Scratch Pastries owners Duc and Noelle Liao are looking forward to the New Year, especially in light of what happened in this one.
In June, following problems with investors concerning their second location (Scratch French Cafe, located in the former Canvas space on Roosevelt Row), the husband-and-wife team declared bankruptcy. The decision forced the Liaos to shutter not only their three-month-old Roosevelt Row store, but the original location of Scratch Pastries in Scottsdale, which opened in 2008.
"It's been a treacherous year," Noelle tells me. "The investors were harassing and threatening us. We had to move out of our home -- we even lived on food stamps for a while."
After months of struggles, the Liaos have decided to take the plunge into restaurant ownership again, but this time, Noelle says, with lessons learned.
The couple is returning to their former Scratch Pastries location at 7620 East Indian School Road in Scottsdale to open a new French cafe and patisserie called Merci, a name Noel says is the couple's way of saying thanks to all their supporters.
"The landlord welcomed us back," Noelle says. "And the mean guys [investors] only took the mixer and the display case, so the place is pretty much ready to go."
Describing it as essentially Scratch Pastries under a new name, Noelle says a few of the main differences with the new restaurant will be a more focused menu, an expanded patisserie, and more of a mom-and-pop feel.
"We're going to build out our pastry section and offer things you can't find in the city, as well as offer our best sellers and own creations," Noelle says. "The store will have a vintage look that's homey and cozy. And we'll have an armoire to display our cookies and homemade jams."
Noelle goes on to say that Merci will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Breakfasts will include croissants, lunch dishes will feature about 10 sandwiches, many open-faced on homemade bread, and the Saturday and Sunday brunch menu will be similar to the one previously offered at Scratch Pastries.
"For dinner, Duc is going to add more Asian fusion dishes using things like lemongrass and curries," says Noel. "And we'll have our specialty burgers, on homemade buns and using Angus beef. We'll serve gluten-free and vegetarian items, too."
Merci will not offer alcohol but will be BYOB-friendly. And, Noel says, with any luck, they'll be open before Christmas.
"We're grateful for another opportunity, and we've learned a lot. We kind of let the mom-and-pop-thing go when we opened our second location, but this time Duc and I will be doing almost everything," Noel says. "We'd love to move back into our old home [currently being rented] so our three girls can get their bedrooms back."
Merci French Cafe and Patisserie 7620 East Indian School Road, Scottsdale www.facebook.com/mercifrenchcafe
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