After a successful run in the West Valley, the owner and head chef of Squid Ink Sushi is expanding his restaurant to downtown Phoenix in mid-May.
Schuyler Estes, 32, said the new location in CityScape would offer Asian-style cuisine such as sushi, ramen and Asian-style tapas. He emphasized that he will offer a variety of Asian foods, not just Japanese food.
Estes said he opened the original restaurant in Peoria in 2010 because he felt the city was crowded with corporate restaurants. But Estes is a downtown resident, and said he has always wanted to own a restaurant in that area.
“I like how it’s all very locally driven and how the community supports itself,” Estes said.
The downtown location will feature a take-out window with grab-and-go lunch during the day. And at night, the window will be used as an Asian street-food window, offering items like ramen, pork belly buns and fried rice, he said.
Estes applied for a liquor license, and he plans to have a full bar featuring classic cocktails with an Asian twist like sake, shocho — often called a Japanese-style vodka — and an extensive wine list featuring a few Arizona wines.
The restaurant hours will be 11 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends. Estes plans on having a happy hour, though he isn’t sure yet at what time. Prices will range from $6 for appetizers to between $17 and $25 for entrees.
Sam Evans, 23, the manager of newly-opened Yogurt Time in Yogurtini’s previous location in CityScape, said the plaza could use a sushi place, but questions late-night hours on weekdays.
“That’s not going to work. It’s not busy on weekdays,” Evans said.
Evans mentioned that it is important to keep a close connection with customers when running a restaurant.
“The more you talk to people, the more likely they will keep coming back,” Evans said.
The interior is sleek but gritty, Estes said, and it can appeal to businessmen during the day and transform into a hipster hangout at night.
He said he likes how closely the community is connected to art and music, and plans to have live music and promote local artists; he envisions having an ever-changing mural on one wall that artists paint and repaint.
“We will fit right into the culture that’s already down here,” Estes said.
Health science senior Kamrie LeBlanc, 25, has been to the Peoria location, and said she would visit the new one when it opens.
She said she really liked their sushi and thinks “it’s modern and trendy.”
Estes said they’re having fun planning the new location, but they’re still playing around with the details.
For Estes, it’s always been about the food. With 16 years of experience under his belt in restaurants throughout the Valley, his interests have come to lie specifically in Asian flavors.
“I love sushi,” Estes said. “How could you not?”
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