The Parlor Pizzeria: Behind the Design with Aric Mei

Aric Mei was tired of building trash.

As a set designer and builder in Los Angeles, Mei's projects were put together, torn down and thrown away in a matter of days.

His current piece of work, The Parlor Pizzeria is a bit more permanent.

While his personal backgrounds are in art and furniture design (he also made guitars for Luthier), restaurants are in his blood. His father, Dan Mei, was one of three founders of Nello's Pizza, which now has locations in Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe and Ahwatukee.

​The two found Salon de Venus, the landmark beauty salon on Camelback Road that was closing its doors, and jumped on the adaptive reuse bandwagon. Mei insists the trend wasn't all that popular when they started.

"When I attended the design conference after we finished the Parlor, a representative from city told us that they actually changed a few of their adaptive reuse policies because of the hoops we jumped through. It was insanity. Now it's a lot easier."

With no blueprints or original building plans, the Meis were able to convert the longstanding beauty salon into a functioning restaurant in just more than a year. They kept three original walls and collected most of the refuse materials from demolition to create light fixtures, furniture and an outdoor fireplace.

Mei's favorite piece in the restaurant is his hostess stand. "I was made fun of for weeks because I kept pushing around this huge pile of wood from the roof. I had to use it. The last thing we needed was a hostess stand and that stupid pile of wood actually came in handy."

Mei still paints and creates furniture outside of restaurant hours (if those exist) and says he definitely plans on designing/opening another restaurant in the future.

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