Big Brains

Big Brain Update: Welcome Diner's Michael Babcock and Jenn Robinson

Leading up to this year's Big Brain Awards, we're checking in with past winners. Up today: Michael Babcock.

With a new spring menu and an expanded cocktail program, Michael Babcock's Southern food diner concept in Central Phoenix, Welcome Diner, is still reinventing itself through Babcock's guidance and creativity. However, that's not all he and his partner Jenn Robinson have planned for the Phoenix food world. We spoke to Babcock about his plans for the future and where he sees Phoenix heading in the next year.

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What have you been up to since winning a Big Brain Award? Jenn and I are continuing to operate Welcome Diner. It's been a great year and we're hoping to expand the idea of the diner into other locations.

What are you working on for the future? We're working on doing some other projects. Right now, we're really interested in the idea of forming a restaurant group -- creating a team based on our value systems, like the food we carry and the level of service we provide to people. We're moving forward.

Where do you see Phoenix a year from now? I see Phoenix continuing to grow and doing its thing. We're in beginning stages of becoming a food mecca with great restaurants and chefs that are getting international attention. I think Phoenix will continue to build off of that momentum.

Where do you see yourself a year from now? I definitely see myself still being in Phoenix and running restaurants -- kicking ass. We hope to have another restaurant open in a year, and we're shooting for sooner than that. Right now, we're looking to secure a location, but I'm not ready to say where just yet.

Nominations for this year's Big Brain Awards are closed. Check back in the coming weeks for profiles of this year's finalists and information about New Times' Artopia, an evening of art, drinks, food, and music, on Saturday, April 26. Tickets are $25.

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