Fox Restaurant Concepts and development partner Brian Frakes plan to open the first East Valley Culinary Dropout location in October 2014 on First Avenue and Farmer Avenue in Tempe, Ariz. Known for its innovative restaurant concepts, FRC is planning its largest project to date with this Culinary Dropout location at Farmer Arts District at an estimated 14,757 square feet. This development will be the first of many upcoming projects in the revamped Farmer Arts District in Downtown Tempe. Similar to the Yard located in Phoenix, the FRC industrial space will encompass a large outdoor patio featuring yard games, a private dining venue named The Showcase Room and other local businesses.
The announcement of this new project comes at a time when development has been exploding in Tempe’s urban core. The warehouse-like building that will house the future Culinary Dropout and several other local businesses is located at 149 W. Farmer Ave. and was originally constructed in the 1960s for Thorens Showcase and Fixtures. After becoming vacant for quite some time, an out-of-state information technology firm bought the parcel of land and, in July 2013, the company negotiated a sale with FRC and Frakes.
In 2006, an initiative to enhance the Farmer Avenue corridor began with the addition of artist lofts and talks of adding more creative spaces and businesses. The vision for the Farmer Arts District also included a pedestrian pathway along Farmer Avenue from Tempe Town Lake to University, which FRC plans to continue and expand even further during development. Other businesses planned for the area include a revived high-rise condominium tower, a Whole Foods Market, and The Lodge Bar & Grill, which is taking over the Sail Inn space.
“We have been following the growth of the cultured Downtown Tempe area for a considerably long time now. With the increase in business professionals and upscale living options in the vicinity, we knew that our Culinary Dropout concept would be a great fit,” stated FRC founder Sam Fox. “We hope to spark an interest from other like-minded businesses, to trigger the ‘work, dine, play’ model for the Farmer Arts District again, and see final results of the area developed within the next three to five years.”
As part of Culinary Dropout, FRC will open “The Showcase Room,” a new venue that will offer Downtown Tempe’s hip, young, urban professionals several private dining spaces and attract more high-profile business, alumni and lifestyle events. The Showcase Room is a private dining venue that can serve up to 250 people, with its own entrance and dedicated bar. Measuring at 4,435 square feet, the exclusive, private room can actually be divided into two separate spaces to be used by smaller parties and is retrofitted with A/V equipment to be used for a variety of purposes. A second private dining space, nicknamed “The Coop,” can seat 86 additional guests.
“We are excited to add the Culinary Dropout concept to the vibrant Downtown Tempe mix,” said Mayor Mark Mitchell. “This project is a key component in our desire to expand the downtown to the east and west of Mill Avenue by bringing new jobs and truly innovative development.”
The other local businesses housed inside the property include local entertainment-based fitness club The Madison at Farmer Arts District (branching from The Madison Improvement Club). Originally from Tempe, The Madison owner, Andrew Varela, wanted to introduce the healthy community club concept to the ever-growing city. The Madison will feature the “Party on a Bike” spin studio with 60 bikes, showcasing a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system influenced by a premier night club in London. The Madison boutique will carry a variety of clothing and accessories, including private–label pieces. The s.e.e.d. café, originally found at The Madison Improvement Club, will provide prepackaged healthy and tasty to-go salads, juices, one– to three–day juice cleanses, house–made energy bars and raw desserts at the Farmer Arts District location. The Madison at Farmer Arts District will be 3,956 square feet and will schedule about seven classes a day during the week and four classes a day on weekends. The Madison is expected to be the first business to open in the venue later this fall.
Continuing Downtown Tempe’s long history of live music, Culinary Dropout at Farmer Arts District also has included a stage in the building plans with hopes of attracting hot, local artists waiting to be discovered. There will also be a large, 2,758–square–foot outdoor lounge patio with eight sections of seating and an Outdoor Beer Cooler. The outdoor gaming area will have ping pong, corn hole and other family favorites. Patrons will have access to close to 90 parking spaces as well as valet service.
For lovers of Culinary Dropout’s famous pretzel fondue, FRC has planned the kitchen in the Farmer Arts District location to be its most state–of–the–art kitchen to date. This kitchen will serve all the spaces in the building and feature an array of menu options to accommodate all the spaces including the corporate training space and cater up to 1,300 people.
Construction on the Culinary Dropout at Farmer Arts District began in March. More of the local businesses that will occupy the space will be announced soon.
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