Modern Grove closes Mesa location, 2 others still open

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Modern Grove Neighborhood Eatery & Market, a two-year-old casual restaurant with a front lawn patio, has closed its doors on the northwest corner of Gilbert and Brown in north Mesa.

The concept – which offers a menu of burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas – is the brainchild of developer Aaron Klusman, the founder of Chandler-based Zoyo Yogurt.

Modern Grove launched in Flagstaff in 2013 and eventually opened three Valley locations with plans for more. It’s now down to two locations: Scottsdale and northeast Phoenix.

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Vintage 95 Chandler AZ Vintage 95, a five-year-old restaurant and wine bar in downtown Chandler, closed its doors over the weekend.

But there is some good news: A brand-new concept from some well-known East Valley restaurateurs is taking its place.

The new venture is a partnership between Julian Wright, owner of Pedal Haus Brewery in downtown Tempe, and Jim Bob and Kelsey Strothers, owners of Worth Takeaway in downtown Mesa.

‘‘It will be called Equal Parts and be equal parts bar and restaurant with fairly equal indoor-outdoor dining environments,’’ Wright explains.

At this point, final details are still being worked out.

‘‘We will most likely have an exhibition kitchen featuring rustic northern Italian cuisine cooked over hardwood and featuring many local food partners,’’ Wright says. ‘‘We’ll also have local craft beer and a good cocktail program.’’


Wright (pictured) is well-known to Mill Avenue diners. His previous concepts include The Library, La Bocca Urban PizzeriaModern Margarita, and The Handlebar, among others.

Wright sold La Bocca and Modern Margarita last year, and the new owners expanded each to downtown Chandler. Now Wright is heading that direction, too.

‘‘We’re excited to join our other restaurant friends in Chandler as we think downtown Chandler has a great vibe and we love the historic nature of the 95 W. Boston building,’’ he says.


Craig and Tricia Hills, along with Gavin Jacobs, opened Vintage 95 in November 2011, taking over short-lived Asian restaurant Siracha.

Jacobs eventually left the restaurant and launched The Brickyard Downtown just two doors down.

Look for Equal Parts to start construction in May and open in September.

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Southwest Cajun Fest

From noon-9 p.m Saturday, Angry Crab Shack, Creole Cajun Bistro, and Eddy Dee’s will be among the restaurants providing Cajun food in downtown Chandler. The fest also will feature live music and themed zones such as Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, and the Garden District and more. Patrons of all ages are encouraged to dress in festive parade-style attire. Eating competitions will include watermelon, Cajun wings, and crawfish.Admission is $8 online or $10 at the gate.

Frozen Creamery grand opening

Although it’s been open for five months, Frozen Creamery in Gilbert finally will throw a grand-opening party this weekend. Today, there will be cold brew shake samples (all day), Miranda the Lipstick Reader (6-7:30 p.m.), and live music (7:30-9:30); Sunday, cold brew float samples (all day) and Ursa the Frozen Creamery Princess (1-3).

Hob Knobs 9th anniversary

Chandler sports grill Hob Knobs will celebrate its ninth anniversary with live music tonight, the Blackhawks NHL playoff game Saturday, and a 3 p.m. pig roast Sunday. Specials (available 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and all day Sunday) will include $1 Jell-O shots, $2 Old Style cans, and $3 domestic drafts.

Jolie’s Place 5th anniversary

From 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, Jolie’s Place in Chandler will host ‘‘A Taste of Old-Time Chandler,’’ featuring barbecue dishes and live music. Games will include Corn Hole and horseshoes, and there will be raffles and drawings to support Fans Across America.

Danky’s Free Bar-B-Q Day

From noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Danky’s BBQ in Phoenix will hold its second annual benefit for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The barbecue is free, and 100% of donations and T-shirt sales will be donated. The rest of the day, all tips and 20% of sales will be donated.

AZ International food trucks

From 6-10 p.m. Saturday, AZ International Marketplace in west Mesa will host its first food truck festival. Participating trucks will include The Lemongrass Shack, Flippin’ Rice, and Thai Saap. There also will be a live DJ, free face painting, free raffles, and bouncy houses for kids.

Bar Viñedo’s Spring Fling

From 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Queen Creek wine bar Bar Viñedo will throw its second annual Spring Fling with complentary wine, beers, and spirits tastings and great discounts on purchases to take home. There also will be live music and 15-plus local vendors.

French Toast Eating Contest

From 10 a.m.-noon Sunday, recently opened Even Stevens in Tempe will hold an all-ages contest during brunch with a $25 gift card for first place. All-you-can-eat French toast is $3.75. Space is limited, so email to sign up.

Sausage Fest at Brat Haus

From noon-8 p.m. Sunday, Brat Haus will be serving several kinds of brats, pretzels and a variety of craft beers. They’ll attempt to best their state-recond 120-foot brat, plus there will be stein-holding and Giant Jenga competitions. Admission is a $5 donation to Honor Flight.

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Coming to Gilbert: Rudy’s Bar-B-Q & Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Proving that not all restaurants coming to Gilbert are opening downtown:

Texas-based Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q will open its second East Valley restaurant on the northeast corner of Higley and Baseline. The chain made its Arizona debut in west Chandler in 2012.

Although the original Rudy’s opened in 1929, it didn’t start serving BBQ until 1989. Unlike most Texas BBQ joints, Rudy’s uses oak instead of mesquite to smoke its meats.


Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, a chophouse chain out of North Carolina, will open its second E.V. location on the northwest corner of SanTan Village Parkway and Williams Field at SanTan Village.

The first E.V. location opened at Chandler Fashion Center more than a decade ago. Firebirds grills its meats over over hickory, oak or pecan.

No opening date for either restaurant has been announced.

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Essence Bakery Cafe in Tempe to close at end of May

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Sad news for East Valley macaron lovers: After 10 award-winning years, Essence Bakery Cafe in Tempe is closing at the end of May.

The restaurant and bakery, located on the southeast corner of Hardy and University, serves a European-inspired menu for breakfast and lunch.

The signature menu item, though, is chef-owner Eugenia Theodosopoulos’ macarons, made fresh daily and available in more than a dozen flavors.

Although Theodosopoulos and husband Gilles Combes decided not to renew the Tempe lease, their three-year-old Phoenix location on the southeast corner of 38th Street and Indian School remains open.

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Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream closes Tempe location

BY Jess Harter Monday, April 17, 2017


Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream has closed the Tempe location it took over just last summer. The location, on the northeast corner of McClintock and Southern, previously was home to Nello’s Pizza.

Iowa-based Happy Joe’s entered the Arizona market by opening a Gilbert location in June 2015. It took over Nello’s in Tempe in June 2016 and briefly tried to operate the latter as a hybrid of the two concepts.

Happy Joe’s lays claim to inventing the taco pizza – dubbed the Taco Joe (pictured), its bestseller – in the early 1970s.

The Happy Joe’s in Gilbert remains open.

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Fast-growing Huss Brewing opens its Phoenix taproom today at Uptown Plaza on the northeast corner of Central and Camelback in Phoenix.

Launched in 2013 by Jeff and Leah Huss, the south Tempe brewery bought Papago Brewing last year and is now the third-largest brewery in Arizona. Its popular brews include Scottsdale Blonde, Magic in the Ivy pale ale, and Koffee Kolsch.

The Phoenix taproom features 15 Huss beers on tap and a menu of shareable appetizers (see food and drink menus). Patrons also can order food from neighboring restaurants, including Lou Malnati’s Pizza, Shake Shack, Chipotle, and Zookz Sandwiches.

“Just like our Tempe Taproom, we wanted to create a comfortable space where people can relax, sip our beers, and enjoy food from a multitude of area restaurants,” Leah Huss says.

The taproom hours are 3-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and noon-8 p.m. Sunday.

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Taxation is Theft release

Tax Day is fast approaching, and the Beer Research Institute in Mesa is marking the occasion by tapping a new beer: Taxation is Theft. The dry Belgian saison is brewed with Darjeeling tea in a nod to the tax-protest Boston Tea Party. All weekend, BRI will be selling Taxation is Theft tax-free; that is, the brewpub will pay the tax for you!

Four Peaks turns 20

Four Peaks celebrates its 20th anniversary Saturday with a concert lineup headlined Blues Traveler at its Wilson Street taproom in Tempe. Door open at 3 p.m. for the event, which also includes food trucks, a photo booth, a time capsule, and lots of Four Peaks beers. If you didn’t buy your tickets in advance you’re out of luck – the event is sold out.

Press Coffee tasting

Did you know Press Coffee in Chandler holds Coffee 101 tastings on the first and third Saturdays of every month, including this Saturday at 10 a.m.? Learn the histories, geographies, and flavors of four different coffees in the one-hour interactive class. Cost is $10, but you get a $10 gift card so basically the tastings are free! RSVP:

Tombstone tap takeover

Recently opened Tombstone Brewing is fast becoming a favorite of Arizona beer drinkers. Find out what all the fuss is about when The Whining Pig in Gilbert hosts a Tombstone tap takeover from 4-7 p.m. Saturday. A tap list hasn’t been announced, but the brewery has been getting raves for its Northeast-style hazy IPA and Norwegian Farmhouse IPA.

Easter Sunday brunches

Before heading out to your regular Sunday brunch this weekend, remember it’s Easter Sunday and restaurants will be busy. There also are some specials. For example, Bourbon Jacks in downtown Chandler has a special menu, The Perch will have $5 mimosa and Bloody Marys, and Pier 54 in Tempe will have food and drink specials plus lakeside live music from noon-2 p.m.

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Chicago-based Gino’s East to open April 24 in east Phoenix

BY Jess Harter Thursday, April 13, 2017


Gino’s East, a Chicago favorite for deep-dish pizza since 1966, will open its first Arizona location at 4 p.m. Monday, April 24, on the northeast corner of 36th Street and Indian School in east Phoenix.

A new 4,400-square-foot-building and patio has been constructed on the site that formerly was Hazelwoods First Place.

Says Jordan Himmel of Gino’s East parent company Bravo Restaurants, ‘‘The wait is finally over, and we are pleased to be able to bring a little piece of Chicago to the Valley of the Sun.”

Besides its signature deep-dish pizza, Gino’s East has thin-crust pizza, sandwiches, and salads. A full bar offers craft beer, cocktails and wine.

Ten percent of all opening-day proceeds will be donated to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Customers can enter a raffle for a chance to win a free monthly pizza for a year.

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April 13: Smoke & Mirrors beer dinner at SunUp Brewing in Phoenix

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Fresh off its April Fool’s Day-themed beer dinner, SunUp Brewing in Phoenix is hosting a Smoke & Mirrors beer dinner – ‘‘where nothing is as what it appears’’ – at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 13.

The evening features five SunUp beers and four dishes:

  • App: Smoked pork sausage with fresh fruit and seared potato.
  • Salad: Spicy cabbage with smoked red peppers, carrots, and zucchini, with cucumbers and avocado emulsion.
  • Entree: BBQ beef brisket with cheesy cauliflower, and golden beets.
  • Desserts: Smoked white chocolate with candied brioche and fresh raspberries and honeydew.

A vegetarian version also is available. Cost is $30 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the brewpub or online.

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