Rancho de Tia Rosa in Gilbert has reopened under new ownership, just two months after previous owners Dennis and Liz Sirrine closed the five-year-old Mexican restaurant in the wake of their management group’s bankruptcy filing.

No word yet on who the new owners are, but I’ve confirmed they’re not Jim and Karma Gifford, who bought the Sirrines’ original restaurant, Rosa’s Mexican Grill on the northwest corner of Mesa and University in Mesa, in 1999.

Last year, the Giffords also took over the original Rancho de Tia Rosa location on McKellips, between Lindsay and Val Vista, in east Mesa that the Sirrines had launched in 2001 and closed in late 2014. It has been renamed Hacienda de Rosa’s.

In 2010, the Sirrines embarked on an agressive expansion plan, opening additional Rancho de Tia Rosa restaurants in Chandler and Gilbert, as well as a taqueria in Gilbert, but only the Gilbert Tia Rosa’s survived.

Now that restaurant, which had closed in May, is back open with the same name, same menu, and (mostly) same staff.

Just to add to the confusion, though, the Sirrines have opened a cantina called Rancho de Tia Rosa on the northeast corner of Greenfield and Brown in east Mesa.

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I stopped at Ginger Monkey to get an update from owner Doug Collins on his latest project, which is taking shape in the former Whiskey Rose Saloon building on the southwest corner of Arizona Avenue and Ocotillo.

Although there’s still some construction work to do, Collins says he’s hoping to open in September.

Despite what connotations the name may have, it’s not an Asian restaurant, but rather a restaurant/bar/grill/roadhouse/sports bar hybrid, according to Collins, who’s partnering with Jackson Armstrong.

(Collins has opened restaurants and bars from San Diego to Atlanta, but is best-known in the Valley for the Tavern on Mill in Tempe and Public Garage House in Ahwatukee, both of which he sold.)

Ginger Monkey’s menu will fall under the catch-all “New American.‘‘ It’s still being developed, but there are few restrictions, given the kitchen occupies 2,000 of the building’s 6,600 square feet.

The Ginger Monkey name, if you’re wondering, comes from Collins’ fascination with monkeys. In fact, he’d like to open several spinoffs with various ‘‘(Blank) Monkey’’ names, such as Red Monkey, etc.

The entrance is being moved from the middle of the north side to the northwest corner. A front patio will be built between the building and Ocotillo.

There’ll be a full bar with 30 beers on tap. Like Whiskey Rose, Collins would like to do live music on weekends.

‘‘If that’s what customers want,’’ he says. ‘‘I’m waiting for the neighborhood to tell me what we should have.’’

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Post image for The Baked Bear to open 2nd AZ location in downtown Tempe in August

The Baked Bear to open 2nd AZ location in downtown Tempe in August

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Baked Bear, a San Diego-based chain of ice cream sandwich shops that made its Arizona debut in Scottsdale two months ago, is opening a second location in downtown Tempe.

It’s taking over the space on the northwest corner of Mill and Fifth Street that housed Gigi’s Cupcakes, which closed late last year.

The Baked Bear offers customers their choice of house-made ice cream sandwiched between two fresh-baked cookies.

Prefer something other than cookies? The Baked Bear also offers brownies and donuts to pair with your ice cream.

The Baked Bear will be the second ice cream sandwich shop in downtown Tempe. Slickables has been operating since 2012 on the northeast corner of Mill and Seventh.

Look for The Baked Bear to open in August.

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Arizona Breakfast Weekend – an Arizona Restaurant Association promotion that debuted last summer to a collective yawn from Valley diners – is giving it another try.

From Thursday through Sunday, participating Valley breakfast and brunch restaurants will offer special dishes for $7, $10, or $15. 

(Pictured: The Green Chile Breakfast Burrito at Chase’s Diner.)

Forty-eight restaurants have signed up, although First Watch locations account for 14 of them, Wildflower a dozen, and Over Easy four.

Other than those chains, the only East Valley participants are Chase’s Diner in Chandler, Liberty Market in Gilbert, T.C. Eggington’s in Mesa, and Ncounter in Tempe.

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New Belgium Brewing continues its 25th anniversary tour of the Valley with a mini tap takeover from 5-7 p.m. today at The Brass Tap at Mesa Riverview.

Featured on tap will be the six beers in the Colorado brewery’s recently released ‘‘Collabeeration’’ 12-packs, featuring ‘‘reinterpretations’’ of its flagship Fat Tire amber ale:

  • Fat Tire
  • Fat Funk Ale (collaboration with Allagash Brewing)
  • Fat Sour Apple Ale (with Hopworks Urban Brewery)
  • Fat Hoppy Ale (with Firestone Walker Brewing)
  • Fat Pale Ale (with Rhinegeist Brewery)
  • Fat Wild Ale (with Avery Brewing)

Also on tap will be New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Tart Lychee, an American wild ale.

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Post image for Wednesday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

Wednesday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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I stopped by Brooklyn V’s Pizza in Gilbert today to check out its expansion work. The restaurant, located on the northeast corner of Lindsay and Warner, is building an addition over its former patio to create capacity for another 30 or diners.

Since opening in late 2013, Brooklyn V’s has become a favorite of neighborhood residents and Big Apple expatriates alike, drawing large crowds on weekends for its popular live music performances.

Because the new space will be separated from the current dining room by a glass wall and door, it’ll also make a great venue for meetings, as well as birthday, anniversary, and graduation parties.

Look for the new addition to be ready in early September.

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Colorado’s Odell will be the featured brewery for this month’s beer dinner at 7 p.m. Wednesday at JC’s Steakhouse in Gilbert.

The menu will feature five beers and four dishes prepared by chef-owner Dennis Petty:

  • Social beer: Odell Drumroll American pale ale.
  • 1st course: Negimaki (rolled beef strips with teriyaki sauce and scallions), paired with Odell 90 Shilling Scottish-style ale.
  • 2nd course: Peach bisque and fresh peach salad, paired with Odell Tree Shaker imperial peach IPA.
  • 3rd course: Odell-marinated chicken, langostino pasta, sautéed pears, carrots, scallions, and green peppers, paired with Odell IPA.
  • 4th course: Chef DP’s lemon logs, paired with Odell Myrcenary double IPA.

Cost is $35 per person. RSVP: 480-306-4545.

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Coconut’s Fish Café, a Hawaii-based fast-casual seafood chain, has opened its third Arizona location on the southwest corner of Alma School and Ocotillo in south Chandler.

The concept features surfboard-shaped tables and specializes in fish tacos, seafood chowder, and grilled mahi mahi and ono. Menu prices range from $11-$15.

A liquor license allows the restaurant to serve craft beer and wine.

The original Coconut’s Fish Cafe debuted in Maui in 2009. Valley resident Kim Kuhljuergen discovered it while on vacation in 2010, and opened its first mainland location in north Scottsdale in 2013.

Kuhljuergen added a second location at Scottsdale and Shea in 2015.

‘‘We have had people driving to enjoy our food from the East Valley for years,’’ he says. ‘‘We are delighted to give them an option in Chandler.’’

Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

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Hot on the heels of Lou Malnati’s move to the Valley, another iconic Chicago deep-dish pizza icon is headed to Arizona.

Gino’s East, a Windy City institution since 1966, will move into a new building on the site of the recently closed Hazelwoods First Place on the northeast corner of 36th Street and Indian School in east Phoenix.

The new 4,400-square-foot building and patio will seat up to 200 people. It is scheduled to open in September.

‘‘We’re looking forward to bringing Gino’s East’s longstanding tradition of deep dish to the people of Arizona,’’ says Jordan Himmel of Bravo Restaurants, which owns all five Gino’s East locations in downtown Chicago.

‘‘The popularity of Gino’s East is obvious based on the amount of frozen pizzas shipped to the Valley every year,’’ he adds.

This actually is the second time Gino’s East has tried to enter the Valley market, following an ill-fated attempt in Tempe in the 1990s.

Gino’s East currently has 18 locations in Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, and Mexico City.

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