Best Of :: People & Places
Warning: What you are about to read might be very upsetting. If you are faint of heart or have an unnatural obsession with meaningless, ugly Phoenix buildings, please move on to the next category.
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?
With its lavishly tony décor soaked in red and black, talented DJs spinning Top 40 and rock mash-ups, top-shelf food and drinkage, performances by musical and burlesque acts, and plenty of chi-chi clientele, the Jackrabbit Supper Club is definitely the kinda E-Ticket club that exudes big-city splash. Since debuting last fall, it's not strange to see the place filled to its rafters with the beautiful people (including such celebs as Matt Leinart and Jamie Foxx) from Thursday to Saturday every week. Oh, and by the way, good luck trying to get inside. We've seen limos full of ladies and gents getting turned away by the iron-jawed security types after the club hits its capacity during the prime time of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. And even when these gatekeepers grant admission, usually they're picking the hottest hotties that are standing in line outside the unmarked building. So unless you can somehow transform into Nick Lachey or Jessica Simpson, chances are you're gonna be partying down the street at Mickey's with all the other mooks.
Something's going up on the northeast corner of Scottsdale and Camelback roads, and no, it's not another gas station. It's a cupcake shop! Well, you say, cupcake shops are as common as gas stations these days and, hey, both are outrageously priced. You're right. We won't argue (in fact, a Sprinkles cupcake costs $3.25 even more than a gallon of gas). We'll just tell you that if the hype on these precious Beverly Hills-based sweet cakes is anywhere near right, you'll be lined up out the door like an imitation of the '70s gas crisis when the Scottsdale Sprinkles finally opens. We'd hoped it would be in time for our Sweet Life issue, but alas, some good things must wait.
Just listen to the lineup of flavors: ginger lemon, dark chocolate, cinnamon sugar, chai latte, peanut butter chip. Drooling? Try scrolling over the full descriptions at www.sprinklescupcakes.com. Lemon isn't just lemon, it's "fragrant lemon cake with lemon-vanilla frosting flecked with zest." These people mean business, and we expect their business to boom when they open allegedly sometime this fall.
If it weren't for sheer willpower, we'd all be sitting around on asses the size of Texas, eating bonbons, and frothing at the mouth like Homer Simpson. Mmm... chocolate. So you can imagine we were floored to discover a cocoa treat that has zero calories and zero fat at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak. Offered as part of the Tocasierra Spa's "My Tempest Truffle" Valentine's Day package, the Chocolate Scrub immerses your whole body in guilt-free chocolaty goodness. The included Chocolate Decadence Pedicure turns tired tootsies into plump, juicy Tootsie Rolls. Can't wait to check out next year's cocoa-infused V-Day specials at Tocasierra? Don't fret the spa plans to offer the chocolate body scrub year-round for an anytime indulgence. They say that because of similar endorphins, chocolate is just as good as sex. Considering that the spa does the messy cleanup for you, we say this sinful scrub is even better.
Thanks to one of Old Town Scottsdale's newest boutiques, we'll gladly add some extra penance so we can atone for the lust we feel for Covet's Tretorn shoes, limited-edition Andy Warhol Factory Foundation Levi's, and one-of-a-kind Liz Saintsing painted bags. We're envious of owners Randy and Adrienne Kreb's excellent taste, and have been known to stare longingly at the Yoko Deveraux shirts and the Alexander McQueen Puma trainers. We're just angry that we didn't spend more time at the gym, so our slothful selves have to be squeezed into our April 77 skinny rock-star jeans.
We love looking like a million bucks, especially if our champagne tastes can be sated on our beer budgets. That's why we've been braving traffic on the I-10 for ages so we can scour the racks at Neiman Marcus Last Call at Arizona Mills. Where else will you find purple Miu Miu pumps for $19.95? Or John Galliano for Dior camis for $50? Or a men's Prada blazer for less than $150? Stock up on Radko Christmas ornaments for $9, and score a suede couch for under $1500. When you pay for your purchases and the kind clerk asks if you'd like to be added to the mailing list, say, "Yes." You'll get invitations to preview sales and you'll have first crack at some choice Chanel ballet flats. Now you'll be able to afford a matching bag. Who says you can't buy happiness? And at a bargain!
Okay, so a $170,000 golf club membership isn't usually considered a bargain, per se. But this isn't just any golf club and not just any deal. You can save $30,000, old chap, if you join now.
Not only will you save enough cash to buy your third wife's kid another car, but you'll also be able to snub the lowlife riffraff at Ancala, Firerock, and various other golf clubs, where memberships barely break the $100,000 mark.
Badges to Estancia's Tom Fazio-designed course used to cost an initial fee of $200,000 with annual dues of $7,800, but it's your lucky summer. Estancia has been closed for construction, so they're running a promotion. If you buy your membership before the course reopens on November 1, you can save $30,000 and score your membership for a measly $170,000 plus annual dues of $11,600.
That's right, after you fork over $170,000, you'll have to pay only about $1,000 per month to maintain your humble profile at Golf Digest's "Best New Private Course of 1996." Just think what you could do with the $30,000 you'll save. Maybe buy a new set of clubs.
When a $100,000 car doesn't say enough about you, get a vanity license plate de rigueur for the truly gauche, particularly if you live in some of our sweeter parts of town. We're partial to the oversharers. We chuckled at the blue Jag that advertises ISUE4U (we betcha do, buddy), but our favorite could easily belong to ISUE4U's client, if the Jag owner specializes in divorce law. Picture PREENUP on the tail of a yellow Porsche 911 Turbo, hinting the $120,000 ride was purchased with money the ex didn't get. That guy (or gal) was laughing all the way on the ride to the bank. So were we.
We hesitate to give this store an award because it's popular enough, located just off Mill Avenue. Also, the chain does a fine job of promoting itself. But there's a reason we've been shopping here ever since it was called "Happy Trails" (which was before the Roy Rogers people threatened to sue the company).
It's the people. Whoever makes the hires seems to have a standard template for workers they must be young, attractive, ultra-hip, knowledgeable about the products. Most of all, they must be friendly. Whenever we walk in, at least one member of the sales staff will always say hello with a broad smile, no matter how many customers are in the store. They take the time to explain how the, uh, tobacco smoke might taste in a metal or glass receptacle, and they laugh at our stupid jokes and half-assed attempts to be cool.Trails has outlasted many a business on Mill Avenue, and it's not just because the war on drugs has failed. As with many successful retail shops, the secret at Trails is plain old good customer service.
And, more recently, amazing merchandise. Not long ago, the store was remodeled, adding even more shelves for its plethora of bongs that range in quality from $15 plastic jobs to $500 masterpieces of blown glass an odd recent trend in paraphernalia. The pricier bongs would make glass artist Dale Chihuly jealous, and they'll look good on your coffee table. Just be careful when get you up from the couch to get another slice of pizza. A broken bong of that caliber really would bum your high.
We've been assembling a killer "wish list" in anticipation of the day the Powerball numbers finally roll our way. Besides jetting off to Ibiza and purchasing the Copenhaver Castle on Camelback Mountain, we're gonna roll down to the yearly Barrett-Jackson Automotive Auction with a couple of briefcases bulging with hundies to snatch up a couple of the astronomically priced autos up for bid. The annual five-day event, held every January at WestWorld in Scottsdale, is described as "the world's greatest classic car auction," and that ain't no hyperbole. More than a thousand different coupes, muscle cars, roadsters, racers, European models, and other dream machines dating back to the 1930s are available if you just happen to have a six-figure bank account, as final gavel prices frequently go into the hundreds of thousands. For instance, this past January, a '64 Austin-Healey 3000 Mark III convertible went for a cool $100,000, while a Plymouth Barracuda two-door hardtop set some big spender back $500,000. Nice work, if you can get it.
If you aren't making it, try faking it. For instance, say you're some slick $30K millionaire (you know, the type who fronts an upscale lifestyle but makes about as much as the pizza delivery guy), who flaunts your faux fortune at Scottsdale clubs in the hopes of bagging a top-shelf honey. Since there's absolutely zero chance of you hooking 'em in with your broke-ass Honda, consider borrowing a far more regal ride courtesy of the auto dealers at Rent-A-Vette. Cruising down Craftsman Court will be a cooler experience if you're rocking the Porsche Boxster, Mercedes SL 500 roadster, or a Corvette C6 convertible, yo. If you're feeling the need to make a big statement, the joint also leases out luxury SUVs like the Hummer H2. Daily rental rates run as high as $500, so unless you got some scrilla to spare (and we know you don't), better make sure you drop off last night's tryst before you drop off your sled.
From all reports, there's only one answer to the question that goes, "Who do I talk to about finding the perfect home?" and that answer is Jarson & Jarson, a husband-and-wife duo whose high professional standards and superb support staff have made them the go-to couple for folks looking for the best nest. Scott and Debbie understand modern architecture and the importance of site planning like no other agents in town, and their knowledge of what's going on with local builders is uncanny and a little scary; they seem to know what's being built before the builders do. Looking for a spectacular glass palace, a midcentury Ralph Haver, or a cool old bungalow? The Jarsons are your touchstone for what's available and who's offering it for how much, no matter how specific your needs. Seriously, call them up and ask for a house shaped like a bowl of your favorite breakfast cereal, one that's country club-adjacent with a carriage house and a lima bean-shaped pool, and see if they don't respond with a couple of listings and an offer to meet for coffee to discuss your other options. Sweet!