Restaurant News

Instrumental Hospitality Reveals First Project — a New Restaurant in the Melrose District

Belly is set to open in spring 2020.
Belly is set to open in spring 2020. AWE Collective
Instrumental Hospitality Group is a new bar and restaurant team formed by Michael Babcock and Wayne Coats, formerly of Welcome Hospitality, along with Paul Waxman and Robert Cissell. The group wanted to give their new company a name first, because they plan on creating a couple of projects under that umbrella.

And as we reported back in June, the details of that first project would be revealed in August — name, location, menu, everything. Well, today is the day.

Instrumental Hospitality Group has announced Belly, a two-story Southeast Asian kitchen and cocktail bar at Seventh Avenue and Camelback Road in an 80-year-old auto garage. The spot at 4971 North Seventh Avenue will have a fast-casual eatery downstairs for lunch, dinner, catering, and delivery. Upstairs will house a full-service bar and patio for up to 50 people. Belly is scheduled to open in spring 2020.

However, the real premiere for Belly will come in the form of a pop-up on September 13 during Phoenix Unknown: World Food and Music Night Market at The Van Buren.

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The new Instrumental Hospitality Group.
Matt Martian
Instrumental Hospitality assignments are as follows: Babcock as culinary director, Coats as director of hospitality, Cissell as director of operations, and Waxman as beverage director.

“We are honored to join the already-amazing Melrose District and its tight-knit culture and community,” Babcock says in a press release. “We’re looking forward to seeing what’s on the horizon for this up-and-coming stretch of Camelback!”

In May, Babcock and Coats left Welcome Hospitality, which operates Welcome Diner, Welcome Chicken + Donuts, and Welcome Commissary (all are still in the hands of founder Sloane McFarland). And before this, Cissell was found at Gallo Blanco and Angry Crab Shack. Waxman is formerly of Cobra Arcade Bar.

The name is derived from all members of the group being musicians and participating in local bands. Coats was in Coats & Via, as well as The Morning Kennedy Was Shot. Waxman and Cissell were in Dear and the Headlights. And Instrumental has partnered with local developer Chuckie Duff (he’ll be more on the production and financial side), who was also in Dear and the Headlights.

For more information, visit the Instrumental Hospitality Group website. To just keep up with the guys, stay tuned to Instrumental Hospitality Group via Instagram.

Editor's note: This article has been updated from its original version.
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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.