Popular Flagstaff Restaurateurs Expand to Tucson (Not Phoenix) and Who Can Blame Them?

Categories: Buchanan, News

Criollo -bar.jpg
Nikki Buchanan
Criollo Latin Kitchen in Flagstaff
When Flagstaff restaurateur Paul Moir of Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar and Criollo Latin Kitchen and his good friend and fellow eat-local enthusiast Derrick Widmark of Diablo Burger left me a voice mail saying they had some good news to share, I was delirious. I figured they were expanding their operations to Phoenix, both of them, just as they'd spoken of doing for over a year. It even crossed my mind they were doing something together.

See also: Chris Bianco Writing Pizza Cookbook with Local-Food Movement Guru Gary Nabhan

So imagine my disappointment when they told me they're both opening their own new restaurants (yay!) in the historic Rialto Building in downtown Tucson (boo!). But after hearing their reasoning, I can't say I blame them.

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Courtesy of Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar
Brix in Flagstaff
Widmark is quick to say, "We don't want to turn this into some Tucson versus Phoenix rivalry thing, but we're excited to see the grassroots, entrepreneurial-driven revitalization that's going on in downtown Tucson. What with all the urban housing and the light rail coming, it's all happening in the next 12 to 18 months."

He and Moir are also excited about what they call the "authenticity" there -- where old buildings are refurbished, not destroyed to put up something new. The Rialto (which dates somewhere between 1912 and 1920) has been purchased by Tucson developer Scott Stitler, whom Widmark describes as a guy with a vision, not just a landlord looking for a monthly paycheck.

"He bought three blocks at the center of Tucson, and he went looking for people to turn those three blocks into the center of the community," says Widmark, who adds that downtown Tucson feels "analogous to what we have in Flagstaff, where our restaurants are an integral part of the city." The Rialto, he says, is "true to place," which creates a comfort level for both Moir and Widmark -- who value history and the notion of fostering community.


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12 comments
DanWinter
DanWinter

Heck yeah guys.....these restaurants are going to kill it down there!

tucsonan
tucsonan

The Rialto building was built in 1920 and is on the National Register.

arizonan
arizonan

barb... consider the title of the article.  ...not so nice to begin with.

writestf
writestf

Nikki, you made my day with this piece! I'm looking forward to your coming down here and trying them all with me!

QstionEvythng
QstionEvythng

Diablo Burgers - Devil Burgers - in the heart of Wildcat Country....Really??  The food may be good, but you may want to rethink the marketing approach.

barb166
barb166

We adore Brix (eaten there every time we visit Flag) and Criollo. Now with a daughter in Tucson, we've been enjoying the very vibrant restaurant scene and can't wait to try yours out as they open!

DesertBear
DesertBear

Tucson welcomes you with open arms! With the success of HUB, 47 Scott, Scott & Company, Janos Kitchen & Cocktails, The Cup, Hotel Congress, The Tap Room, V Thai, Reilly Pizza & Drink, Empire Pizza, Monkey Burger, Enoteca, Cafe Poca Cosa, the Fox Theatre, the Rialto Theatre itself and the all bars and shops on 4th Avenue within 1/2 mile of one another you're in very good and compatible indie company folks!

StankFanger
StankFanger

Enjoy going bankrupt in Tucson bitches.

writestf
writestf

Um, it's Edie here. For some reason FB decided to use my email address.

barb166
barb166

 @StankFanger Stank....remember the adage, 'if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all'? well, it holds true here. why do you wish ill on these folks who just want to provide good food to people looking for it?

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