Mag's Ham Bun, one of the Valley's original restaurants and the namesake for a group of Scottsdale movers and shakers, has closed. El Camino Mexican restaurant has taken over the small shop in the Windmill Plaza on the southeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard.
Mag's became well-known in the early 1960s, after the cafe became homeroom for a group of prominent Scottsdale residents who met over monthly breakfasts to informally discuss top city and world issues. The group was founded in 1953 and originally met at the historic Lute's Pharmacy, but as membership grew, the group moved to the larger Mag's, and took the name Mag's Ham Bun Bunch.
Known for its hand-carved sandwiches and killer chili, Mag's was recognized as a favorite of Scottsdale's "shadow" government, a power structure that wasn't too difficult to achieve at a time when the city had just a few thousand residents. The Bunch was featured on 60 Minutes in the '60s, and in 1979, CBS News staged interviews with "rich Scottsdale citizens" at Mag's.
A highlight of Mag's membership is participating in the annual president's election, held on Halloween. Cheating is encouraged, and the prize for the esteemed group leader is a white plastic Mag's coffee cup mounted on a wooden base.
The original Mag's on First Street, east of Scottsdale Road, closed in 1986 and is now Pischke's Paradise, another popular local hangout. The Ham Bun Bunch moved its meetings first to the downtown Tony Roma's, then to the Quilted Bear, at Scottsdale Road and Lincoln Drive, where it still meets. The newer Mag's location never gained the popularity of the original.
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