Windsor and Churn: Behind the Design Scenes with Craig DeMarco, Lauren Bailey, and Daniel Germani

Lauren Bailey and Craig DeMarco are serious about their over-sized sticks of chalk -- they're what marked the walkways, outlined the bar, and mapped out the tables on the empty, concrete floor where Windsor and Churn now stand in downtown Phoenix.

The two are no strangers to restaurant concept and design; they've worked together and currently run the two Postino locations in Phoenix and Arcadia.

When they stumbled upon a defunct flower shop on Central Avenue just north of Camelback Road, they knew they were about to dive in to their third venture.

Two and a half years later, the two, with the help of local architect Daniel Germani, are busy keeping customers happy: Bailey's chatting with a couple sitting in one of Windsor's booths, DeMarco's talking with a few friends on the misty patio, and Germani's entertaining near the 80s cassette tapes that line the hallway (there's a Celine Dion in there -- he swears).

The three agree that more than the literal "idea wall" full of cool bits they found in magazines and photos they took while traveling, the design was based on (and named for) the surrounding neighborhood and the building's original architecture.

"I know a lot of people design and come up with restaurants and then find a space," says DeMarco. "Our process was completely opposite."

Bailey remembers the building in its original form; it was built in the Windsor neighborhood in the 1940s and the exterior was covered in layers and layers of bland paint.

She says she knew it was going to be theirs when she saw what was underneath: red brick.

After rezoning the building for restaurant use, they knocked down a few of the interior walls to create a casual dining room with vintage school chairs, window frame mirrors, and huge red letters, and a cozy pub with a mahogany bar by Germani, and booth seating measured and designed to look like the original booths at Durant's (they're big fans).

DeMarco and Bailey returned the exterior walls to their red-brick base, installed New York-style doors, and converted the outdoor area to a Postino-esque, shaded patio with red bricks from the interior walls.

You can get to Churn through the front entrance, but if you want the full effect, you'll walk through the restaurant and down the hallway of cassette tapes.

Pass the white-tiled bathrooms with steel apothecary cabinets, and take a right when when you see a light pink-and-orange argyle.

If you arrive in the afternoon, when the lighting's just right, you'll land in what Bailey remembers the ice cream shops looking like when she was growing up in Indiana.

Churn's a mix of vintage candy, homemade ice cream in a variety of flavors, and kid-themed odds and ends.

Bailey wrote each label and updates the chalkboard menu. She shows off her latest finds -- gummies that look like peas and carrots and a set of candy hot dogs.

It's a slightly different feel from the connected restaurant, she says, but her goal was to make a feel-good, drop-in stop for the neighborhood ... and a great excuse to grab an ice cream after dinner. 

The three talk for a minute and take turns crediting each other for design details: the old-school directory at the hostess table, the original Vans sneakers hanging from the ceiling beams, and the mahogany-surfaced everything that gives the place a casual warmth.

And then, as quickly as they came together, they split to tend to the kids on the ice cream bar's step stool, to check on the kitchen, and to find that damn Dion tape.

See a full slideshow of Windsor and Churn here, and for more info check out the Windsor and Churn websites, or get a first taste of the menu on Chow Bella.  

Windsor and Churn are at 5223 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix.

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