It's the end of an Arizona dining era, as we know it. Fox Restaurant Concepts was acquired by the Cheesecake Factory Incorporated (NASDAQ:CAKE) last week in a $353 million deal. Chief executive officer and founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts, Sam Fox, seems optimistic about the partnership, which will integrate 11 concepts in over 50 restaurant locations nationwide.
Fox will continue to lead his restaurants as a "wholly-owned subsidiary" out of their Phoenix headquarters inside The Henry, according to a press release.
"This partnership will be the first of its kind for the restaurant industry," Fox says. "David Overton (chairman and chief executive officer of The Cheesecake Factory) and I quickly realized the magic occurring between our organizations while we worked through North Italia’s integration. With our aligned cultures and philosophies, The Cheesecake Factory is the right partner to embrace our creative spirit, enabling us to innovate concepts, while providing the infrastructure and capital to scale.”
An old adage goes, "Don't fear change — embrace it," and we plan to do just that. We'll keep our fingers crossed that Fox's legacy can be carried on through the Cheesecake Factory. In the meantime, here are our top 10 Fox Restaurant Concepts ... concepts ... from Phoenix's present and past.
10. The Greene House15024 North Scottsdale Road, #100, Scottsdale
A California-style menu is served from a California-inspired bungalow at The Greene House in Kierland Commons. The tuna tartare tacos or yellowtail sashimi are a good place to start here. Go for a salad or sandwich after that or choose from entrees like the homestyle pot pie, sea scallops with bacon gastrique, or fresh shrimp pasta.
Sides like green beans with Marcona almonds and white truffle Parmesan fries are sure to sate any lingering appetite. Pair your meal with a glass of bubbly, red, or white, or choose from a selection of "Golden State Beers," sourced from, you guessed it, California.
9. ZinburgerMultiple Locations
Burgers and shakes are to be savored at the playful, family-friendly Zinburger. Check out their Phoenix restaurants at Sky Harbor or Biltmore Fashion Park, or hit the Scottsdale or Gilbert locations. If you're headed down south, Tucson has two Zinburger locations. The Samburger, named after Fox himself, is made with certified Angus and wagyu beef, then topped with bacon, American cheese, lettuce, and Thousand Island dressing.
Try the Buffalo or West Coast chicken sandwich (grilled or fried) or opt for Clint's Almost Famous Veggie Burger. Onion rings, sweet potato fries, or zucchini fries can be shared, but go for the double truffle fries if you want to get extra fancy — and full. Last, the cookies and cream shake should gratify any sugar cravings.
8. Olive & IvyMultiple Locations
Olive & Ivy hails proudly from the Scottsdale Waterfront, as well as Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. At the former, picture a sophisticated yet airy bistro fronted by a gelato bar and coffee shop. Raise a glass and fork inside for the Mediterranean-inspired fare, or al fresco on the patio for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch.
The melon salad with avocado, mint, and goat cheese is perfect for the fiery summer weather, or order the shrimp scampi risotto for a hearty dinner. The peanut butter mousse with a chocolate shell and coffee pudding is a sweet way to end your meal.
7. The Arrogant Butcher2 East Jefferson Street, #150
She may be arrogant, but for good reason. This place would theoretically be the love child of The Henry and Culinary Dropout. The refined downtown spot is right in the middle of the action at CityScape, a stone's throw away from Talking Stick Resort Arena. Belly up to the bar before or after a big game for a glass of red, white, or brew, or keep it classy with a cocktail — the Gin & Tonic #8 is made with Nolet's Gin and grapefruit bitters.
Crispy Buffalo chicken thighs are a good place to start with food, and the sky is the limit from there. The Arrogant Butcher has a raw bar; green goddess Caesar; and shrimp, chicken and sausage jambalaya. If you're the meat-and-potatoes type, the modest, yet cultivated selection should catch your eye. Choose from a New York strip, prime rib, or filet mignon.
6. Culinary DropoutMultiple Locations
This Fox Restaurant Concepts wild child originated in Old Town Scottsdale, across from Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. It quickly expanded to Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, and Gilbert with The Yard, a place where friends could gather to play games, have drinks, and listen to live music.
The famous pretzel balls and provolone fondue are easily shared, as is the laid-back ambiance. Culinary Dropout cocktails are known as "vices" and run the gamut from a mezcal, aloe, and chartreuse concoction to the Smashed Irishman with Jameson and Guinness. If ale is more your thing, go for a can or try the paperboy special from "who knows where."
5. Flower ChildMultiple Locations
This hippie healthy concept is the other Fox brand the Cheesecake Factory originally invested in back in 2016. Flower Child has reaped a bountiful harvest since the restaurant opened its Arcadia doors in April 2014. Now, there are 22 locations in nine different states. Phoenix alone has three Flower Child branches, in Arcadia, Desert Ridge, and the Uptown Plaza at Central Avenue and Camelback Road.
The fast-casual concept is on a "soul-satisfying mission to spread positively delicious vibes and healthy food." Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free folk, rejoice: There is something for everyone here. Choose from sides like Indian spiced cauliflower and grilled asparagus to build a plate, or go for a salad or bowl, with or without added protein like organic tofu and sustainable salmon. The gluten-free mac and cheese and chocolate chip cookie are not to be missed.
4. Doughbird4385 East Indian School Road
This concept derives its name from its cuisine — a combination of pizza, rotisserie chicken, and other goodies. Bird is featured throughout the menu in both conventional and inventive ways; crispy chicken potstickers, chicken and avocado salad, rotisserie chicken pot roast, and Thai chicken curry are just a few examples. Dough options range from pepperoni and fresh mozzarella to wild mushroom pizza.
And the Doughbird sauces are where it's at, truly. Dunk your pizza or chicken in horseradish creme fraiche, house ranch, or umami sauce. Dine in for a modern beachy ambiance or carry out — $29 gets you a whole bird, Caesar salad, choice of side, and large sauce.
3. The Henry4455 East Camelback Road
Upscale-yet-cozy feels are the usual experience at The Henry, an all-day classic American restaurant. Coffee and breakfast begin bright and early at 6:30 a.m., so waltz in and grab your cuppa, plus a two-egg breakfast or bagel and lox at the counter.
Lunch goes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner begins at 5 p.m., with happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m., and 3 p.m. to close on Wednesday nights. Saturday and Sunday brunch is its own occasion, featuring a table-side Bloody Mary and mimosa cart, chicken-fried chicken, and house rolls with bacon, cheddar, chives, and crème fraîche. This is a place to see and be seen, so don your Sunday best or throw on some shades and enjoy the patio views.
2. North ItaliaMultiple Locations
North Italia is one of the concepts that initially sparked the deal. The Cheesecake Factory has been making investments in the brand since 2016. Support services for North will reportedly move to Cheesecake's headquarters in Calabasas, California, when all is said and done.
This Italian staple with a modern vibe has locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson. The North Italia menu consists of classics like mussels, bolognese, and chicken Parmesan, as well as more off-beat selections — if squid ink pasta with calamari and shrimp is more your thing.
But happy hour draws big here. It's from 3 to 6 p.m. during the week and all day on Sunday, including half off bottles of wine. Go for the bottle and board for $20 and choose between the pizza, bruschetta, or chef's (charcuterie) board, plus a bottle of the house red or white.
1. Little Cleo's Seafood Legend5632 North Seventh Street
Sadly, this seafood legend didn't make it past 2018, but we fondly remember the gem that was once housed inside Culinary Dropout in Phoenix. We still miss the king crab, oyster bar, frog legs, and absinthe happy hour, and hope that Sam Fox will keep good on his word to find a new location for the restaurant.
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