Rick Phillips of EATERAZ to Open Casual Restaurant with BBQ Component + Moonshine -- and Guess Who's Partnering with Him?
As the likable smart-ass behind the food scene blog EATERAZ and the guy who puts on both the Arizona Taco Festival and the Arizona BBQ Festival (all with considerable help from his equally likeable and possibly more smart-ass partner Dave Tyda), Rick Phillips is known for being a magazine publisher and a think-outside-the-box festival producer and promoter.
Courtesy Photo Inside Bootleggers
But he's about to put on yet another hat: restaurateur. Yep, the guy who has reported on restaurants since the '90s (he co-founded Desert Living magazine, you'll recall) is now going to own one, and verily, it shall be called Bootleggers, located in a strip mall at 3375 East Shea Boulevard. What's more, he's got big-name talent helping him with the menu, plus a bona-fide pit-master to handle the 'cue. Here's how it all went down:
Phillips became friends with KCBS-winning pit-master Kevin Slade through his AZ BBQ festivals, and one day, Slade suggested the two of them open a restaurant. Philips, who says he panicked at the thought, called Matt Carter, who keeps himself pretty busy these days with Zinc Bistro, The Mission, The House and soon, a new Zinc at Sky Harbor Airport. Carter immediately expressed interest in helping with the project, reportedly saying, "I couldn't resist being part of a place that serves a cold can of PBR."
Courtesy Photo James Fox
Truth is, Carter himself is a bit of a 'cue buff, competing in barbecue competitions with his team called the Smoke Junkies, so Phillips' concept would have obvious appeal. As for Phillips, he says he was eager to see what a guy with Carter's culinary chops would do with, say, chicken wings. (Carter won't actually be in the kitchen but he will be involved with the project.)