Crunch50 is not really a restaurant.
Other than a self-serve waffle bar on Saturday mornings (Continental breakfast-style), virtually no cooking goes on in this North Phoenix shop.
Instead, it's all about the cereal. Cold breakfast cereal.
The setup is simple: start with a “large” or “small” bowl and make your way down a wall of cereal dispensers (approximately 50 choices, hence the shop’s name). Choose a topping or two if you wish, like fresh fruit, Oreo cookie crumbles, or mini marshmallows, and finish with your dairy or alt-milk of choice.
You could replicate the process with Quaker oatmeal or yogurt instead (again, think continental breakfast) or with soft-serve ice cream.
Oh, and for the grownup still inside you, there’s Cartel Coffee and Cold Brew.
The concept may give you flashbacks to your college days when a “prototype” of Cereality served cereal combos with toppings inside Arizona State University’s Memorial Union back in 2003. This particular cereal bar is far removed from the college scene, however, Thunderbird Road and Seventh Street to be exact, with an excellent view of North Mountain less than a mile away. Crunch50 attracts more of a family crowd.
Husband-and-wife team Alex and Heather Ramon opened Crunch50 in early December 2016. Depending what day of the week you visit, you may also see one of many community gatherings in the shop, from bible study groups, to Little League teams, to competitive chess clubs. In a matter of a few months, Crunch50 has become a hub of activity.
“We want people to come, hang out, and stay, not just eat and leave,” Alex Ramon says.
Before Crunch50, Heather was a stay-at-home mom. Alex works for an architectural firm that helps food chains open storefronts. He has worked with brands like Panda Express, Mad Greens, and Kneaders Bakery and Café.
“I’ve opened so many restaurant concepts for other people,” Ramon says. “One morning, I woke up and I pictured this.”
It’s as simple as that.
Maybe you remember a few viral video features of trendy cereal bars that opened some time in 2015, like Cereal Killer Café in London and Kith Cereal Bar in NYC. The latter is a futuristic-looking all-white shop with $10 cereal bowl specials curated by celebs like Action Bronson.
By contrast, there’s nothing pretentious about Crunch50. Functional, yet comfortable seating is arranged around the shop. There’s a Ms. Pac Man arcade machine in one corner, a shelf of board games like Trouble, Candy Land, and Sorry! available to borrow in the other corner, and a flat-screen television playing kids’ shows in between. Just about everything on the menu will set you back less than $5.
“This to me is a success,” Alex Ramon says gesturing to a photo of some happy patrons on the wall. “A dad comes in with his daughter. They come in, they eat, they stay and play Connect 4 and Ms. Pac Man, and they have a fun night together ... I know how it goes as a parent; it’s hard to stay focused on your kids sometimes. This gives [families] a place where they can come and have fun together.”
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The photo mentioned is one in an inexplicable collection decorating the long wall inside Crunch50, curated by Ramon himself. There are phone snaps of customers, stock photos of people eating cereal, and an array of historical photos, like one of Martin Luther King Junior and his family, another of Muhammad Ali mid-KO, and a print of the iconic “Space Chimp Lives” photo.
Why? “Just to get people thinking,” Ramon says.
13240 North Seventh Street, #6
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday