Sam Fox Talks Shop

April 14, 2011 | 8:33 AM | Restaurants | By Staff

After DLT outed Sam Fox’s latest super-secret project, this legendary local restaurateur agreed to give us a few minutes of his time if we promised to stop digging through the trash outside his Fox Restaurant Concepts HQ. And after whetting our appetite with some savory deets on his first foray into Downtown Phoenix, The Arrogant Butcher, Fox broke some news about our breaking news.

Yes, he’s the one tearing down the former car wash at 40th Street & Camelback. And yes it will be the sixth location of his popular modern Italian concept, NoRTH. However, Fox promises this all-new NoRTH will actually be more French Laundry than Italian Stallion. Confused? Read on.

You guys seems to be sailing through the economic downturn considering you’re still opening restaurants at a breakneck pace.
Fortunately, our restaurants are diversified enough and we hit enough of a variety of price points that we’ve been able to keep growing.

Speaking of which, tell us about Arrogant Butcher at CityScape in Downtown Phoenix.
We really want it to be a new place but with an old soul. Not over-the-top and flashy, but more like a place that’s been ingrained in the neighborhood for generations.

And where did you come up with the name?
We thought about a lot of different names before settling on this one. It reminded me of childhood and going to see the neighborhood butcher. He was always so confident in his food, could tell you what was best today, how to cook it, etc. A real pro’s pro.

And did you work with Cathy Hayes again on the design, a la the stunning Modern Steak (pictured at left). And more important, since you’re known for unique uniforms, what will the staff be wearing?
Yes we worked with Cathy again, and it’s a very understated look with lots of exposed steel and concrete and neutral fabrics. Basically, nothing too shiny or bright. As for the uniforms, it’s simply an update on a classic: blue jeans and a tailored, fitted white dress shirt with a skinny black tie.

So tell us about the new restaurant coming to Arcadia.
I’ve actually owned the property for three years now, but was just waiting for the right timing. It should be open in the late summer or early fall, and it will be an updated version of NoRTH. In fact, I just got back from a week in Northern California because the look and feel will be like a Napa Valley farmhouse. Meanwhile, the menu will focus on nice, fresh ingredients, including all-new pizzas and pastas made with this cool new pasta machine we’ve bought. Overall, it will only have about 50 percent overlap with the original NoRTH menu, and will also serve as our new [test] kitchen moving forward.

Are you planning a second story to capture those million dollar views of Camelback (and the U-Haul lot next door)?
There will be a large patio and plenty of windows, but we decided, after reaching out to the neighborhood, that a second floor would not fit with the nature of the surrounding buildings and homes.

Why has 40th street become such a culinary hotspot?
It’s all about the location and the demographics. It’s the mid-point of the Camelback Corridor that stretches from 24th street to Scottsdale Road, and also in the middle of the Biltmore, Arcadia and PV areas. Plus it’s really convenient, I personally drive past it every day.

Finally, do you have plans to expand, maybe buy up the U-Haul lot next door and create an LGO-like mini empire?
I’ve tried and continue to try to buy the U-Haul space. I’d love to open 1 – 2 other concepts and wrap all the way around the corner. But so far the U-Haul family is not selling. Besides, it’s been there so long that it’s kind of a local landmark. It’s known as the U-Haul corner.

    

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