There are definitely some AZ brands that I love…businesses that I think just do it right. Then there are some that just drive my crazy. One of my fundamental rules in life is “Don’t #$%$ it up.” Don’t have to do anything exceptional to be successful. Just don’t do anything stupid.
Well one place that drives me crazy is Fenix. It is a small French bistro on Camelback & 40th Street. My family have been going there for a couple of years & really enjoy it. Mussels & frites (fries), great bread & just solid French bistro food. Well, when I finally got a chance to try it, I got there to see guess what on the bar. A SUSHI CASE! It was the first night they were debuting & they were launching sushi. Ok… So I’m going to spend money to go eat sushi at a French bistro that is looking for ways to stay profitable? I’m not going to drive just a bit further & hit Hapa or Yasu or something? I’m just going to go to Fenix for sushi? Uh, no way…
This comes to mind because as I was driving home this weekend, I saw that they’ve even added on a huge piece to their sign. Instead of saying Fenix bistro, it now says Fenix bistro (and in letters as big as the Fenix part), the add-on sign below says “and SUSHI.” What???
They just don’t get it. I really feel they had the possibility to tell a compelling story. Neighborhood, authentic, quaint, French bistro… And affordable? Sounds like a good platform to me. Dress it up with a few unique things (maybe cheese flow in from France or French wine specials/education or a local bread made in a special French recipe). Something. Anything. But don’t go sushi on me!
Some of the local brands that I think really get it & tell a compelling story.
Lux – I’m not even a huge coffee fan but I can’t help but love Lux. We found it as my wife is a huge coffee fan & I’d heard great things about it. We were also in search of good locally roasted beans. Finding Lux was a huge bonus. Coffee, latte art, sugared rim lemonade, croissants, kids books, art on the walls, beans, Mrs. Meyers… It just exudes quality and character from every pore.
Bianco – Handcrafted exceptional pizza. I absolutely love that every pizza goes through Chris Bianco’s hands. I love that when he goes to Italy every summer, Pizzeria Bianco and Pane Bianco go dark. Up to 4 hour waits at Pizzeria Bianco every day. He could have so easily sold out & own a chain of 10 or 100s of pizzerias by now. Instead, he hunts the farmer’s markets himself, uses ingredients and condiments of the best quality, bakes his own bread and is there behind the pizza counter to smile & nod at you. There’s a reason why this place is so successful. It’s Bianco. He’s not out doing interviews or chef tours or anything. He’s behind the counter making the best pizza in our state, possibly even the country.
Rito’s – Insane green chili. They don’t even do tacos anymore. Too much work. I love, love, love Rito’s. It’s a family joint run by the mother and now handed down to a few sisters. Cash only. Only a few things on the menu. Barred window. Open only 9-4 Monday through Friday. No sign. No advertising. Don’t approach the counter on your cell phone (even a warning to such posted on the cage). A few picnic tables outside if you’re interested. But if you do find it and it is open and you do have cash, you can get the best green chile I’ve ever tasted (and I don’t even like green chile).