Look around any corporate office these days, and the sea of khakis and polos will attest to the move toward business casual attire. That trend, coupled with the rise of chain retailing, has inevitably led to the decline of a venerable institution that once existed in almost every major city: the independent menswear shop. This type of store was always more than just a purveyor of the unspoken corporate uniform; for many, it was a multi-generational tradition. The father-son trip to buy a first suit was a rite of passage. Similar traditions emerged for women as they entered the workplace.
|beet salad with shrimp|
In Phoenix, locally-based Hanny’s closed its final location at Scottsdale Fashion Square in 1994. The void at that mall was easily filled by a new tenant, but Hanny’s older Downtown store, closed since 1986, languished for much longer at the prime corner of First Street and Adams, just a block or two from the Washington / Central (westbound) and Jefferson /1st Avenue (eastbound) light rail stations. It took another trend, adaptive reuse, to bring the Downtown Hanny’s site back to life in 2008 — not as a menswear store, but instead as a bar and restaurant in Phoenix’s downtown core.
|old Hanny’s sign|
Adaptive reuse isn’t cheap, and it’s obvious that Hanny’s is the product of a big investment in renovating the old store. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Hanny’s is owned by Karl Kopp, the proprietor of Scottsdale’s AZ88, and that the design is a product of Janis Leonard, who also designed AZ88. The makeover of Hanny’s was upscale but minimalist; from some angles, the bare bones look might make customers wonder if the place is even open. The restaurant has minimal street presence despite improvements such as new parking meters that double as bike racks.
|combination parking meter and bike rack|
Inside, the look is clean and almost clinical with the staff wearing white jackets and a meat slicer adorning the bar in the center of the room. Upstairs, the restrooms await down a mirrored hallway. Only one elevator is in use; the other shaft is unused with thick glass barriers providing an interesting opportunity to stand unharmed over a gaping hole leading to the basement. Provocative art such as a last supper of dolls or a futuristic figure behind glass can serve as conversation starters during the quiet daytime hours, and DJs fill the space with music later in the evening.
The meat slicer at the bar says a lot about the menu at Hanny’s. Prosciutto and parmesan cheese both play key roles here. What do those ingredients, along with similar items like pistachios and olives, have in common? They’re salty, savory treats that stimulate the thirst and pair well with the flavors of vodka, gin, vermouth, and other traditional cocktail components. Remember, Hanny’s is as much a bar as a restaurant, but it’s not a place for a pint or a longneck. While there is a limited selection of bottled beer, the emphasis is more on wine and classic cocktails.
Some customers may complain about the small size of those cocktails, but at $5 for a classic martini, the prices are equally small. It’s easy to enjoy one as a mini-aperitif or a prelude to a glass of wine later. The food choices are heavy on red meat — not only prosciutto, but also pork loin and roast beef. A sandwich of the latter comes accessorized not only with bacon, but also a fried egg. At the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of meatless options, including a hearty vegetarian sandwich, entree-sized salads, and several pizzas, about half of which are made without meat.
The pizzas are built on a thin, crisp, elliptical crust. New York and Chicago pizza purists may be offended, but it’s a pizza style that works well for a casual nosh with a cocktail. The pizzas are best shared among two or three with combinations with any of the salads or either the snack plate or the bar plate, both of them simple combinations of cured meats, cheeses, nuts, and olives. The tomato sauce used on many of the pizzas is slightly sweet. Among the white pizzas, the Bianco adds goat cheese to the usual blend. It benefits from the addition of arugula, one of many optional toppings.
|Bianco pizza with arugula|
What’s missing from the menu? Poultry and fish. Shrimp, however, is featured in one appetizer with prosciutto and available as an added topping on any of the generous salads. The chopped salad is a deconstructed platter of ingredients such as artichoke hearts, avocado slices, and cherry tomatoes. The beet salad is colorful with slices of both red and gold varieties places atop a bed of arugula, seemingly the favorite green at Hanny’s. Besides salads, vegetables figure in appetizers such as the Cauliflower Calabrese in which grilled florets are decadently augmented with fried onion strings.
|chopped salad with ribeye|
For dessert, Hanny’s take a break from salty bar foods for some sweet notes. The donuts are really donut holes, a plate full of bite-sized specimens with a choice of chocolate or strawberry dipping sauce. The key lime pie, actually a tart for one or two, has a graham cracker crust, green-yellow filling, and artistic swirls of whipped cream. Cannoli and tiramisu add some Italian-American options, and the Symphony Chocolate Crisp Cake not only has the longest name, but also the richest taste thanks to combination of a dark filling and a vanilla ice cream topping.
|key lime pie|
Because of Hanny’s location near the US Airways Center, Symphony Hall, the Herberger Theater, and other Downtown venues, it’s a good choice for a pre-event meal. Happily, the late hours (kitchen cooking until 1 AM and bartenders pouring until 1:30 AM each night) also make it a viable gathering spot after a show or a game — something that Downtown Phoenix has needed for eons. The clientele at Hanny’s may no longer wear sharp suits to either work or play, but the debonair aura of the bar and restaurant is a fitting legacy for a spot that used to clothe the businesspeople of Phoenix.
40 N. 1st St., Phoenix AZ 85004