidays or keep up with inflation, put your wine knowledge and customer service skills to work in the fun and friendly atmosphere.  Submit your resume to info@ldvwinery.com and learn more about the winery at their website.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

YC’s Mongolian Grill opens a new Scottsdale location

Locally owned YC’s Mongolian Grill returned to Scottsdale last week with the opening its new Loop 101 & Raintree location. Loyal customers couldn’t wait to get back to building their own stir fry bowls as was evident when I visited with owner Geoff Stansic recently. The previous Scottsdale location was at The Pavilions but was shut down with the other 4 locations due to the pandemic. As the pandemic waned and the economy improved Stansic decided to re-open 3 of the locations in Gilbert, Tempe and Scottsdale with a 4th location slated to open sometime in 2023.

“After a tough few years of working through adversity during the pandemic and beyond, we are ready to open the doors to an all-new YC’s experience and reconnect with our Scottsdale customers,” Stanisic said. “We take pride in the food we serve and love being able to provide our customers with the best ingredients and a bowl full of authentic flavor.”

Stansic took over in 1996, five years after the first location in Tempe was opened by the original owner YC. He knew a thing or two about the restaurant business as he was kitchen manager for Hyatt Hotels and Houston’s before going into business for himself. It shows as he greets his returning customers by name, knows what bowls they will build and sauces they will have them tossed with. He even has a few signature sauces named for long time customers. He credits much of the success to his attentive staff, several who have been with since before he took over almost 30 years ago.

YC's Mongolian Grill
Beef & Broccoli bowl

What is YC’s Mongolian Grill?

Folklore has it that in the days of Genghis Khan, his army would cook their food on their shields over a hot fire, similar to how it’s done at YC’s. In each location after you’ve piled high your meats, vegetables, noodles and sauces the cooks will grill them on 600 degree circular flat top grill in full view. During peak times 4 cooks will toss the ingredients on the grill rotating around the grill.

There is no one demographic at YC’s Mongolian Grill as the food has something for everybody. Vegan and gluten free diets can be accommodated as there are plenty of vegetables, noodles and sauces for all.  Want meat in your bowl, add white or dark meat chicken, pork and or beef with shrimp available during dinner. Don’t be afraid to pile your ingredients high, it’s encouraged. Their signature noodles are sourced from Chinatown in L.A. with vegetables coming from local distributors.

A separate bowl is used combine ingredients for your Asian inspired sauce. A menu board offers several signature sauces recommending how much and which water based sauces and rice wines to use. The staff is always nearby to help create your sauce before grilling making tastes and combinations endless.

Free Stir Fry Day

To celebrate the new location, customers coming in Wednesday, November 2nd will get free small bowl from 11 a.m. – 7p.m. The new location is at 14850 N. 87th St., Scottsdale, AZ. For more information visit their website.

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Arizona Restaurant Week kicks off today

10 days (Sept. 16th -25th) filled with special multi-course menus at over 100 Arizona restaurants. The Arizona Restaurant Association’s twice annual celebration has meals at three price points $33, $44 & $55. I’m visiting restaurants I’ve never been to and can’t wait, see the full list of restaurants and menus at the ARW website, reservations highly suggested.

Third Tuesday dinner at Romeo’s

The popular downtown Gilbert restaurant hosts its monthly dinner coming next Tuesday September 20th. The 3 course menu starts with Char- Siu Pork Soba Noodle salad followed by Jägerschnitzel and Chocolate Carrot Cake Pops for dessert. $39++ includes wine pairings for each course with the dinner starting at 6:30 p.m. For reservations call 480-962-4224.

Still time to enjoy Serrano’s September specials

Early birds can head in starting at 3 p.m. for the Early Bird menu for $9.99. Available Tuesday – Thursday until 5 p.m. get an entree and more with 2 sides at all 4 locations. Get $10 off all to-go orders of $50 when you order take-out online, use promo code GET10. Food & drink specials include Fall Flight of margaritas including Passion-Fruit, Orange Cherry & Mango and Raspberry ($10.99). Ernie’s Pronto Burrito is filled with carne asada and all your favorite burrito fixings ($13.99). Save room for dessert and get a Snickerdoodle Delight for just $5.99.

Koibito Poke donating $2 of each Signature Bowl sold

If you’ve order a Signature Bowl in September you’ll be glad to know $2 went to the Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children. Its part of their promotion as September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. Choose from 5 Signature Bowls at all 4 locations in Scottsdale, Phoenix (Arcadia) and Chandler until the end of the month to continue raising money.

Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers at Chase Field is now open

The newest location of the popular burger joint opened in downtown Phoenix in the left field of the ballpark. The new location will be open year round for lunch and dinner with guests able to enjoy all their favorite burgers, totchos, hot dogs and more. Exclusive at this location is The Big Unit, named after Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, the cheddar cheese filed Juicy Lucy burger comes with LTO and served between two grilled cheese sandwiches.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Mystical Pizza Festival launches this weekend in Sedona

Restaurateur and chef Lisa Dahl is celebrating the opening her Oak Creek Village location of Pisa Lisa in a mystical Sedona way. The new Mystical Pizza Festival starts this Friday, September 16th and goes all weekend long with a pizza dough ribbon cutting, flying saucer unveiling, a cookbook signing and more.

The festivities start Friday at 5 p.m. with Kick-Off party and a welcome from the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, a Dedication and Blessing ceremony by an Uqualla medicine man and Drumming Ceremony with Sabina Sandoval. Saturday and Sunday starting at 11 a.m. guests can enjoy sound therapy, a gelato tasting, astrology readers, doggie meatball tasting with Chef Lisa, animal massages and more.

The Mystical Pizza Festival goes until 5 p.m. and there is no cost to attend but some weekend events may have a cost. Guests are encouraged to wear mystical attire for the many photo opportunities. Pisa Lisa is at 6657 AZ-179 Ste D1, Sedona, AZ 86351

 

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

50 days to celebrate 50 years at Organ Stop Pizza

From Saturday August 20th through Saturday October 8th guests can help celebrate this monumental anniversary with food specials. The $50 meal deal gets you two large pizzas with unlimited toppings (not including extra cheese), two appetizers (combo basket excluded) and two pitchers of soft drink. There will also be nightly food and merchandise giveaways and Sundae Funday with 50% off small and large sundaes.

Spanish Wine Tasting at GenuWine Arizona

Thursday August 25th join the downtown Phoenix wine bar for 4 unique Spanish wines from 6-8 p.m. It’s free for wine club members and $10 for non-members. The 4 wines will be 20% off during the event. You can RSVP here.

Pork on a Fork finally opens Chandler restaurant

BBQ fans can now get their fill as the long delayed opening happened this month. The official grand opening is Wednesday September 7th with the first 50 guests getting a free swag bag. The restaurant is open Tuesday – Sunday at 11 a.m. and located at 1972 N. Alma School Rd. Chandler 85254.

Pumpkin is back at Dunkin

The un-official sign that Fall is just around the corner, Dunkin introduced several pumpkin flavored drinks and foods this week. Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, a Pumpkin Spice Latte and new Nutty Pumpkin Coffee are on the beverage side. A glazed pumpkin donut, Pumpkin Munchkins donut holes and a pumpkin muffin are available to snack on. Other seasonal flavors include a Blood Orange Refresher, a Maple Sugar Bacon Breakfast Sandwich and Maple Sugar Snackin’ Bacon.

Anoche Cantina now open

The new Mill Ave. restaurant and nightclub is now open daily at 11 a.m. until late in the night. Read about what to expect at my post earlier this month.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

A new modern look at Federico’s 25th location in Tolleson

The locally owned Mexican fast food restaurant shows off a new modern look and the same classic tacos, burritos, tortas and more. The new location at 220 N. 83rd Ave. is open 24 hours a day offering daily and Taco Tuesday specials. Co-owners Isidro Araiza, Ricardo Araiza and Carlos Vazquez opened the first Federico’s in 2005 with other locations throughout the Phoenix area, Arizona and New Mexico.

3rd Tuesday dinner at Romeo’s Euro Cafe

Three courses paired with California wines is how Chef Romeo Taus shows off his popular dishes and his next dinner is Tuesday August 16th. $39.00 gets you a seat at the table; reserve your seat by calling 480-962-4224.

Walter Station Brewery’s Ale Wagger to raise funds for life saving pet programs

The local brewer and Arizona Animal Welfare league (AAWL) team up for the new Ale Wagger for the rest of the summer or while supplies last. On Saturday August 20th celebrate with a launch party from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. to load up on some beer, food and puppy cuddles. A portion of the proceeds will go towards vet services, vaccinations, pet education and more.

Back to school deals at Picazzo’s in August

Every Monday this month Buy One, Get One 50% off lunch combos and Kid’s Eat Free on Wednesday’s. Lunch is from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and kid’s 12 and under get a free Junior Meal with a purchase of $25 or more. Available at all 6 locations in Phoenix and Sedona.

White Castle opening 2nd Arizona location

Love them or hate them, east coast and mid-westerners have an affinity toward these sliders. A new Tempe location has been announced with a mid-2023 opening planned. The first Arizona location opened in 2019 on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Reservation off the Loop 101 in Scottsdale.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Miracle Mile Deli celebrates National Sandwich Month

Starting Monday August 1st the central Phoenix deli is serving up a weekly sandwich special for only $12. 8/1-8/6 – Corned Beef Sandwich 8/8-8/13 – Brisket Sandwich 8/15-8/20 – Combo (Pastrami & Corned Beef) 8/22-8/27 – The Straw. Each sandwich comes with a choice of sides and a dill pickle spear.

Phoenix City Grille offers exclusive Caymus Vineyards tasting event

Wednesday August 3rd join the vineyard’s Arizona Market Manager Stephanie Martindale for a tasting of five wines. Enjoy sipping on Emmolo Sparkling, Mer Soleil Reserve Chardonnay, Sea Sun Pinot Noir, The Walking Fool Red Blend and Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon. Wines tasted during the event will be available for purchase with limited seating costing $25 ++ per person. Reservations can be made by contacting Britinee Reed at 602-510-7170 or privatedining@phoenixcitygrille.com

Hearth ’61 welcomes Chef Eugenia Theodosopoulos

The Chef and owner of Essence Bakery Cafe in Arcadia will be the guest chef at the restaurant’s Sunday Supper Club in August. The four-course dinner is set for August 14th at 6 p.m. and is paired with wine. Seats are $189++ per person and can be reserved here.

Sardinia’s food featured at Queen Creek Olive Mill’s dinner

The Italian region’s flavors and foods will be on prepared for August’s Tavalo dinner. Thursday August 18th from 6:30 -9:30 p.m. guests will dine on a 6-course’s with optional wine pairings. Much of the ingredients are locally sourced including from Golden Rule Dairy in Elfrida. Dinner is $124.99 per person and wine pairings are an additional $39.99. Reservations can be made here.

Caffe Vita opens tomorrow with FREE oat milk lattes.

The Seattle based coffee roaster opens its first Arizona location in the former Easley’s Fun Shop at 5th Ave. & McDowell Rd. Lattes will be available from 7 a.m. – 6p.m. Read more about the opening and more here.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Caffe Vita joins the Phoenix coffee scene with 1st Arizona location

Phoenicians can’t get enough coffee and on Saturday July 30th there will be a new place to get your daily cup of go-go juice. Seattle’s Caffe Vita opens its ninth location nationwide and first in Arizona in the former Easley’s Fun Shop at 509 W. McDowell Rd. To celebrate their arrival, all day Saturday their giving away a FREE oat milk lattes.

Paying respect to the former tenant and its history in Phoenix, Caffe Vita is preserving several aspects of Easley’s including their signature bright yellow sign “Our business is fun”. Also renting out space in the building will be brewery Roses by the Stairs and men’s clothier Cave and Post.

“It was important for us to give a nod to the beloved business that once called this space home, and we worked with Carol Easley and family to preserve as much of the building as possible while constructing a space that’s uniquely Caffe Vita,” said Deming Maclise, Owner and CEO of Caffe Vita. “We think Phoenix residents will be pleasantly surprised at how much this space feels like an evolution of the location, rather than a takeover.”

Coffee and more at Caffe Vita

Beans will be roasted in a vintage Probat UG 22 and will be overseen by Director of Coffee Sam Spillman. Spillman is the 2019 United States Barista Champion and brings a wealth of knowledge and kindness to the job.

Guests can sip on signature coffee drinks such as Caffe Del Sol Espresso, single origin coffees and Oatdos. The latter is a cortado made with oat milk. Seasonal drinks including the Cold Brew Shandy and Prickly Pear tonic will be exclusive to the Phoenix location. To keep cool on hot days there will also be a selection of slushy drinks.

La Grande Orange Bake Shop, Yo Donut and Suss Pastries will provide locally made pastries and breakfast specialties. On the menu you’ll find a Prickly Pear Fruit Pocket, gluten free and vegan Passion Fruit donuts and more.

Caffe Vita will be open daily from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. For more information visit their website.

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