Virtual kitchens/food halls continue to gain popularity with the local restaurant industry. Concept Entertainment Group (CEG), owners of Thirsty Lion Gastropub have opened Central Kitchen, a virtual food hall from the kitchen of Chandler’s Thirsty Lion. Arizona is the 4th state to open Central Kitchen which was launched late last year in Oregon then Texas and Colorado. Guests can order from five concepts Soy Joy Kitchen, Southern Jewel, Killer Wings, Pizza & Spice and Thirsty Lion.
“We’ve been fostering the idea of a kitchen focused on takeout and delivery for the last year,” said John Plew, president and CEO of Thirsty Lion Gastropub. “The pandemic put the process into hyper speed, and we saw this as the perfect opportunity to pivot with the climate and launch an idea that aligns with current consumer demands. Central Kitchen fills a need in the restaurant space by providing multiple culinary offerings from one hub. Guests can order the food that everyone in their home is craving under one ticket.”
All menus include scratch made dishes created by Keith Castro, CEG’s VP of Food and Beverage Executive Chef. Guests can order take-out and delivery from one central website with ease and efficiency.
Soy Joy Kitchen specializes in rice bowls, sushi, ramen and other Asian favorites. Southern Jewel offers Southern fried chicken, Nashville hot chicken, sliders and Southern specialties. Killer Wings serves boneless and traditional wings with a variety of house made sauces. Pizza and Spice has a large selection of gourmet specialty pizzas and salads. Don’t forget burgers, salads, sandwiches and more from the Thirsty Lion and vegetarian options are available from most concepts. Starting January 26th Central Kitchen will offer 25% off each to-go meal ordered at the central website.
Twin Peaks Restaurant is opening new location at Tempe Marketplace in February and is hiring over 100 people for jobs throughout the restaurant. The new restaurant is a build-up of over 7,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor dining spaces and a large kitchen.
“We are very excited to introduce Twin Peaks’ delicious scratch-made food and ice-cold beer to everyone in Tempe,” said Franchise Owner Carolyn Vangelos. “With 102 TVs located throughout the sports lodge, Twin Peaks will definitely be the best spot for locals to cheer on their favorite teams. We’ve secured a great location on the south side of Tempe Marketplace, easily accessible from Rio Salado Parkway, so our next step is to hire a talented group of outgoing people to join us in preparation for our grand opening.”
Flexible work hours and a fun work environment is just a couple of reasons to find work at Twin Peaks. They’re hiring 65 Twin Peaks Girls and 35 Heart of the House members including cooks, hostess, bartenders and others. Interested candidates can drop by the restaurant any day of the week from 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. to apply for a job or can apply online.
Once opened the sports bar will serve comfort food, 32 beers on tap including local craft beers and a full bar.
This will be the 4th Phoenix area location and will be at 2050 E Rio Salado Parkway Tempe, AZ 85281. For more information visit their website.
2020 brought many surprises good and bad to the valley’s dining scene. One of the biggest surprises was the return of restaurateur Peter Kasperski in December. He and valley mixologist Richie Moe III have again joined forces to open Character Distinctive Dining in the Roosevelt Arts District. The two have known each other for over 30 years going back to their days in Chicago when Moe’s father was Kasperski’s mentor.
Moe helped Kasperski open Cowboy Ciao in the 1990s then Kazmierz Wine Bar before they went their separate ways. Moe had gone on to open and run cocktail programs at Citizen Public House, The Gladly and Bourbon and Bones. Kasperski has been lying low the last few years plotting his next move since he closed Cowboy Ciao.
Downtown Phoenix’s Character Distinctive Dining is a classic American dinner house with cuisines from around the world made using modern cooking techniques. Kasperski’s love for eclectic wines and Moe’s inventive cocktail list have also made their way downtown from Scottsdale. Some will see similarities with Cowboy Ciao especially the popular dinner events. One of those events is the monthly Somm Showdown with Peter Kasperski and a local wine sommelier go head to head picking the best pairings for a five-course dinner. The first Somm Showdown is Sunday January 24th 2021 with Synergy Fine Wines’ Steve Cannon. Seating is limited to 30 people and dinner is $90 ++ per person.
The pair are also opening Alias, a speakeasy, later this year out back of Character. Three nights a week Moe and Chef Justin “Red” Hauska will create mixology/gastronomy dinners pairing cocktails and food with science and surprises. After dinner starting at 9 p.m. Alias will become a craft cocktail bar until 2 a.m.
Character / Alias is at 218 E Portland St. Phoenix, AZ 85004. For more information check their website, Facebook and Instagram.
When the popular south Tempe restaurant re-opens in mid-January guests will see new faces in the front and back of the house. Executive Chef David Mora, Sous Chef Tyler Moonsoo and Pastry Chef Lisa Graf are new culinary team and General Manager Ashleh Robles runs the front of the house.
Mora will run the kitchen was born in Colombia and raised in Florida where learned to love the diversity of food. He started his restaurant career in Miami before making his way to Arizona. He’s worked at Flagstaff’s Copa Cafe, Mariposa in Sedona and was sous chef at Palo Verde and chef de Cuisine at The Spotted Donkey at The Boulders in Carefree. “I’ve spent more than a decade exploring the complexity of southwest cuisine and I am thrilled to bring what I’ve learned to Ghost Ranch,” Mora said. “I know the restaurant has quickly become a staple in the Tempe community and I hope to continue serving the area authentic dishes with innovative twists.”
Sous Chef Monsoo will help Mora develop and execute the dishes of Ghost Ranch. He has over 15 years of experience in Arizona at The Boulders, Ah-So Sushi and Steak, Obon Sushi and Ramen and Wrights Kitchen at The Arizona Biltmore from Waldorf Astoria.
Pastry Chef Graf rounds out the new culinary team. A native of Colorado, Graf draws inspiration from traveling as a teenager through Europe, learning and tasting local foods. Back in the states she re-located to Santa Fe, New Mexico to launch her culinary career as a pastry chef. After earning her pâtissier certificate she ran pastry programs at James Beard Foundation recognized restaurants La Boca and the Compound. She’s also worked at Mama’s Fish House in Maui and Scottsdale’s Roka Akor and Hotel Valley Ho.
Tempe native Robles takes over as General Manager running daily operations and administration. Starting her career in the hospitality industry at 17 she’s dedicated her career to to customer satisfaction and enjoyment. Her experience in psychology, finance and event planning give her know how to continue to keep customers happy. Customers will notice her creative cocktails, menu pairings and attention to detail in the dining room. She’s worked for more than 10 years in in several roles in high-end lounge, club and bar settings around town.
Ghost Ranch is at 1006 E. Warner Rd. Suite in Tempe. For more information visit their website.
Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.
PHX Beer Co. goes to the dogs
The Scottsdale location with its dog friendly patio is now serving grass fed burgers ($8) and grilled chicken ($5) for man’s best friend. They’ve also started making their own dog bones for purchase at all locations. Puppy friendly ingredients include the breweries spent grain, peanut butter, whole wheat flour and eggs. A portion of sales of single 3 oz. or 18 packs bones are donated to the Arizona Small Dog Rescue.
Los Sombreros Mesa Grand Opening party
Wednesday December 16th is the Grand Opening of the third location of the regional Mexican restaurant. From 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. guests can get 50% off food & drink when you dine-in or take-out except for family meals. Reservations are recommended. The celebration continues Thursday – Sunday with House Margaritas only $3.
Pedal Haus Brewery celebrates with Ugly Sweater Party
The downtown Tempe brewpub celebrates its 5 year anniversary with its traditional party. Wednesday December 16th party goers can win $50 for the Ugliest Sweater, enjoy live music starting at 6 p.m. and Happy Hour all night starting at 3 p.m. VIP tickets are $5 and includes 2 drinks and slice of cake with proceeds going to Rob Dollar Foundation.
Koibito Poke bottles 2 popular sauces.
Customers can now take a bottle or 2 home with them of Island Teriyaki or Spicy Shoyu sauces. Both are gluten-free and made with natural ingredients for the best tasting and healthy sauces. Each bottle is $6.99 and can be purchased at any of their locations around the valley.
New seasonal menu at Pita Jungle
Customers favorite dishes from the past are now on the new “Pita Jungle Favorites, Hello Again” menu at all Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff locations. The new Mediterranean Ramen joins the return of Seared Ahi Tuna Hummus, Burrito of the Sea and Baba Gnoosh.
With the end of 2020 not far off we’re looking to 2021 and the anticipated restaurant openings around town. One of the first is Old Town Scottsdale’s boutique steakhouse Bourbon & Bones Chophouse opening at Gilbert’s SanTan Village in mid-January. Square One Concepts opened its flagship location in September 2016 and is looking forward to opening the 2nd location of its fine-dining concept.
Square One Founder and President S. Barrett Rinzler says “There’s demand for fine dining in the East Valley. We’re honestly thrilled to deliver our specialty chophouse to a community that’s perhaps under-served and appreciates fine food, fine wine, custom cocktails and the taste of great bourbon.
The larger Gilbert restaurant will feature two dining rooms and a private dining room for up to 50 people. A contemporary decor will have white and gray tones and a luxurious bar.
Bourbon & Bones Chophouse meats and bourbons
The large a la carte steak selection will include Wagyu Rib Cap, Bone-in Filet, a Dry-Aged Pork Chop, Lamb Chops and more. Fresh seafood including Seared Ahi Tuna, Chilean Sea Bass and Seared Salmon. Side dishes offered include Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Truffle Mac n Cheese and more.
Sommeliers will oversee the over 1,500 bottle wine list that includes familiar steakhouse wines and smaller lesser known wines for the connoisseur. True to its name Bourbon & Bones Chophouse will offer one of the largest bourbon collections found anywhere. Classic cocktails will be poured as will aged bourbon meant to be sipped.
“Bourbon & Bones was created to offer a high-quality dining experience in a welcoming atmosphere. This one has been in the planning stages for well over a year and means a lot to us; it’s larger than our flagship in Scottsdale. We’ve taken time to carefully develop the interiors and the team is excited to welcome guests in the New Year.”
The dinner only restaurant will serve a daily happy hour when it opens at 4 p.m. Bourbon & Bones Chophouse will be at 2150 E. Williams Field Rd. Gilbert 85295. For more information and updates visit their website.
Local fast casual Mr. Mesquite Taqueria opens its 8th location on Saturday December 12th in Gilbert. It will be the first drive thru for the fast expanding concept founded by brothers Naser and Ahmad Alatrash in 2015 as a walk-up taco stand in Scottsdale’s Entertainment District. Since then they’ve expanded around the Phoenix area and have a location in Illinois.
Their “authentic meets modern” Mexican street food is available for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Meats for their burritos, tacos & quesadillas are grilled over a mesquite charcoal fire gives the meat a fresh smoky smell you notice once you walk in. The menu is simple offering chicken and steak for its popular dishes that are made to order with toppings customers choose. 1, 2, and 3 pound family meals are available with meats, sides and tortillas.
The first 250 guests on Saturday will get free tacos for 6 months. Mr. Mesquite Taqueria have partnered with Academic Opportunity of Arizona for the month December for their toy drive “Toys for Tacos”. Drop off clothes, toys, supplies (make-up, hair products, sewing kits, bedding), sports equipment, games and electronics to any location to get a free taco at the time of drop off.
The first Arizona location of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant opens in Scottsdale this week offering upscale dining, a tasting bar and wine shop. This is the western most and 43rd location of this unique dining concept that opened its first location in 2005.
“Scottsdale and the surrounding Phoenix area has gained a national reputation for fine-dining experiences, making it a natural fit for the Cooper’s Hawk brand,” founder Tim McEnery said. “The year-round beautiful weather, scenic surroundings and its residents’ active lifestyle were also very appealing.”
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant food and wines
The menu has something for everyone no matter your diet and dishes have wine pairing recommendations. Signature dishes include Mexican Drunken Shrimp, Dana’s Parmesan-Crusted Chicken and Shrimp & Scallop Risotto. The menu includes an impressive choice of 4 risotto dishes.
Cooper’s Hawk wines are sourced from across the country then crushed, fermented and bottled at their Illinois winery. Master Sommelier Emily Wines, yes really her name, helps grow the wineries wine club, trains staff staff on wines and helps guests enjoy their experience. Currently there are over 450,000 wine club members, the largest wine club in the country who enjoy discounts, perks and unique experiences and travel opportunities. A full bar is available for those looking for something other than wine.
Entering the restaurant you’re welcomed in the Napa Valley styled wine bar and wine shop before entering the restaurant. Guests can try wines with the help of well trained staff with wines and accessories are available for purchase. One need not dine at the restaurant in order taste wines or make a purchase although the aromas coming from the kitchen will easily change your mind to stay and enjoy a meal.
A Chandler location is planned for 2021 and is in development with a Phoenix location to follow. Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant is at 7361 E Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260. For more information visit their website.
The popular Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers in Old Town Scottsdale is getting a new neighbor next month. That’s when owners Square One Concepts will open Cold Beers & Pizza, Local Pizza Joint next to its “big sister”. The restaurant will feature Midwest style “thin crust” and hand tossed Neapolitan pizzas and 70+ beers on tap, in bottle and can.
Square One Concepts Founder & CEO, S. Barrett Rinzler, said: “It’s a challenging time for all of us in the restaurant industry. But the way we see it, we’ve got to keep living and doing things for the future. This seemed like a natural next step. We now know how to cope with the ‘new normal,’ so we feel confident that we can open a new concept and continue the very best health practices per CDC and Arizona guidelines, for our customers and our staff.
The walk up style restaurant will offer a relaxed atmosphere in the dining room and on the patio. Servers will be on hand to deliver beverages and answer questions and like Cold Beers & cheeseburgers the restaurant will have big screen TVs although fewer. The dining room will be filled with tables and booths for dining.
The menu will include an extensive list of traditional pizzas and a BYOP, “Build Your Own Pizza” options. Gluten free and cauliflower crusts will be offered. Classic pastas, salads and sandwiches give diners options, make sure you save room for dessert.
“In fact, our team is very excited to launch Cold Beers & Pizza, and dovetail, you might say, off our popular Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers brand. We’re working hard to be sure everyone can enjoy this new branch of our restaurant family. We’ve created delicious, straightforward pizza options and a menu we know everyone can enjoy.”
Cold Beers & Pizza will be open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner with happy hour Monday- Friday from 3 – 6 p.m. 4222 N Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251. For updates follow on Facebook and Instagram @ColdBeersPizza
Starting this Saturday August 1st, all 27 Barro’s Pizza locations in the east valley will start serving 8″ Mini Pizzas. West valley locations have been serving Mini’s and now it’s time to roll them out on the other side of town.
In addition the east valley locations will introduce dairy free cheese for any size pizza on request. This will not currently be available to west valley locations. The addition of dairy free cheese compliments the gluten- free options already found at Barro’s.