Second Helpings

Jinxed?: I don't know what it is about this particular restaurant space, at 7373 Scottsdale Civic Center Mall. I'm talking about the storefront next to Pepin, and downstairs from Backstage.

Maybe a long-ago Hohokam shaman put a hex on it. Maybe somebody blasphemed on the property. Maybe it's just plain cursed.

Whatever it is, I'd rather walk under a ladder, step on a crack, break a mirror and run across the paths of a dozen black cats than sign a restaurant lease for this location.

That's because the fifth venture in the past eight years has just gone under there. Old-timers will recall that the space once housed Coyote Cafe. Then, it became Laguna Cafe. That ill-fated enterprise was succeeded by the Charcoal House, which is the only time you'll ever see the words "succeeded" and "Charcoal House" in the same sentence. Next up (or, as it were, down) was Tulupa. And that was followed by the most recent unfortunate tenant, an Italian place called The Mafia Factory. Heck, even the mob couldn't wring a profit from this spot.

I can't figure it out. The mall area is an absolute delight from October through May, a wonderful, pedestrian-friendly spot. The Scottsdale Center for the Arts and nearby Old Town Scottsdale attract lots of tourists and locals. There's plenty of free parking. And AZ 88, Pepin and Backstage all seem to be thriving.

Everyone knows you don't spit into the wind or play poker with a guy named "Doc." And restaurant entrepreneurs should know better than to take their chances with a storefront that has "Failure" stamped all over it. Still, an indomitable risk-taker, convinced that he or she has the formula for success, will no doubt come along to tempt fate. I just hope that whoever it is remembers that the scoreboard currently reads Fate 5, Restaurants 0.

Peanut Butter Gallery: Remember the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich mom used to pack for your school lunch? Now, in New York, you can relive the experience.

And it will only cost you about eight bucks.

The New York Times reports that a cagey entrepreneur has recently opened Peanut Butter and Company, a new sandwich shop that has upscaled what had been a very downscale concept. Adults are, well, eating it up.

Fans are drawn by the peanuts ground fresh on the premises, the freshly baked breads and the chic accessory combinations.

Among the sandwiches: peanut butter and cream cheese; peanut butter with bacon, lettuce and tomato; spicy peanut butter with grilled chicken and pineapple jam; white chocolate peanut butter and orange marmalade; and peanut butter with sliced bananas and honey (the Elvis).

The sandwiches go for between five and six bucks, and come with carrot sticks and potato chips. (A drink -- and you can't eat a peanut-butter sandwich without one -- adds a couple of dollars to the tag.) As an added nostalgia note, sandwiches are served on Fiesta ware.

Do patrons have qualms about the cost? Get real. "This is Manhattan," said one. "This is a bargain." -- Howard Seftel

Suggestions? Write me at or New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix, AZ 85002.


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