His big break came in the late '90s, when he met Phoenix entrepreneur Randy Smith, who'd opened That's A Wrap, on Seventh Street, north of McDowell, in 1998. Smith brought on Brasch to revamp the menu, to much success.

The following year, Smith started a restaurant and bar management company called Bottomline Hospitality Group, and recruited Brasch to be the chef at two new nightspots he was planning to open in Old Town Scottsdale: Mickey's Hangover, in October 2000, and SIX Lounge & Restaurant, in April 2001.

"It was hard, but I was able to learn quickly because my friend's ass was on the line," Brasch says.

Rabbit food it's not: French fries, fried pita with hummus, and other vegan splurges.
Jamie Peachey
Rabbit food it's not: French fries, fried pita with hummus, and other vegan splurges.
Kathy and Damon Brasch are raising their children vegetarian.
Jamie Peachey
Kathy and Damon Brasch are raising their children vegetarian.

Location Info

Map

Green

2240 N. Scottsdale Road, Ste. 8
Tempe, AZ 85281

Category: Restaurant > Health

Region: Tempe

Green

2240 N. Scottsdale Road, Ste. 8
Tempe, AZ 85281

Category: Restaurant > Health

Region: Tempe

Details

Green, 2240 North Scottsdale Road, Suite 8, Tempe, 480-941-9003 »web link
That's A Wrap, 2022 North Seventh Street, Phoenix, 602-252-5051 »web link
The Center Bistro, 21 East Sixth Street, Suite 114, Tempe, 480-491-5591 »web link

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Shortly after that, Smith entered both restaurants in the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, promoting Brasch as an up-and-coming new chef. People were wondering who Brasch was, but he must've made a good impression — SIX won the festival's People's Choice Award for Best New Restaurant.

"Damon's as talented as they come," says Smith. "We were blessed to have him."

Things went well until 9/11. Like many restaurants and bars, Mickey's Hangover saw a drop in business after that. Smith was looking to shore things up by unloading That's A Wrap, and coincidentally, Brasch was eager for a different work environment — he was an "unhealthy smoker" at the time, and working at a bar didn't help. He took over as the new owner of That's A Wrap in 2003, and he quit smoking, too.


Ironically, Brasch has the Atkins diet to thank for his initial success as a restaurateur.

The timing of the purchase of a wrap/salad shop was uncanny.

"I was gonna re-concept it, do something more edgy with it," Brasch says. "But as soon as I bought That's A Wrap, the low-carb thing hit. It was just a stroke of luck."

Business started picking up as the Atkins diet fad swept the country, and customers sought out wraps and salads. Brasch figured, if it's not broken, don't fix it.

Most items contain meat, like the Prince of Thai's wrap (spicy peanut chicken with spinach) or the BBQ chicken bowl, although there are vegetarian options like the Mexican-style Señorita-No-Meata. Tofu can be substituted for meat in any of the wraps. Even now, with Atkins a fading memory, That's A Wrap is packed at lunchtime.

Brasch finally opened Green in 2006. In just two years, the innovative eatery has carved its own niche in the local dining scene. And you're just as likely to hear about it on Chowhound as on a vegetarian message board, thanks to Brasch's accessible menu.

"We were very, very pleasantly surprised," wrote one Chowhounder, a self-proclaimed carnivore. "We did Mandala Tearoom [a vegan restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale] about a month ago and for vegan food, the flavors for Green far surpassed Mandala."

But Brasch doesn't want to take too much credit.

"I think some of it has to do with luck," he says. "I just let life happen."


Just talking with Brasch, it's clear that he's more than just an idea guy. He actually gets things done.

How he manages to pull it all off, I'll never understand.

"Right now, I'm tired," he confesses.

It's a mellow weekday afternoon at Green, with just a few tables of customers eating a late lunch. Brasch sits down to chat over a plate of buffalo wings, clad in baggy pants and a mermaid T-shirt that says "We are animal" (designed for Green by local artist Dave Quan, a.k.a. Luster Kaboom, as a fundraiser for Farm Sanctuary, a national farm animal protection program).

He says he's been spending a lot of time in the office lately, working on a lot of different things. I could've guessed as much from his full beard, which might get in the way in the kitchen.

Along with running his businesses and staying involved with The Center Bistro, a new organic restaurant owned by Robert Black and Austin Vickers, Brasch does restaurant consulting as well as high-end catering.

And he's married, with two little kids. And he's in two bands, Vine Land and Misr Wat. And he writes for a local zine called Hoozdo. In recent issues, he reviewed legendary Phoenix steak house Durant's — from a vegan perspective — and wrote about his "chef crush" on acclaimed pizza guru Chris Bianco.

And did I mention he's been thinking about writing a cookbook, too?

Brasch has even more projects in the works, although he'll share that stuff off the record only. Still, I think it's fair to say he's remarkably plugged in to what's current — he's already proved that.

The Center Bistro is only the latest example. Have you found yourself hearing, saying, thinking about the word "organic" more often than you used to? Have you eaten anything organic lately?

Brasch already has you figured out. His dishes at The Center Bistro are 95 percent organic. And although they aren't vegan, you can order vegan versions of them.

"I just saw that as the next step," he says. "It starts out with people being a little bit open-minded."

The Center Bistro is noticeably more upscale than Green or That's A Wrap, with sleek, contemporary décor as well as a higher price point (no doubt due to the higher cost of organic ingredients). Instead of simple, cheap eats, expect something more sophisticated: a $12 free-range organic roast beef sandwich with organic beets, or perhaps a $6 organic soy-coconut smoothie boosted with a $3 shot of pure açai juice.

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16 comments
Work From Home
Work From Home

Great job done,very nice article.Brasch took his desire to cook good food, promote his own philosophies, and run a successful business.

used cell phones
used cell phones

Very nice restaurant for youngsters and children.....having more variety than any other restaurants...There are very few restaurants like this....

Katherine
Katherine

Thanks for showcasing my favorite restaurant! Sadly, I live far away from Green, but I make sure to stop by whenever I come back to my hometown. Their ice cream is especially amazing.

helentroy4
helentroy4

Damn.... I thought this was your april fools story. Excuse me while I go to my freezer and choose a porterhouse for the grill....

Stephanie
Stephanie

Great article - made me hungry and want to get myself to Phoenix! One thing of note however, a vegan restaurant will not add to your cholesterol load. Only animal foods contain cholesterol. So while it may not be fat free - it won't add to the workload of your Lipitor! : )

bill
bill

How come no mention was made of Veggie Fun, the humble vegetarian restaurant whose former location Green now inhabits? It seems like some credit is due to the nice Asian man who ran that place almost by himself in the absence of any trendiness or "buzz". He not only established the location as a place where people can go to get vegetarian food (albeit with significantly less appealing decor), but he also served versions of the Asian dishes that Green now serves (as well as soft-serve soy ice cream). Give him his due!

Tracy
Tracy

I was so excited to find this restaraunt while vacationing in AZ. We thoroughly enjoyed it and ordered a ton of food! It isn't easy being vegan on the road, so were really grateful to find such a great place. I hope to see one in MA soon!CrazyVeganMom.blogspot.com

Miss Fitzpatrick
Miss Fitzpatrick

Special thanks to the lovely Michele Laudig for profiling someone truly representative of the new vegetarian movement in the US. Although, we are not perfect, and there exists some level of hypocrisy in any way of life, the new vegetarian makes a sincere effort to positively change the environment around them starting with the internal. This lifestyle is often accompanied by misunderstanding, jeers and digs from peers, and savory temptations that make it easy to forget what one eats. Damon Brache and Austin Vickers are two exemplary Phoenicians who are not only changing the standard for what we put in our bodies and how we justify those choices in our minds, they are capitalizing on it. Long live �Damon Magic.� And, may it spread to other cities in America soon.

Sedona Cornville
Sedona Cornville

Eating a salad is vegicide. Save the carrots! Save the radishes!

Drake Northpine
Drake Northpine

While it certainly won't make me stop eating meat, the food is actually pretty decent.

Knish
Knish

What a fabulous place! How about opening one in Atlanta. My friends and I would be there constantly. Probably not good for the waistline, but great for the animals. Keep us posted with your openings around the country. And, for all you animal lovers out there, join the revolution.www.savetheknish.org

Matt Ball
Matt Ball

Thanks so very much for this informative article. Many people are horrified when they learn the hidden realities of modern agribusiness, but assume that being vegan means a life of deprivation. But places like Green, as well as new vegetarian meats (like Boca Burgers, Tofurky Deli Slices, Gimme Lean Ground "Beef" and "Sausage") show that this isn't the case. Each one of us can boycott factory farms and choose compassion -- and enjoy great food!

Christy L
Christy L

Thanks for highlighting one of my favorite restaurants! Green is a gem. It's refreshing to be able to eat everything on the menu AND not have it taste like cardboard. I've even brought staunch meat eaters to the restaurant and they loved it. My only gripe is that Green doesn't use environmentally sound products. Disposable forks, paper napkins, and Styrofoam cups really defeats the purpose of going veg for many people. Why contribute to the waste when there's such an opportunity to make a difference?

 
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