When community members insisted on a pizza place on Central Avenue, five local restaurant owners came to the rescue.
Craig and Kris DeMarco, Lauren and Wyatt Bailey (as a group known as Upward Projects) and Tory DeMarce, who own and manage several other downtown Phoenix restaurants such as Postino and Windsor, collaborated once again to create Federal Pizza. The restaurant, located on the southwest corner of Central and Oregon avenues, will feature wood-fired pizzas and is set to open on Oct. 9.
“Our neighbors have been super supportive. We asked them what they need and they said it would be nice to have a pizza place on Central (Avenue) and we thought that would be a fantastic idea. We basically take what they give us,” DeMarce said.
Federal Pizza will be a casual dining location with affordable prices, said DeMarce.
“It’s not going to be somewhere you can only go on a special occasion. We want people to come any day and hopefully multiple days a week,” DeMarce said
The menu will feature not only pizza but pasta and salad as well, all comprised of local ingredients. They plan to have deliveries six days a week in order to secure the freshest ingredients at all times. All of the chefs designing the menu have worked with the owners before in their other restaurants. MJ Coe, who bakes the bread for all of their restaurants and also makes the bread for Tammie Coe Cakes, will be guiding the dough process for the pizzas.
Adaptive reuse, a trend for downtown Phoenix local businesses, also played a hand in the location selection for Federal Pizza. It will be located inside the First Federal Savings & Loan building, designed by architect Al Beadle.
The venue selection “was like fate. It’s close to the other restaurants and the neighborhood and the architecture was from Al Beadle. It was like the stars lined up,” DeMarce said.
According to modern Phoenix architecture aficionado Alison King, Beadle was one of the Arizona architects known for his international style and critical acclaim. King is the founding editor of Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network. This network consists of an online collection of photographs, articles, maps and discussions of mid-century design, art and architecture in Phoenix, according to its website. The website also houses the Beadle Archives, a photographic survey of the architect’s major works.
“The angled capitals on the Federal Savings & Loan building provide a whimsical twist that shows the innate strength of the building’s materials,” King said.
The building has large windows and skylights, providing a plethora of natural light. There are also metal beams and stone columns that the owners intend on preserving in the restaurant.
“We are just polishing up the gems that people put in before us,” Demarce said.
The building, although respected by many Phoenix residents, is not a formally listed historic location. However, it is eligible for listing and it has been considered before, said Kevin Weight, a planner with the city of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office.
Weight said there are three criterions for historic eligibility: The building must be over 50 years of age, have historic significance and have historic integrity. Although the First Federal Savings & Loan building does not meet the age requirement because it was built in 1970, the age requirement could be waived because it was designed by the famous Beadle.
“It’s great to see that the restaurant owners are keeping the building and keeping its historic integrity,” Weight said.
Upward Projects also plans to open a Mexican restaurant in the location that formerly housed Aiello’s Italian Restaurant in 2013, according to a press release. There is not yet a set opening date.
DeMarce, who will have a hand at managing this new venture, said it’s difficult opening two restaurants at the same time but “with the right people and the right team it runs much smoother. As we get smarter and stronger, it gets easier,” he said.
“We want to take our time and get it right. All we know for sure right now is that we have a great spot on the Central Corridor,” DeMarce said.
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