Two weeks ago, Cullen Campbell -- owner and chef of Crudo, the quirky Scottsdale eatery that is home to inventive raw seafood dishes and handmade pasta -- received some heart-stopping news. The folks at the Steven Paul Salon, where Crudo makes its home on the patio and in-house cafe, said Cullen's lease was coming up for renewal, and they didn't want him back, he says.
"There were a few nights I didn't get any sleep," Campbell recalls, "But it's okay, I've been thinking about moving to a new location for about a year now anyway."
Campbell tells me that having a restaurant inside a salon created some issues in attracting guests. Some people feared that they would have to eat next to someone getting a shampoo or that the place would smell like chemicals. The salon owners also didn't like Campbell being open later than they were, according to Campbell.
"They want to get someone in there who will work the same hours they do," Campbell says, adding that he's heard of a couple of possible replacements.
So where will Crudo's new home be? According to Campbell, not in Scottsdale.
"I really looked in Scottsdale," Campbell says, "But I couldn't find anything. I have a couple of good offers in Arcadia, but nothing's been finalized."
Campbell told me he hopes to have a new home for Crudo in the next few weeks. In the meantime, he's planning on keeping the Crudo name out and about. So far, his plans include a pop-up at Posh (details to come) and a two-day stint July 19 and 20 at Cycle, where he'll create crazy diner-food versions of Crudo fare.
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"I started working on the concept last night," Campbell laughs. "I'm doing my take on Moons Over My Hammy and wondering how I can work raw fish into it."
Campbell says the chef community in Phoenix has been incredibly supportive during this time of change. And for a man who needs to find and set up a new restaurant in the next few weeks, he seems relatively calm.
"I'm going nuts on the inside," Campbell tells me. "Don't you worry about that."