Picazzo’s spread | Photo by Debby Wolvos
All the news that’s fit to nosh.
Bitter End?: AZ Bitters Lab is ceasing production of its lauded cocktail enhancers. Arizona’s premier bitters producers shared the news in an emotional announcement on social media on April 26. “We are heartbroken to share that we have stopped operations and are no longer producing our amazing bitters,” it begins. “Recently, we were notified by the AZ Department of Liquor Licensing and Control (DLLC), in conjunction with the Attorney General’s (AG) office, that the DLLC has reversed a 2013 decision and have now declared that cocktail bitters are considered a ‘spirituous liquor’ in Arizona. Due to this ruling, AZ Bitters Lab (AZBL) has no reasonable path to continue production operations, at this time.” To pivot from a flavor extract/food producer to a spirits producer, AZBL would have to secure a liquor license and “start from scratch, on all levels” with its production facility, labeling, marketing, sales practices and more. Proprietors Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys ended their announcement on a hopeful note. “AZBL isn’t over... We don’t know what the next step will be, but we do know that we still have that creative spark that got us started all those years ago, and we will see where that light leads us next.”
Sayonara, Nobuo: After nearly a decade-long run, chef Nobuo Fukuda is shuttering his eponymous Nobuo at Teeter House restaurant – for good, he says. The pioneering omakase restaurant initially closed in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. Over the past year, the award-winning chef also lost his mother and contracted the virus himself. Yesterday, Fukuda confirmed to The Arizona Republic that he will not be reopening. “A chunk of my life is gone,” Fukuda told reporter Priscilla Totiyapungprasert. “It’s very sad. But then again, it’s happening everywhere, it’s not just happening to me, so I can’t be selfish about it. Just have to get through this, I guess.”
Say Cheese: You’re in a book club and a wine club, but are you in a cheese club? Now you can be with The Cheese Board by Tracy Dempsey Originals and ODV Wines. The every-other-month membership club features four or five cheeses produced by artisanal cheesemakers from around the world, crackers, a spreadable treat and sundry goodies to boost the tasting experience. Cost is $50, and the deadline for the latest session is Monday, May 3, at 5 p.m. Pick-up starts on Thursday, May 13, and continues through regular business hours through Saturday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.). If you’re not in a wine club yet, Dempsey has a solution: the ODV Wine Club. Similarly to The Cheese Board, it’s an every-other-month membership for $50 that includes a red, a white and “something else.” Tasting notes and a treat are also part of the deal.
GF Joy: Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen is opening a new location in Gilbert in May. The Williams Field Road outpost will boast a roomy indoor-outdoor layout with a rolling garage door that connects the dining room to the patio. “We can’t wait to welcome the Gilbert community to Picazzo’s!” says operations manager Chris Disney. “It’s our pleasure to offer a variety of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and allergy-friendly items. Families can enjoy a meal at Picazzo’s and get their favorite dishes, whether they have special dietary needs or preferences or not. We’ve actually had guests cry with happiness when they realize they can order exactly what they want, how they want it.” To wit: The Arizona-based chain recently launched an interactive nutrition portal so guests can easily analyze and select dishes based on their needs. We recently tried Picazzo’s Healthy Hour for our happy hour blog.
Feeling Crabby: Valley-based Angry Crab Shack continues its expansion plans with a 13th Arizona location slated to open in Scottsdale near Talking Stick Resort this spring. “While this year has certainly thrown some challenges our way, Angry Crab Shack has continued to grow and expand in Arizona and across the country,” says founder Ron Lou. “We’re eager to open the first Scottsdale location in a bustling area.” The restaurant specializes in seafood boils, oysters, po’ boys, lobster rolls and tiki-influenced cocktails.
Still Hiring: The restaurant industry continues to seek staff to replenish what it lost in the pandemic last year. This Wednesday, April 28, and Thursday, April 29, Kind Hospitality Group is hosting a hiring fair at eight of its locations in the Valley and in Southern Arizona. The organization hopes to fill more than 100 positions. Pop by from 1-4 p.m. on both days for open interviews at the below restaurants:
Barrio Brewing Co. Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport
5803 S. Sossaman Rd., Mesa, 480-988-7171
Macayo’s ASU Tempe
650 N. Scottsdale Rd., Tempe, 480-967-2552
6012 W. Bell Rd., Glendale, 602-298-8080
1474 N. Litchfield Rd., Goodyear, 623-209-7000
8608 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale
Macayo’s Superstition Springs
6538 E. Superstition Springs Blvd., Mesa, 480-807-1846
Panera Bread Tucson
4821 E. Grant Rd., Tucson
Panera Bread Oro Valley
10604 N. Oracle Rd., Oro Valley