Downtown Phoenix's first neighborhood is getting a bit more deserved attention these days, and its culinary culture just got a little richer. On Friday the team behind Garfield Historic District's famed former Valentine diner, Welcome Hospitality, announced they will be adding a second diner location in the colorful 'hood at the corner of 10th St. and Pierce. The announcement came with added surprise; that same intersection will soon also be home to the much-missed Gallo Blanco.
The joint-proclamation offers a glimpse into the sense of community that Garfield gives, and that both businesses have built themselves on. Doug Robson, owner of Otro Cafe and creator of the Gallo Blanco concept, says that though the identical location choice was unplanned, it will be beneficial. "When we found out that Michael was also doing something new right across the street, it seemed serendipitous."
The longtime Devour Phoenix Coalition chef opened the original Gallo Blanco in 2009 at the historic Clarendon Hotel. Quickly becoming a downtown Phoenix favorite (think: daily guacamole, housemade chips, and that Naco Torta), many Phoenicians were sad to see it go in 2015, clinging to the promise of its return someday. Now, it will now be housed out of a 1920’s brick building, formerly American Way Market, at what is known as the Four Corners of Garfield.
“There is something special about the building and the Four Corners of Garfield that just seem right for the reintroduction of Gallo. Our architects at Holly Street Studios have been working hard at honoring the building and being thoughtful about how we preserve its history as it is brought back to life."
Immediately across the street sits a small piece of vacant land, which the team at Welcome sees as a perfect space to expand their current nine-seat diner offering over at Roosevelt, while maintaining the charm for which Phoenix knows it. Michael Babcock, joint owner with Jenn Robinson and local artist and real estate developer Sloane McFarland, says construction will begin soon. "We are working collaboratively with Dinermite, a 3rd generation, family owned diner maker, and architect and Garfield resident Christoph Kaiser to re-imagine a whole new space to operate."
Working with Dinermite, the company that designed the iconic 5 and Diner spaces, as well as Kaiser, known for residential renovations in Garfield including the famed Silo House and the interior of Changing Hands Phoenix, will allow Welcome Diner to stretch their arms in both the front and back of the house. "This new space will have way more than nine indoor seats and a kitchen that will allow us to cook on a whole new level."
Babcock, who also happens to be a Gallo Blanco alum, says negotiations are in the works with the landlord regarding the original Welcome Diner space. Those worried that they may lose their favorite Big Jim homemade biscuit sandwich or happy hour Hurricane served by your favorite employee shouldn't fear.
"We hope you’re as excited as we are. It’s time for us to start a new chapter for our company and our community." Robson added. "We are honored and humbled to be joining the Garfield Neighborhood."
Both Welcome Diner 2.0 and Gallo Blanco teams are aiming to open doors by early 2017 or, if we're lucky, later this year. Diner admirers and Gallo reminiscents can look forward to traditional dishes and more of the creations that made us all regulars. And until then, enjoy the original Welcome Diner, sister restaurant Welcome Chicken and Donuts, and Robson's other brainchild, Otro Cafe for a taste of what's to come.