There’s been a lot of change on Roosevelt Row lately, and not everyone is happy about it. Although a new wave of construction has realized dreams of residential density near transit, there has been a resistance of sorts, based on perceptions of gentrification and a desire to preserve old buildings scattered amid vacant lots. A frequent gathering place for this resistance was Jobot, the coffee house and cafe formerly on Fifth Street. When a rent dispute caused Jobot to vacate its home at the end of 2016, there was even more outcry over the rapid transformation of the area. Continue reading
Have we reached peak food truck? That’s a question various culinary pundits have been asking for the past few years. Locally, the popular Food Truck Friday event at the Phoenix Public Market was quietly discontinued last year. If food trucks don’t seem quite the craze they were a few years ago, maybe it’s because some aspects of their approach have found their way indoors with small-scale restaurants now serving the type of fare normally associated with mobile operations. The Dressing Room, a self-proclaimed “micro-restaurant” on Roosevelt Row, fits this description. Continue reading
A saying attributed to the activist and author Jane Jacobs is that “new ideas need old buildings.” If that’s true, then the 1924 Luhrs Building seems like an ideal incubator for innovation. Among the Luhrs office tenants, that means various start-up firms. On the culinary front, the main attraction on the ground floor of the Luhrs Building is Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour. Cocktails are of course an old concept, but their revival is a contemporary trend, especially when the beverages are paired with Asian-inspired bar food of equivalent quality. Continue reading
Restaurant names follow all sorts of trends, and one of the current ones is the use of a conjunction to link two concepts — sometimes with the full word “and,” often with an ampersand, and increasingly with a plus sign. Places with names fitting this format have opened all over in recent years. Now, a coffeehouse on Roosevelt Row takes the trend a few steps beyond with not one, but two plus signs, not to mention irregular capitalization. The shop is called “be Coffee + Food + Stuff,” but for the sake of simplicity, it’s most often referred to as just “be Coffee.” Continue reading
Long before light rail traveled up and down Central Avenue through the high-rise business district now known as Midtown, that stretch of the city’s spine was known for its cruising culture. Of course, cruising meant not only showing off cars and socializing, but also stopping for sustenance. The foods historically associated with cruising have been burgers, fries, and shakes. While cruising now occurs only as part of occasional special events, some semblance of the old cruising culture endures at Lenny’s Burger, a retro-themed hamburger restaurant in the heart of Midtown. Continue reading
Over the past quarter century, independent bookstores have nearly vanished and then begun a gradual recovery. Phoenix used to have plenty of them: Houle, Dushoff, and Shakespeare Beethoven & Company are all names that live only in local readers’ memories. Those stores are long gone, but Tempe-based Changing Hands has not only survived competition from online stores and chains, but also opened a second location in Uptown Phoenix. The Phoenix store is smaller than the one in southern Tempe, but it has a distinguishing feature: First Draft Book Bar. Continue reading
80 years ago, long before Seinfeld, Saturday Night Live, or even the Smothers Brothers, Abbott and Costello popularized the legendary “Who’s on First” comedy routine in their live performances and radio show. The dialogue concerned first base in a ball game, but if one were to ask who’s first on First Street in Downtown Phoenix, the answer would be the office building with one North First Street as its address. This recently renovated structure is home to military recruiters, symphony offices, venture capitalists, and, at ground level, Cartel Coffee Lab.