Tucker Woodbury has been keeping himself mighty busy lately. He and his partner, Jim Riley, have been refurbishing the historic house at Fillmore and 4th Avenue most recently occupied by Local Breeze and slated to become The Fillmore Vig by the second week in July, if all goes well.
But that's not all. Woodbury and another partner, Charlie Levy (also his partner in Crescent Ballroom), opened a new country-Western bar called The Western at the edge of Old Town on April 25. (Check out Laura Hahnefeld's First Taste review, coming very soon.) And if that isn't enough, he has two other projects in the works: a fourth Vig in Flagstaff by late summer and a fifth in North Scottsdale this coming fall.
Woodbury hates hearing words like "local chain" applied to his projects, given that no two Vigs will ever be exactly alike. "We build neighborhood bars," he says, "so the menu and the vibe take on the complexion and personality of the neighborhood."
Moreover, each building is vastly different. Woodbury has always favored adaptive re-use, typically finding cool old buildings and making the most of their good bones to create something hip and contemporary. He'll do that with the historic, two-story McMillan Building on Route 66 in Flagstaff, just as he's doing it with the Fillmore space downtown. But the North Scottsdale Vig, which will be located in a shopping complex in McCormick Ranch, will be built from the ground up in a style he calls "Modern Territorial."
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Woodbury is also excited about the culinary team he's assembled. His new company chef Jorge Gomez (former executive chef at Chelsea's Kitchen and an eight-year veteran of LGO) has been collaborating with Vig chefs Matt Kolacz and Travis Sassman to update the menu and plate presentations. "I've never been more proud of our food than right now," he maintains.
In the meantime, he's having fun with The Western, which he describes as a sophisticated roadhouse -- booking blues, rockabilly, and rootsy country acts -- rather than a loud, themed country-western bar featuring mainstream country-western music. The place looks great, thanks to gorgeous mushroom-wood walls, a red velvet curtained stage that conjures the Grand Ole Opry, red stained floors, and cowhide barstools rescued from the Rocking Horse (Woodbury's first western bar, which burned down in Old Town in 1996). Woodbury hopes to draw an early crowd who wants to eat supper, and a later crowd who wants to make a night of it -- dinner, dancing, the whole shebang. Chef Christian Castro's large menu, which specializes in "cowboy comfort food," offers hush puppies, "trailer" nachos, brisket tacos, fry bread, chicken-fried steak, fried Oreos, and more.
We'll keep you posted on all three new Vigs when we have more details.