The stigma around vegan food is that it doesn't taste good. The hard truth about downtown's Bragg's Pie Factory building is, after the 1960s, it never had any pie. Liam Murtagh, chef at Jobot Coffee Shop, downtown's late-night coffee and crepe house, hopes to change both.
Murtagh's teamed up with his wife, Emily Spetrino-Murtagh, and fellow Jobot staff member and line cook Dana Stern to start Bragg's Factory Diner. Set to open in late February/early March, the restaurant will serve American diner food, vegetarian- and vegan-style, in the retail space of Bragg's Pie Factory, the former pie factory turned art galley at 1301 Grand Avenue. And, yes, there will be pie.
Murtagh, who created the menu, tells me the 1,000-square-foot diner, formerly My Goodness Cakes, will offer familiar breakfast and lunch food that non-vegans won't shy away from. The pies, like an apple with a rosemary crust, come courtesy of Stern. And Murtagh's wife will run front-of-the-house operations.
Breakfast fare will include dishes like flaxseed pancakes, French toast with orange slices, coconut curry waffles, and scramble options (with tofu or eggs). Lunch offers items such as a fried avocado sandwich, a Southwestern-style beet burger, and Murtagh's version of the classic Reuben made with portobello mushrooms instead of pastrami.
"I'm avoiding fake meats," Murtagh tells me. "Getting into things like that, they end up being just as processed as something like a Kraft Single."
And with a nod toward the healthy, Murtagh says beverages will include coffee, teas, and fruit drinks, but absolutely no sodas.
Because the Bragg's Pie Factory building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Murtagh tells me he and his partners intend to make the interior a "shrine to Phoenix," decorating the walls with old photos depicting the city's history as well as their own. (Liam Murtagh and Stern came to Phoenix when they were very young, and Emily Spetrino-Murtagh is a native.)
"Wallace and Ladmo will be in the mix," Murtagh assures me.