11 innovative food gods from Arizona who are redefining the food scene
Sam Fox, from Tucson, made national headlines last spring with The Global Ambassador. The hotel experience, which includes a 141-room hotel, is the culmination of over 20 years in the restaurant industry. Fox founded Fox Restaurant Concepts (FRC), a local food group in Arizona that has opened more than 100 restaurants under his leadership, and a brand he continues to lead on a day-to-day basis even after its sale to Cheesecake Factory in 2019. In addition From FRC, there are a number of equally creative and well-managed Arizona-based restaurant groups that keep a constant national spotlight on the local food scene. Here are some of the best and brightest:
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The haunted group
If you’ve been to Cottonwood or Jerome in recent years, there’s a good chance you’ve fallen for Eric and Michelle Jurisin once or twice. The couple own The Haunted Group, which operates The Haunted Hamburger and Grapes in Jerome as well as Crema Craft Kitchen & Bar, Pizzeria Bocce, Nic’s, The Tavern Grill and The Tavern Hotel in Cottonwood. In 2020, the husband and wife team managed to grow by opening The Clinkscale, a Jerome hotel and restaurant of the same name that offers American fusion cuisine with a touch of French flair as well as daily brunches and dinners. regular wine pairings, and in recent months has opened Strada, an eclectic extension of the ultra-popular Pizzeria Bocce consisting of eight industrial-sized shipping containers and featuring a menu of Italian tapas to share and dishes from rue, many with ingredients sourced directly from Italy.
Dahl Restaurant Group
Chef Lisa Dahl is one of the nation’s foremost female chefs and restaurateurs and a pioneer of the culinary scene in Sedona. As Executive Chef and CEO of the restaurant group that bears her name, she oversees five outstanding restaurants in the region: Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano, Cucina Rustica, Pisa Lisa, Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill and Butterfly Burger, A Couture Burger Lounge . In addition to her own group of restaurants, Dahl was also recently announced as Alchemy’s Culinary Director at the soon-to-be-opened Ambiente Hotel in Sedona, where she will feature a menu of her magical food in a personalized Airstream that has been reimagined as a poolside dining destination in the heart of the rugged three-acre property.
This place of projects
Founded in 2009 with the opening of Tinderbox Kitchen in Flagstaff, today That Place Projects is the origin of not only Tinderbox, but both the Annexe Cocktail Lounge and the Tourist Home next door. The three concepts, under the direction of Kevin Heinonen, Nick Williams and Mike Schmitz, work in symbiosis; product and employee sharing, and the wide range of demographics for each restaurant capture the interest of families, students and couples, resulting in business hovering around 20 hours a day. In May 2020, the team signed a lease for a new restaurant space just up the street in the heart of downtown Flagstaff, where they plan to open a fourth concept – an upscale, modern Italian restaurant. with a wide selection of wines and Amari by the end of the year. .
Swap & Shake Creative Hospitality
Founded in 2016 by Jason Asher with the opening of UnderTow, a tiki-inspired concept under the Sip Coffee Bar in Arcadia, Barter + Shake is also the creative team behind the turn-of-the-century-inspired, cocktail-centric venue. Century Grand, opened in 2019. In 2021 and in response to COVID-19, the brand has boldly moved all of its concepts into one space. As a result, Century Grand today presents Platform 19, a top-notch mixology bar located in a historic Pullman-inspired presidential train car that takes guests through the Rocky Mountains via visual and sound effects; Gray Hen Rx, a New Orleans apothecary-themed cocktail bar with experimental alcohol-free spirits alongside low-alcohol cocktails and alcoholic classics that also serves sherbet and ice cream; and UnderTow, a new take on the beloved Tiki concept.
Vivili hotel group
Founded by Skyler Reeves in 2014, Vivili Hospitality Group is Prescott’s largest restaurant group, today employing over 100 people in five successful restaurants, including The Barley Hound, Rosa’s Pizzeria, Taco Don’s and La Planchada, as well as full event and catering service. company, Hawk & Hound. With the goal of putting Prescott on the culinary map, Vivili is committed to not only executing exciting new concepts that provide big city appeal, but also breathing new life into famous staples while maintaining quality. and the charm that locals and travelers have become accustomed to.
In 2001, a trendy indoor-outdoor wine bar called Postino – named after the Italian word for postman because the place was located in a vacant brick building that was once a local post office – opened in Arcadia. And although it was no longer a post office, the small but powerful location delivered night after night, increasing a loyal following across the valley. Its success led to the creation of Upward Projects by Lauren Bailey and Crag Demarco in 2008 with a vision to take vacant or historically relevant buildings in the city and reinvent them into restaurants and bars. In the years that followed, Postino expanded to 15 locations in Arizona, Texas, and Colorado. Today, Upward is also behind Windsor, Churn, Federal Pizza, and Joyride Taco House in the Valley.
Hospitality born and raised
Nick Campisano and Joshua James, originally from Arizona, are the creators of Born and Raised, founded in 2013. Campisano has refined its craft by opening a series of new age salons along the Southern California coast while James has started its journey by creating exquisite cocktails at AZ88. The dynamic duo met while working together at Parlor in Phoenix and have since opened four restaurant concepts together: Clever Koi, which has branches in Central Phoenix and Gilbert; Fellow Osteria in South Scottsdale; Across the Pond in downtown Phoenix; and Clever Ramen, an upscale, fast-casual eatery that serves steamed bao buns and do-it-yourself ramen bowls in their new restaurant space that opened in late spring.
The Major Group
While the Maggiore Group was officially founded by Joey Maggiore, Cristina Maggiore and Flora Tersigni in 2019, its roots began in 1977 when the patriarch of the Maggiore family and renowned chef Tomaso Maggiore – who was born and raised in the region of Sicily in Italy and who passed away earlier this year – opened Tomaso’s in Phoenix. Today, The Maggiore Group offers Tomaso’s concepts as well as The Italian Daughter, Sicilian Baker, Sicilian Butcher and Hash Kitchen throughout the valley. The family-owned and operated brand plans to double in size over the next year, which will include expansion out of Arizona – likely to Houston, Dallas and / or Denver – as well as aggressive growth of current and new concepts. , including a Mexican restaurant. called The Mexicano, Arizona.
Culinary from the middle ground
Common Ground Culinary, owned by award-winning chef Christopher Collins, operates some of the valley’s most recognizable restaurant concepts. Chef Christopher grew up proudly in Phoenix, Arizona, and is a fourth generation restaurateur. Common Ground Culinary started with Grassroots Kitchen & Tap in 2011, and has grown to a total of seven concepts today: Grassroots, Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar, The Collins Small Batch Kitchen, The Macintosh, Wally’s American Gastropub, Sweet Provisions and Arcadia Catering Company. Each of Common Ground’s concepts is specifically designed to fit the neighborhood they live in, and according to Collins, diners can expect three new concepts in the Valley from him next year.
Concepts back to square one
It all started with a cold beer and a cheeseburger. Square One is behind Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers, a laid-back burger restaurant known for its laundry list of half-pound burgers – including one with salted bacon, peanut butter and jelly – a selection from over 130 beers which opened in Scottsdale in 2011. Today the brand has more than a dozen branches in Arizona and two in California. Square One has also expanded to other concepts, including Cold Beers & Pizza, Wasted Grain, Bourbon & Bones Chophouse & Bar and Famous 48 in Scottsdale; The Funky Monk in Tucson; and both Bootlegger and Pacific Beach Shore Club in San Diego.
Genuine Concepts was founded by Tucker Woodbury and Jim Riley in 2006 and quickly gained a reputation for creating unique environments that become defining meeting places for the neighborhood. What started with The Vig Arcadia has grown into a collection of hyper-local, community-based restaurants and bars, filled with authentic people, serving authentic food and drink. Today there are not just five Vig locations across the valley, but Ladera Taverna y Cocina and The Womack in Phoenix, The Little Woody in Arcadia, Campo Italian Bistro and Bar in Scottsdale (in partnership with the award-winning chef James Beard Alex Stratta) and the McMillan in Flagstaff.