To certain groups in central Phoenix, this is a big deal. This is the flagship location of Macayo’s, originally Woody’s Macayo, which opened in 1952 (the second rising of Woody and Victoria Johnson’s first establishment in 1946, the six-table Woody’s El Nido restaurant on McDowell Road). This is the place spotted by its Mayan-looking stair steps (a late ’70s addition to the building). This is the restaurant where President Obama and family made a surprise dinner visit in 2009.
The current location will remain open through 2016, though it's estimated that construction will start in October. Macayo’s is recruiting Judith Testani and Riccardo Cattapan’s teams at Testani Design Troupe, Inc. & CMDA Design Bureau for the job – which they’re calling an “adaptive reuse project.”
“The project is underway at our flagship location, and it is truly in honor of Woody and his dream and innovation. The design is inspired by his original concept of our Central Macayo,” says Sharisse Johnson, CEO of Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen, in a press release. “The goal is to create a space similar to the look and feel that Woody built in 1946 with a modern appeal.”
The original location is slated for housing – specifically, an apartment complex. From the press release, “Macayo's had initially considered renovating the current site, but strongly believe the proposal for developers to build housing on their current lot, coupled with their ideas to repurpose the auto-shop, will bring new energy to midtown Phoenix.”
The new location will clock in at 5,000 square feet, as opposed to the current Macayo’s on Central’s 20,000 square feet, but will also come with an outdoor patio section. In addition to the new look, Macayo’s is currently interviewing chefs from Mexico to head up the kitchen at the new spot.
However, it's hoped that a few familiar pieces will make the move. Macayo’s is working with the City of Phoenix to try and preserve the current neon Macayo sign and move it across the street to the new location. Other preservation efforts include the large, carved wooden doors at the entrance, and elements of the Mayan style found throughout the current location.