Talk about a Tequila Sunrise. Not on the list for tonight VIP pre-opening party at Canteen Modern Tequila Bar? Get all the insider details with this Q&A with owner and Mill Ave maestro, Julian Wright.
Although not as famous as fellow restaurateur, Sam Fox, no one has brought more sizzle to Mill Avenue over the past decade than Julian Wright. Owner of La Bocca Pizzeria and Wine Bar, this ASU grad also created former Tempe hotspots , Jax Thai Bar in 2000 and The Library Bar and Grill two years later. Now, he’s set his eyes on upscale Mexican cuisine with Canteen Modern Tequila Bar, located across from La Bocca and scheduled to open this October.
During a recent phone interview, where sounds of Canteen’s construction could be heard in the distance, Wright gave us the inside scoop on Mill Ave’s newest haute hangout. According to Wright, this sleek tequila bar and restaurant (boasting a 2,300 square-foot patio) will feature ‘reasonably-priced gourmet coastal and southern Mexican dishes,’ as well as no less than 120 100-percent blue agave tequilas.
The rumored grand opening of Canteen was said to be October 7, is this the confirmed date?
No, Thursday the 7th will be the soft opening. The 15th and 16th will be the grand opening weekend.
It was recently reported that once Canteen opens, Fat Tuesday, Robbie Fox Public House, and Canteen could eventually have connecting patios so that patrons can go from bar-to-bar as they please, is this true?
No, there is no truth in that.
Tell me a little about your extensive tequila list. We know you are offering 120 different tequilas, but what is the price range?
We will strive to bring all 100 percent blue agave tequilas to Canteen’s full bar. They will mostly be from low-mid price range so that Canteen is an affordable, approachable tequila bar. We will also offer tequila tastings to allow exploration of our vast selection. People don’t realize that for under $10 you can get great tequila without damaging your wallet.
You’ve done gourmet Thai and Italian food, why Mexican? How is Canteen’s menu going to stand out from all the other Mexican restaurants around the Valley?
I have been working on this concept for five years now and it has transformed into what it is today. Mexican food is a staple in this town, and personally it’s my favorite. Mexico is also my favorite place to visit. The Tempe area is lacking a fresh approach to Mexican food, and that is what Canteen will bring. A lot of Tempe’s Mexican food is focused on a quick-serve concept. Canteen will have a lot more going on with its gourmet Mexican menu.
Finally, although he was hesitent to go on the record, Wright says he has four other concepts in mind for the Downtown Tempe area. So stay tuned for details.