Restaurant News

Copper Star Coffee Owner to Open Barbecue Joint in October: "I Don't Want to Do Things That Are Expected."

Arizona native Bill Sandweg, owner and master barista of Copper Star Coffee in Phoenix, has wanted to do a restaurant since 2004.

"Copper Star was originally going to be a restaurant," Sandweg tells me. "But then I got talked out of it and coffee ended up being a good idea anyway."

In October, Sandweg will get another shot to open his own eatery. He's leased the free-standing building in the shopping plaza on the northwest corner of Camelback and 7th Avenue (next to the McDonalds's) to open his own barbecue joint.

"The building's been vacant for ten years," Sandweg says. "The cops are thrilled someone's finally moving in and they're keeping an eye on the place for me."

Sandweg tells me he's calling his restaurant, "Circle H Barbecue," named for his grandfather's initials, O.H., and that the interior, loaded with natural lighting, will feel like old Arizona, featuring memorabilia from the 50s through the 70s.

"I'm hoping it will be like El Chorro," Sandweg tells me. "But it won't be overkill. I don't want it to distract from the food."

Sandweg says his menu will feature several styles of barbecue (he's been doing his own 'que for about ten years), along with starters, sides, and desserts -- all made from scratch and using fresh ingredients.

"There's a lot of things I'd like to put on the menu," Sandweg says, "but there are other people out there already doing them well. I don't want to do things that are expected."

Look for appetizers like deviled eggs and a pesto cream cheese dip. Desserts like bread pudding, an ice cream sandwich with homemade ice cream and cookies, and seasonal pies like pumpkin and apple.

And when it comes to the barbecue, which Sandweg compares to alchemy, the plan is a mix of styles made with his own rubs and sauces. Think sausages, smoked chicken, Texas-style brisket, two kinds of pork sandwiches, baby back ribs, and tenderloin medallions with two kinds of sauces.

Still awaiting his liquor license, Sandweg, a self-proclaimed "beer geek," plans to have only micro brews on draft and a few standard bottles along with an offering of local and central coast wines and a few mixed drinks.

Sandweg says he's planning on opening Circle H Barbecue in mid-October, with or without his liquor license.

"I've hired my team and it's a bad economy -- I want to put these people to work."

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld