120 Seconds: Michael Monti

October 31, 2011 | 12:36 PM | 120 Seconds | By Chad Hays

On the clock today is Michael Monti, owner of the historic Tempe landmark Monti’s La Casa Vieja restaurant and a candidate to become the next mayor of Tempe in March 2012. We get the lowdown on his favorite Monti’s memories, his favorite things to do in the Valley, and find out what he’d bring to the City of Tempe as mayor.

So here’s how it works. We fire off questions, Michael answers and bam, we post them on the interwebs for the world to see. Let’s begin.

DLT: What is your favorite Monti’s restaurant memory?
Michael Monti: When I was a kid, before VCRs, having a big family dinner in the Zane Grey room and dragging in the TV with rabbit ears from my dad’s office to watch a network broadcast rerun of a Pink Panther movie together. For a kid growing up in the restaurant industry that’s a special treat.

Who’s one person you’ve never served in your restaurant that you’d like to?
Dead: Carl Hayden (He ate there, but not during my tenure). Alive: Samuel L. Jackson, but in character as Jules Winnfield, or maybe Joaquin Phoenix in character as…Joaquin Phoenix.

When did you discover that Monti’s was haunted?
There have always been stories whispered, but back in the 1980s people really began to talk about unusual things happening.

Have you experienced any of the haunted happenings in the building?
Other than the occasional creepy “being watched” feeling, the most unusual thing was when some investigators captured EVP recordings of a woman’s voice. Eerie.

Besides being at Monti’s, what’s your favorite thing to do in Tempe? In the Valley?
Tempe: Hike up “A”-Butte for fresh air and exercise (especially when pushing a double stroller) when the stress builds up. Elsewhere in the Valley depends: Christen and I are all about the kids, so look for us on any softball field, gym, or toting them around in a wagon at the Phoenix Zoo.

If you could only have one last meal and drink at Monti’s, what would it be?
A rib eye with a bottle of Graziano Zinfandel. Peach cobbler with ice cream. Food coma.

Paper or Internet for your morning news?
Google Reader via Android. No papayri.

Coffee or Tea?
Coffee all day, every day. French roast.

Any recent additions to the Monti’s menu?
The California BLT with guacamole instead of just avocado is my wife’s new favorite. But the guests are really loving the new salads, especially the Cajun-seasoned Grilled Shrimp salad with citrus vinaigrette.

Why are you running for mayor of Tempe? What qualifications do you bring to the position that the other candidates don’t?
Monti’s La Casa Vieja has made a lot of history over the years but when it comes to being the next mayor I think there is a lot more history to be made. I am grateful that the popular, outgoing Mayor, Hugh Hallman, has endorsed me, but I want to expand on his record too. That’s why I’ve laid out some innovative ideas at www.monti4mayor.com. I want Tempe to be the “Innovation City.” And I for one believe that the perspective and experience I bring as a small business person can best achieve this for our amazing city.



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