Trays of Our Lives, Part Deux: Seven Maricopa County employees have passed along their disagreement with my negative assessment of Sutton's, a downtown cafeteria located at 101 West Jefferson, in the Superior Court building. They write: We are wondering who you think YOU are, and for what purpose do you think this cafeteria exists? We are here to tell you it is NOT there to satisfy the snobby likes of you, who apparently have been to too many "big business" eateries for the well-to-do. Sutton's Cafeteria is a reliable and efficient business [that] accommodates employees and the public, neither of which is endowed with the financial means to "eat big" on a daily basis, and Sutton's does so very well! . . . We are grateful to Sutton's for accommodating us within our means. . . . They have never claimed to be a gourmet restaurant. . . . It is NOT a "high society" businessman's restaurant! . . . According to your description of Sutton's I hesitate to believe you actually viewed their cafeteria or ate their food. Most of us here share in appreciating Sutton's efforts on our behalf! I'm sure Sutton's appreciates these customers' sense of loyalty, which is obviously more highly developed than their sense of taste. To keep the record straight, the review didn't compare Sutton's merits as a lunch option to Christopher's Bistro or Eddie's Grill. Along with Sutton's, I checked out two other downtown cafeterias, Palm Grove Food Court (Dial Corporate Center, 1850 North Central) and Plaza View (APS Building, 400 North Fifth Street). I was looking for places where workers could get reliable midday eats and change back from a five. Both Palm Grove and Plaza View were wonderful finds, delivering restaurant-quality meals at bargain cafeteria prices. Sutton's didn't come close. My correspondents, I think, are mistaken: If you work downtown, spending your lunch money at Palm Grove and Plaza View instead of at Sutton's isn't snobbery; it's good sense.
Double Vision: In the restaurant business, getting your place to stand out is what it's all about. That's why restaurants that combine a concept with their food are so popular. Here in the Valley, we can eat Western grub, then step outside to watch cowboy shoot-outs (Rawhide); down burgers and sandwiches surrounded by mountains of movie memorabilia (Planet Hollywood); or drink malts and banter with wisecracking servers (Ed Debevic's).
But we can't yet match the high-concept level of some New York entrepreneurs. They've just opened a Manhattan restaurant in which all employees--bartenders, servers, hostesses--are pairs of identical twins. And each pair works together on the same shift. The name of the restaurant, naturally, is Twins. A detail yet to be worked out: If one twin is ill, does the other have to stay home, too?
The Bucks Stop Here: What are the highest annual-revenue restaurants in the Valley? According to Restaurant Connection, a local trade publication, they are: 1. Planet Hollywood, $12 million; 2. Rustler's Rooste, $10.2 million; 3. Macaroni Grill, $6.5 million; 4. Monti's La Casa Vieja, $5.7 million; 5. Houston's, $5.5 million.--
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Phoenix dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.