Halloween specials & events at MXSW sponsors

BY Jess Harter | Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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Baja Joe’s: Halloween party starts at 8 p.m. with live music by Signal 15 and costume contest with $200 in prizes. No cover. Reverse happy hour specials start at 9.

Bourbon Jacks: Halloween Zombie Party all day with 20% of all sales donated to Vista Del Camino and St. Mary’s food banks. Live music from Southern Country from 9:30 p.m.-close.

The Brass Tap: Beer rep James Swann will hold a Halloween beer sampling (Wasatch Pumpkin & Black O’Lantern, Uinta Punk’n, and Twisted Manzanita Witch’s Hair) from 6-8 p.m. followed by live music and a costume contest.

Floridino’s: Get a large, one-topping pizza for $8; buy a dozen pizza muffins and get another dozen for half off; kids 12 and under in costume get a free kids meal.

La Ristra: Live music from Private Eyes from 8 p.m.-midnight. No cover.

The Perch: Spooky food and drink specials from 9 p.m.-close with a costume contest.

Pittsburgh Willy’s: Get three regular-size chili dogs for $5.

SanTan Brewing: Live music from acoustic duo Los Guys from 10 p.m.-1 a.m.

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SanTan Brewing, Wimpy’s Paradise launch weekend breakfast menus

BY Jess Harter | Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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Your breakfast options in downtown Chandler are growing. SanTan Brewing is starting breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, and Wimpy’s Paradise/
Pittsburgh Willy’s
is offering it on Sundays.

SanTan previously offered a Sunday brunch menu, but now it’s doing a full Southwest-style breakfast menu from 8-11:30 a.m. each day. (See menu)

The Big Play Breakfast ($10.75) is a veritable feast of jalapeño corn meal pancakes with agave, chipotle bacon, housemade sausages, jalapeño bratwurst hssh, and spent-grain beer bread.

Other specialities include chicken and waffles ($12.75, pictured above), shrimp and grits ($12.75), strawberry and white chocolate pancakes ($8.75), and a 10-inch breakfast pizza ($10).

An omelet station will offer a half-dozen three-egg omelets ($10.75-$12) featuring green chile pork, BBQ brisket, and the brewpub’s house-made spicy Italian sausage.

Breakfast cocktails include Bloody Marys, mimosas, and margaritas (all $5). SanTan beers will be $3.75.

PittsburghWillysBurritoA few doors south, Wimpy’s Paradise and Pittsburgh Willy’s (which are temporarily sharing a space) are bringing back many of the items the latter once offered at its previous location from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.

Those items include Vic’s Green Chile Burrito ($5.95, pictured), French toast made with cinnamon swirl bread from Bread Connection in Tempe, and Ken’s home fries ($1.95).

Build-your-own scrambles ranges from two-egg ($5.95) to four-egg ($7.95). The menu newcomer is a fried bologna and fried egg sandwich ($5.95). (See menu)

Wimpy’s Paradise and Pittsburgh Willy’s will offer their regular menus of burgers, hot dogs, and more from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

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La Ristra to host Halloween costume contest, dance party

BY Jess Harter | Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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Zappone’s Italian Bistro to hold cooking class Dec. 13

BY Jess Harter | Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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Zappone’s Italian Bistro in Gilbert will host a holiday cooking class at noon Saturday, Dec. 13.

Attendees will learn how to make five dishes: Creamy mushroom soup (pictured), braised pork roast, creamy parmesan polenta, creamy puffs with hazelnut drizzle, and panna cotta.

The class, taught by owner and chef Sal Zappone, runs about two hours and costs $35 plus tax and 18% gratuity.

Reservations are required because classes do sell out. RSVP: 480-218-2338.

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Post image for Queen Creek’s Owls Orchard, Arizona’s tiniest commercial brewery, has big ambitions

A white SUV slowly pulls over and parks in front of an unmarked and unremarkable house on a dead-end street in Queen Creek in the far southeast Valley.

The driver gets out of the vehicle with a glass growler in each hand and makes his way around back where one of three garage doors is open.

“Hey, Marty!” the man says. “I need beer.”

Welcome to Owls Orchard, Arizona’s smallest commercial brewery, which Marty Gerhart runs out of a fenced-off portion of his garage on his acre-plus county-island lot dotted with 47 tangelo trees.

It may be Gerhart’s home, but Gerhart is more than a home brewer. He’s had all the licenses and approved paperwork – county, state, and federal – of a commercial brewery since July 2012.

“The beginning of 2013 is when it really took off,” the 44-year-old Intel employee says of Owls Orchard. “By Christmas, I was selling quite a bit of beer.”

Of course, “quite a bit” is a relative term. Whereas Four Peaks Brewing in Tempe will produce nearly 2.5 million gallons of beer this year, Owls Orchard will put out less than 1,000.

“This is kinda like my pilot brewery,” Gerhart says. “Can I brew beers good enough to sell? I thought I could, but you don’t know until you do it.”

Bitten by the brewing bug

OwlsOrchardSystemAn Alaska native, Gerhart grew up in Delta Junction (2013 population: 948) about 100 miles south of Fairbanks. He joined the Navy at age 18.

He eventually landed a job in Torrance, Calif., where he frequented the Redondo Beach Brewery.

“That was really the first craft beer brewery I drank at,” he says.

He didn’t become interested in brewing his own beer until the next year – 1995 – thanks to his brother, who worked on an eight-man crew at a remote fish hatchery in Alaska.

“They had beer on-site, but the only reason was they had a home brewer there,” he says. “The state would fly in all their food, but they would not fly in alcohol. Yet they would fly in the dry ingredients.”

When Gerhart learned his brother was making beer, he decided to try it for himself.

“Pretty much the next day I went to Sun Devil Liquors and bought a home-brew starter kit,” he says.

Gerhart moved to Chandler, finding an apartment near now-defunct Copper Canyon Brewing, where he was a regular. He also spent a lot of time at long-gone brewpubs Bandersnatch and Coyote Springs.

In 2000, he moved to Portland, where he continued to brew “more and more” at home. By 2004, he found himself back in the Valley – this time in Queen Creek – and ready to try brewing professionally.

2 or 3 beers usually available

OlwsOrchardGrowlerWhen Gerhart decided to launch his “pilot brewery,” he quickly found the process was long and expensive.

Then he learned about home-occupation permits, which allow a home owner to easily convert 20 percent of living square footage into a business.

The tradeoff? Unlike other commercial breweries, he’s not allowed to offer tastings, sell pints, or even put up a sign in front of his house. He’s only allowed to sell beer in growlers.

Still, it was the least expensive way, by far, to get his dream off the ground.

With an extensive work background in fluid systems and chemistry, building a 10-gallon brewing system with a pair of fermenters was a snap for Gerhart.

Finding customers wasn’t so easy.

“It’s all word of mouth and Facebook,” he says. “I don’t do any advertising.”

Owls Orchard sells filled 64-ounce growlers for $15 and does refills (of any growler) for $12. Two or three beers usually are available. One always is Desert Dweller Wheat.

“It’s a nice, easy-drinking beer that everyone can enjoy,” Gerhart says. “It’s really our flagship beer.”

And there’s always a seasonal – Pumpkin Rye in the fall, Gingerbread Porter in the winter, and Tangelo Ale in the spring.

“When I brew the tangelo, I always post on Facebook, ‘Hey, bring a bag. Fill a growler, fill a bag with tangelos,’’’ he says, nodding toward his small orchard.

‘I couldn’t be any happier’

OwlsOrchardFillGerhart estimates the majority of his customers live within 10 miles of Owls Orchard, although he also draws the curious from Phoenix, the West Valley, and even out of state.

“Most people are surprised and very interested in how I got started,” he says. “A lot of people like to have me walk them through (the brewing process), just like if you went to a large microbrewery and took the tour.”

Owls Orchard’s biggest challenge, Gerhart says, is production volume.

“I’ve had several places offer to have my beer on tap, but I just don’t make the volume yet to be able to do that,” he says. “Part of it’s time, because I work a full-time job. A lot of taking the next step is to change my conservative ways and jump into the business.”

For now, though, the husband and father of two young children is thrilled with how things have gone so far.

“I couldn’t be any happier,” he says. “I’m successful at it and everything is going well. The next step is taking that leap of faith as far as being a bigger business.

“The ultimate goal is opening our own production brewery out here in Queen Creek.”

Owls Orchard Brewery, 20518 E. Orchard Lane, Queen Creek (map), typically is open noon-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Get updates on the brewery’s Facebook page. Info: 480-254-4070.

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The Perch celebrates three days of Halloween fun

BY Jess Harter | Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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The Perch in Chandler is starting Halloween early.

Tonight, the restaurant and bar is hosting a Witches and Warlocks party from 7-11 p.m. Come dressed as a witch or warlock and you could win a prize. There will be $3 house wines.

From 9 p.m.-close Thursday, Skalloween will feature Ska Brewing beers, Ska glassware, and Ska swag giveaways. There’ll even be a contest for best ska costume.

From 9.m.-close Friday, The Perch’s first Halloween bash will include spooky food and drink specials and yet another costume contest.

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Wednesday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

BY Jess Harter | Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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Today’s specials and deals from MXSW sponsors:

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It’s Wine Wednesday! Here are today’s East Valley deals

BY Jess Harter | Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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Now open: Revo Pizzabar & Revo Café in Tempe

BY Jess Harter | Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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Joe Risi – one of the founders of now-defunct
Bandersnatch, Tempe’s first brewpub, back in 1988 – is back with another concept: Revo Pizzabar.

The pizzeria is located in the Tempe Transit Center on the northwest corner of Forest and Fifth. That’s about halfway between Mill and Sun Devil Stadium.

Revo celebrated its ribbon-cutting today but already has had a soft opening.

Individual specialty pizzas are $8-$11, or you can make your own creation starting at $6.50 with additional ingredients $1-$1.50. Salads are $8-$10.

Beverages include craft beers, wine by the glass or bottle, and specialty cocktails. (See food and drink menus)

Accompanying Revo Pizzabar is Revo Café, a gourmet coffee stop featuring locally made coffee and pastries.

Revo Pizzabar is open 11 a.m.–midnight daily, and Revo Café is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays.

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Now open: Zzeeks Pizza in Tempe

BY Jess Harter | Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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Zzeeks Pizza, a popular family-owned pizzeria that opened in July 2013 in Ahwatukee, has opened a second location on the northeast corner of Mill and Southern in Tempe.

The new location is only doing dine-in and carryout for its soft opening. Delivery will start this weekend.

Besides 12- and 16-inch pizzas (starting at $9 and $12, respectively), Zzeeks’ menu offers 10 hot sandwiches ($7.49), wings (10 regular or boneless for $7.99), and a couple of pastas ($5.99-plus).

Beer, including 10 on tap, and wine also should be available by this weekend.

Zzeek’s Pizza is open for lunch and dinner daily.

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