Chef News

Brian Archibald of The Graduate Tempe on Opening Restaurants and What He Missed About Phoenix

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See also: Tapacubo at The Graduate Hotel Brings $3 Tacos and Pressed Tortas to Tempe

For Archibald, opening the hotel is also a sort of homecoming. The native Phoenician returned to the Valley about four months ago after spending a year living and working (and opening a different hotel) in Kansas City, Mo.

As the hotel's executive chef, Archibald oversees two dining outlets and a soon-to-open rooftop bar. In keeping with the company's community-focused theme, all three concepts play of ASU and Tempe history.

"There's just all these little things where it's not over the top Arizona State University or anything like that, it's more of the history," he says. "No flags or anything - there's plenty of that on Mill and that's not who we wanna be. But we want to have a distinct correlation to the school."

The Normal Diner, located on the east side of the hotel, was the first dining outlet to open earlier this year. In keeping with the building's past - until the Graduate took over it housed a 24-hour IHOP - the restaurant offers cuisine Archibald says is a mixture of East and West Coast diner fare.

The second restaurant, Tapacubo, opened recently too. With a name that means "hubcap," Tapacubo specializes in street food, as opposed to Mexican cuisine, according to the chef. For now, the menu is a concise selection of mostly Mexican-inspired eats, though Archibald says he'll be moving toward a more worldly menu as time goes on.

And since Tapacubo will also be serving poolside diners and the patrons of the third story bar, Archibald has come up with a unique way to do more volume: Tapacubo will host a schedule of guest food trucks through a specially-designed food truck window that opens directly into the dining room. Working with the Phoenix Street Food Coalition Archibald is working to host food trucks during peak hours several times a week.

Not only will this give Tapacubo diners more menu options, Archibald says, it will also help the restaurant accommodate even more guests.

As for the yet-to-be-named fourth floor bar, Archibald says the space will be a gathering place for hotel guests and neighborhood residents. There will be televisions to watch the game (if you're not going to Sun Devil Stadium) and great views of the campus and Tempe.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria