Arizona restaurants were permitted to resume dine-in service May 11, but many opted not to. Some owners weren't ready to reopen into a coronavirus world, and some were doing well enough with curbside and takeout.
But others aren't opening back up because they've closed permanently during the COVID-19 shutdown.
We’re in no way out of the woods yet. But looking at the timespan from March 17, when all restaurants and bars in the city of Phoenix (and other cities in the metro area) were closed to the public, to May 31, a group of eateries did not make it through. Here are several of them.
Barrio Café Gran Reserva
On Saturday, April 18, Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s second restaurant, the art-filled, vegan-focused, Mexican-wine-serving mole palace Barrio Café Gran Reserva closed for good. “With a broken heart I am sorry to inform you that due to zero funding and coronavirus, we are closing,” Esparza announced via social media. “In order to save the Barrio Cafe, we have to shut down Gran Reserva,” she stated in another post. Barrio Café will reopen, though.
Who knew that most recent plate of honey butter-drizzled potato chips we had would be our last? The small-plates restaurant Bri, located along Seventh Street in the Coronado District, announced its closure via social media on March 19. Chef Vince Mellody opened Bri — the phonetic spelling of its namesake, the braai, a South African-style grill at which the food was prepared — in spring 2018. The restaurant offered unforgettable cocktails like the Bri Paloma, the Disco Lemonade, That Thing You Do, and many others in a hip, homestyle setting.
This build-your-own burger shop in north central Phoenix closed on April 23. Set on the northwest corner of Seventh Street and Bell Road, Caveman Burgers was opened in 2016 by owner Jeff Bobby. It was known for Arizona-raised, grass-fed beef, locally baked bread, wild toppings like fried duck eggs, and local beer including offerings from SanTan Brewing Co.
Delux Grill + Sushi
So long, shopping cart fries — Delux has closed after more than 15 years. “Since the Delux lease has expired, we regret to inform you the decision was made not to renew the restaurant lease. Therefore, Delux will not reopen and is closed permanently,” reads a statement on the Delux website. In addition to the “A La Cart” fries, Delux was known for its Niman Ranch-sourced meat, demi-baguette buns, Arizona craft beer offerings, and some beloved dipping sauces.
El Zocalo Mexican Grille
Located in downtown Chandler, El Zocalo Mexican Grille made the announcement to close on May 5 via social media. Silver lining: Owners Obed and Pam de la Cruz also have hinted at finding a new home for El Zocalo, so news of a reopening could be on the horizon. The de la Cruz family operated the Mexican restaurant for more than 20 years, and they continue to own and oversee El Sol Mexican Cafe & Bakery, Mangos Mexican Cafe in downtown Mesa, and the PHX Burrito House in the Melrose District.
The Arcadia-area pastry and coffee shop Lilac Bakery closed in late April. Opened in February 2017, the place was overseen by pastry chef and founder Lauren Paulsen and co-founder Peter Paulsen. “With a heavy heart we have come to the hard decision that due to the current economic climate we will not be re-opening Lilac Bakery and are now closed permanently,” the Lilac Bakery announced on its Facebook page.
The 2016-established Lochiel Brewing located in east Mesa at Power Road and Southern Avenue closed indefinitely on May 23 — so, technically not within the shutdown window, despite the closure being related to COVID-19. Owner and brewer Ian Cameron stated on the Lochiel website the closure is in an effort to “start a new transformation into a different business operation model to reduce/eliminate risk from questionable and debatable government decisions and actions that would inevitably destroy businesses and the lives/community they support.” Though the taproom has closed, the owner announced via the website that Lochiel Brewing will continue as a bottling line operation.
After more than 16 years that included frequent downs in business and ups in community support, Mark’s Café permanently closed in south Tempe on March 24. The family-owned cafe, located at Rural and Guadalupe roads, was overseen by Karen Vojtek and Executive Chef Mark Vojtek. “We hope that our presence in Tempe made a difference, and we will forever hold those memories near and dear to our hearts,” reads a statement on the Mark’s Café website. The morning eatery offered breakfast and lunch items, and even had a BYOB policy for a spell.
Sierra Bonita Grill
At the start of the COVID-19 shutdown, Sierra Bonita Grill ceased all operations, including takeout and delivery. Then, on May 9, the restaurant at Seventh Street and Glendale Avenue announced via Facebook the grill will remain closed indefinitely. “We are so very grateful for everyone who has supported us over the past 15 years,” reads the post. “Because of you, Sierra Bonita Grill embodied everything that is a locally owned, neighborhood hangout.” However, Sierra Bonita Catering is still in operation, and will soon be launching an online ordering form.
Teakwoods Tavern and Grill
There’s one less place to get soft pretzel sticks in the Valley. Though one location in Gilbert still remains, Teakwoods Tavern and Grill in Chandler closed in late April. The sports bar and eatery was shuttered by the plaza’s landlord after 25 years because of a failure to pay rent for the space.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on May 12, 2020. It was updated on June 2, 2020.
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