Built by Del Webb in the late 1930s, the former warehouse became a staple of the downtown arts scene after commercial photographer Wayne Rainey bought it during the late ‘90s and turned it into a mixed-use creative space. Rainey sold the property to True North Studio for $3.5 million, ushering in a series of changes at the site. Most recently, monOrchid was home to Be Coffee and The Dressing Room restaurant. Both closed in March 2020.
Now, renovations are nearing completion for Kähvi Coffee, which Wright is aiming to open July 1. Kähvi (the word's Finnish for coffee) will expand the former footprint of Be Coffee to include about 1,200 to 1,500 square feet of space, complete with two bar tops. It’ll likely open at 7 a.m., but Wright is still working out closing times, which could be around 6 or 7 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. or so on the weekends. Expect small tabletops for two patrons and bigger tables for eight patrons, plus couches and a lot of indoor plants.
“We want it to be really conducive to working or having meetings, but still have a fun bohemian vibe,” Wright says.
“We’re excited to bring another full-service dining space to the area, and we think the second-story patio will be great for private events,” Wright says.
The third concept is Sake Haus, which will occupy about 1,800 square feet in the southeast section of monOrchid, including part of the former Dressing Room. The design calls for wrapping a section of the building with dark wood to be "on brand” with Wright's Tokyo street vibe for the restaurant, where the main menu item will be sushi. “We’ve hired a sushi chef but we can’t say who it is just yet,” Wright says.
The wood will cover an iconic mural created by JB Snyder, who says he’s had that wall for a decade and hadn’t been told about the change. Another artist, Sierra Joy, had her work painted over near that same space in recent years. Renovations will also cover mural art by Kyllan Maney on the east side of the building, but Wright expects to keep a nearby mural by Sky Black, which pictures a wolf surveying an apparent junkyard filled with cars and construction vehicles.
Wright says he’s planning to incorporate local artwork in his monOrchid projects. “We’ll have mural art in Sake Haus and Pedal Haus, but we haven’t identified the artists yet,” he says. “We know a bunch of artists, but we haven’t decided if we’re going to be doing a call for art or just selecting artists.”
There will continue to be gallery space between a garage door on the northeast corner and the opposite wall, which could also be used for events from yoga to corporate functions. “We’re also planning to work with Artlink to program the art in the gallery space," he says. "We’re all about supporting the local art community and vibe of the neighborhood."
Wright figures Sake Haus will open at 4 p.m., closing at around 10 or 11 p.m. during the week but midnight or 1 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. He's hoping to open both Pedal Haus and Sake Haus in late August, just in time for Labor Day.
Wright heads up Fork and Dagger, which has launched several food and beverage concepts, primarily in Tempe, over the last decade. But he's been making his way into RoRo for a while now. Late last year, Wright opened Lucky’s Indoor Outdoor just north of the FilmBar spot at 817 North Second Street. At one point, he was planning to take over four existing concepts at True North properties in the Roosevelt Row area, including Josephine and Coup De Grace, as well as Poppy and From the Rooftop at the Cambria Hotel. But, he says, “When COVID started heating up last year we decided it didn’t make sense to take on so many projects with the uncertainty of our industry."
He also recently moved Fork and Dagger's offices to monOrchid, signaling his interest in having a bigger Roosevelt Row presence. He says he signed a 10-year lease at monOrchid, with two five-year renewal options if he wants to stay on.
If the past is prologue, Roosevelt Row could be entirely transformed by then. And Wright could bring even more concepts to the area, where he continues to see opportunities.
“Roosevelt Row has more of a neighborhood feel than downtown Phoenix, and it’s more walkable than uptown,” he says. “There are a lot of eclectic, independent spaces, but we’re trying to create our own lane.”