A new restaurant will be taking over the small retail space inside Grand Avenue’s Bragg’s Pie Factory mid-February, bringing with it familiar vegan and vegetarian food and for the first time, pie.
The diner is set to open at the art gallery located near Grand Avenue and McKinley Street, taking over the space of My Goodness Cakes.
Bragg’s Factory Diner started as the brainchild of Dana Stern, line cook at downtown coffee and crepe temple Jobot Coffee Shop; Liam Murtagh, a Jobot chef; and his wife, Emily Spetrino-Murtagh.
The diner plans to offer comfort food with a vegan and vegetarian twist. Dishes planned for the menu include coconut curry waffles, flaxseed pancakes, tofu scramble, beet burger and French toast with sliced oranges.
While the owners disagree on their favorite dish, their love for food is mutual.
“It is the food we are interested in and the food that we are passionate about making,” Murtagh said. “It is about convincing people that it doesn’t have to be weird techniques, (and) you can have normal food that you actually enjoy that is healthier for you.”
Stern said he plans the menu to be mostly vegan, but will also offer vegetarian substitutions. A goal of the restaurant is to change the attitude toward vegans and open others’ perspective to an idea of healthier alternative foods.
“People want to eat healthy but still want to have some eggs and cheese, and that is okay with us,” Stern said. “I’m excited to see people taste that and say, ‘This totally makes sense! I love this and I can’t wait to have it again!’”
The restaurant will focus on the history of the area that Bragg’s Factory Diner is in as well. Stern said from the beginning, the team realized they wanted to incorporate some of the local history without it being cheesy. They plan to incorporate old pictures of Bragg’s Pie Factory and the art culture into the decorum.
“We are going to build somewhat of a local shrine to Phoenix with pictures from our families, things like Wallace and Ladmo and Legend City, cool little bits of Phoenix that help shape the city,” Murtagh said. “Since it is a pie factory, we got to have pie.”
Beatrice Moore, the owner of Bragg’s Pie Factory, said she is excited for the addition of the diner, and most importantly, the option of pie.
“People are always stopping looking for pie and they get angry when they find out that there is no pie on the premise.” Moore said. “What they are going to serve is comparable to the Paisley Violin and I think that there is a niche to fill, which is the alternative types of food.”
Liam Murtagh and Emily Spetrino-Murtagh owned Sweets and Beats, a candy and record store, but closed the shop after Spetrino-Murtagh became pregnant with the couple’s second child.
Spetrino-Murtagh said it was her dream was to own a shop like Sweets and Beats, and she took pride in its success.
“I am definitely looking forward to doing a new venture,” she said. “I’m excited to bring another outlet for any vegans and vegetarians in the Phoenix Central area.”
Moore was also the landlord of Sweets and Beats, and is looking forward to the environment that the trio will create with Bragg’s Factory Diner.
“I don’t know really what they are planning,” she said. “It will be a surprise to me as to everyone else, but I think that Liam and Emily have a really nice sensibility, design-wise. From an artistic stand point, I’m sure they will do something interesting.”
Stern and Murtagh’s working relationship at Jobot has given Stern more confidence to open the diner.
“It has really given us a chance to see how compatible we would be in that type of working environment,” she said. “It has been going great so, full steam ahead!”
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