We love the new Pei Wei/Starbucks compound at Seventh Avenue and McDowell. There. We said it.
Now let us explain. For months, we avoided the corner. We knew the beloved Emerald Lounge (really, more of a light green shack, if a shack can be made of slump block) was gone, with a couple of nasty chains erected in its place, and frankly, we just didn't want to have to look. But then we met up for dinner with a dear friend who lives a stone's throw away, and we had to sit in the parking lot for a few minutes, first, to compose ourselves. It was shock and awe, but not the bad kind. We were thrilled. Finally, a sign of urban civilization, a corner in Phoenix holding something other than a Circle K. (Don't worry, the one across the street is still there.)
We never expected a Pei Wei could look so hip, so, well, San Francisco (okay, you have to squint, but relatively speaking, you've got to admit that we're right). But with all the corrugated steel and urban-y architecture and then the exposed brick, painted cement floors, and airy spaces inside we have to tell you we were darn impressed. We figure somewhere at Pei Wei HQ there's a big notebook filled with prototypical Pei Weis you know, the strip mall Pei Wei, the stand-alone urban Pei Wei. That means there are plans to put Pei Weis on urban corners all over North America.
Maybe we've lost perspective, maybe we're desperate, but we don't care. Give us our brown rice, chicken with broccoli, and a bottomless Diet Coke, and let us hang out a little longer, acting all urban and shit. We just hope Pei Wei plunks one of these suckers on a corner at 12th Street and Jefferson. But not the southeast corner, 'kay?