Chow Bella

Urban Campfire Partnership Fizzles

By Michele Laudig

Yes, it's true. The team behind Urban Campfire is at odds over the future of the business.

According to co-owner Robert Stempkowski, his business partner Stephen Wolff's vision for the Tempe restaurant is so different from the original concept that Stempkowski says he "can't participate in it."

"We have come to a fork in the road, conceptually," Stempkowski says.

In a nutshell, that means Wolff wants to have an abbreviated, cheaper menu focused on barbecue sliders, while Stempkowski would rather stay the course. After a summer of renovations to the University Drive eatery -- and recent efforts to repair damage incurred during that wicked monsoon storm that nailed the Valley -- Stempkowski says he's been overwhelmed with stress and expenses.

Before closing for the summer, Stempkowski had talked about franchising Urban Campfire. But now that's a big question mark. If Wolff goes ahead with opening the barbecue joint under the Urban Campfire name, Stempkowski says he will try to cease and desist the operation. He's already retained an attorney.

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Michele Laudig
Contact: Michele Laudig