Chef Aaron Chamberlin, owner of Phoenix eateries St. Frances and Phoenix Public Market Cafe, recently announced he’ll be opening a Tempe Public Market Café on the corner of Rural and Warner roads. We caught up with Chamberlin to chat about the restaurant, which is slated to open sometime in summer 2017.
Why expand into Tempe?
I actually grew up in very south Mesa, not far from that area. To be honest with you, what happened was, we found the building, and I was looking for a building that my partners and I could buy and that we could put a rush on in there. So we were looking throughout the Valley, and I knew that area … a lot of people told me they live in that area, and it’s kind of an under-served market. So after we got the building and went and looked around, we realized that there weren’t as many independent restaurants as we have in Phoenix, so I thought it was a good idea to go over there and open a Tempe Public Market and give the people over there a unique dining experience and an independent restaurant like we have in Phoenix.
How similar will this be to Phoenix Public Market Café?
The menu, branding, everything is almost identical. What’s not going to be similar is, we don’t have an old red brick building with a huge trussed ceiling like we do in Phoenix, and we’re also not going to have the farmers market on Saturday … and then we’re also going to not do rotisseries. Over there, we’re actually going to do pizzas. We’re going to do a pizza program.
What kind of pizzas? Wood-fired pizzas? You don’t have pizza at Phoenix Public Market Café, do you?
We don’t. And I originally wanted to, but the problem was, there was already so much pizza in that area. And that gets back to me driving around the neighborhoods, and kind of seeing what they’re looking for, and I think there’s more opportunity to do a pizza program [in Tempe]. It will not be wood-fired. It’s gonna be a deck oven pizza that we’re working on with our bakers. But they’re gonna be really delicious.
Tell me about the building.
This building is actually 1,000 square feet smaller than Phoenix Public Market Café. The building’s an old Circle K. We actually bought it from Circle K corporation. We hired Christoph Kaiser, who’s our downtown Phoenix designer and architect, and he’s designing the whole thing. Inside will be more modern and clean. There will be a similar feel to Phoenix Public Market – we’re going to have a similar bar that opens up, and a big, beautiful patio with a fireplace. It’s going to be great. We’re still going to have the bakery, the pastry case, all the baked goods. We’re going to do similar service, where you go up to a window and order.
What will your bar program be like?
The bar program is going to be very similar to what we do at Phoenix Public Market. We’re going to have roughly five to eight craft cocktails. We have an internal team that’s doing it, but I don’t know if there’s going to be a search over there for a huge amount of craft cocktails, to where we’d need a big mixology thing. We’re just going to do a straightforward [concept] – America’s favorite food, America’s favorite cocktails, things people want to drink and eat on a regular basis.
Where will you be sourcing your ingredients for the Tempe restaurant?
The same places we use for Phoenix Public Market – we work with Bob McClendon, he’s one of our largest vendors. Maya’s Farm. We’ll work more with Steadfast Farm [in Queen Creek], and we’re working on trying to get a relationship with Hayden Flour Mills, where we can sell all their products in our retail section, but also use some of that, potentially, in our pizzas.