Q: What’s behind the decision to reinvent Phoenix Public Market Café?
A: In the past six months I split with my business partner, so my business shrunk in half, which is a good thing. The last couple of years I’ve had a lot of growth in my business and I’ve decided that I miss being in the kitchen and spending time there and creating new menu items. Phoenix Public Market Café is my main restaurant now. I have not worked in the kitchen on a regular basis since St. Francis about six years ago. Phoenix Public Market Café is six years old and we’re reinventing it and working on creating a more healthy, fast-casual restaurant. We have a farmers market out in our parking lot every Saturday and we’ll be using more of those products from local farmers and keeping it fresh and light.
Q: What are some of the changes you’re making?
A: I recently added six more vegan recipes to our menu. I want to add things on the menu that are going to nourish people. We still have some luxury items, like green chili stew pot pie, which will probably never go away and other items like that, but I want to focus more on fast, casual, healthy, fresh, local, vibrant food that’s going to nourish people and that makes me feel better, too. People are changing the way they eat and we want to evolve with that. We want to make sure that we’re providing offerings that are going to nurture the community and Downtown. We’re also working on a much quicker, faster, take-out program. We have a parking lot, easy access and a great location.
Q: Can you tell me about the collaborative dinners you have planned?
A: I wanted to start doing some collaboration dinners with emerging chefs and restaurant people. A lot of people know us as a lunch spot and I think the collaboration dinners will bring people in to experience Phoenix Public Market Café during dinner service.
Q: When is your first collaborative dinner?
A: On Thursday, Aug. 29, we’re doing a dinner with St. Pasta [a Phoenix-based food truck with the motto “Al dente or die”]. They’re from New Jersey, they’re edgy and they have great ideas. One has a marketing background and the other ran his father’s restaurants in New Jersey, so they’re very sharp. They’re coming in with a new perspective and I just really like them.
Date: 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29
Where: Phoenix Public Market Café, 14 E. Pierce St., Phoenix
Menu: Family-style appetizers: Vegetarian Italian Chopped Salad ($12.50) or Antipasta ($14.50); Pasta: Rigatoni Vodka ($15); Spaghetti Pomodoro ($14); Mafaldine Spiced Lamb and Beef Bologonese ($17). Dessert: Zeppoles ($8)