VegCo, a new plant-based supermarket, is expected to open in a to-be-determined Midtown location. By the end of this year, the local grocery store will make it easier for people in the central Phoenix area to knock out all of their meat-free grocery shopping in one place.
Heather Francois, the founder of VegCo, said the store will provide affordable, high-quality foods for the increasing number of people restricting their meat consumptions. Francois added that she wants to make grocery shopping more convenient for those with special diet needs.
“I wanted to tie all the factors together and serve those people who eat strictly organic, who are focused on local products and community, and who may have allergy concerns,” Francois said. “I also want to able to give (Phoenix locals) plenty of options.”
She added that Phoenix needs this supermarket because of the push for sustainable living and healthier diets.
“There’s a movement growing here and across the nation as people realize all the dangers of eating meat products,” Francois said. “People are becoming more educated on plant-based diets and how they are optimal for the human body.”
Want to skip the meat? Here are a few vegetarian dining options:
Other food experts in the area are also making changes to meet shifting demands as more people join in the plant-based food movement.
Ingrid Hirtz, a chef originally from Austria, said she began building a business around vegetarianism to show people that meals without meat can actually taste delicious. Along with cooking at Fair Trade Cafe, she recently started a vegetarian meal preparation service to serve the city economically and environmentally friendly cuisine.
Hirtz added that she hopes to make people realize the standard American diet is not the standard global diet.
“The United States focuses on meat,” Hirtz said. “If you go out to a restaurant, everything on the menu has a focus on the meat—such as a pork tenderloin or a steak. But in other countries, the traditional diet usually consists of some kind of legume or grain with vegetables—meat is more of a side dish.”
Whether it be her creamy vegetable korma curry or goat cheese quiche made with almond flour and sun-dried tomatoes, Hirtz said it just takes getting people to realize the food tastes good.
“Before, people thought of vegetarians as people who cut out meat and had to go to the salad bar or just eat side dishes.” Hirtz added. “Now, it’s a cuisine in itself. People don’t realize that it can be a very satisfying culinary experience.”
Now that Phoenix residents seem to accept and understand vegetarianism more than ever before, a local meat producer said she certainly noticed the shift in views.
Beth Wilson, owner of The Meat Shop, said when she first began giving out meat samples at The Phoenix Public Market, she worried that her products would not sell among this huge vegetarian population.
“I was thinking, ‘Wow, 75 percent of these people walking by won’t even look at or touch the samples,’” Wilson said. “I thought maybe that would impact my business in Phoenix.”
Luckily, Wilson said many people come from families who still eat meat, so they visit her shop for local products made from “happy pigs” and meats made without the use of preservatives or chemicals.
Even if people refuse her products because of vegetarian or vegan beliefs, Wilson said she understands and respects their goals.
She added, “It’s just a part of their search to live better, eat better, and be a better person.”
For those individuals that are seeking the ultimate urban Phoenix living experience, I can think of no better place than the chunk of Downtown Phoenix that the U.S. Postal Service calls ZIP code 85004.
Virtually everything Downtown Phoenix has to offer can be reached on foot or by bicycle living in this ZIP code. The diversity of “things to do” and “places to go” is overwhelming. In terms of types of dwellings, everything can be found here, including apartments in “luxury high-rise” buildings; recently built loft-style condos and apartments; small, affordable live-work apartments; and even bungalows in historic neighborhoods.
The 85004 ZIP code is bounded by Thomas Road to the north, Buckeye Road to the south, Central Avenue to the west and 7th Street to the east. Within this part of Downtown lies many of our large cultural and sporting venues, such as the Heard Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, Burton Barr Central Library, the Herberger Theater, Phoenix Symphony Hall, US Airways Center and Chase Field. Wow!
Consider the Downtown arts scene, with an extensive assortment of locally owned art galleries, gift shops, wine bars and restaurants in and around Roosevelt Row. Here is a limited list off the top of my head: Eye Lounge, Made, the Lost Leaf, Conspire, Modified Arts, Nine|05, the Roosevelt Tavern, Moira Sushi, Carly’s Bistro, Revolver Records, Matt’s Big Breakfast, PastaBAR, The Turf, Sens and the Breadfruit.
What’s next? How about shopping at the Phoenix Public Market? Or here’s a good one. People often complain that they would move Downtown if there were a large grocery store nearby. These people must have never driven by the Safeway at 7th Street and McDowell.
Bored yet? Why not take in a movie at the Arizona Center, with its 24 screens, or eat at one of the many restaurants there. Have a friend coming in to town for a conference at the Phoenix Convention Center? He or she can stay at the new Sheraton Hotel, attend their conference and then come visit you, without even needing a rental car.
I almost forgot about our new Civic Space Park across from the Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix campus. If you attend ASU or the U of A/ASU Medical School, it might be convenient to live in 85004.
I haven’t even mentioned places like CityScape or all of the restaurants in the Downtown core between Van Buren and Jefferson streets. I also haven’t mentioned destinations in the Warehouse District, such as Alice Cooperstown, Coach & Willies, AmenZone Primal Fitness Training and the forthcoming Deuce in the Anchor Building.
Last but not least, in the still somewhat undiscovered Central Park neighborhood, just south of the Warehouse District, lies some varied and unusual housing options as well as eye-candy places like the Bentley Projects.
I will leave the summarization of living in 85004 up to you, the reader. Clearly, there is something here for everyone.
Lyle Plocher is a licensed Arizona real estate broker with the Urban Connection Realty Team at HomeSmart. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Conventional Wisdom | Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists and Best Western North American Convention
It’s a beautiful time of year, and the Phoenix Convention Center will delight out-of-state visitors. DPJ extends its own form of hospitality by providing a little Conventional Wisdom, some insight into what can be found/viewed/sipped or snacked on while visiting Downtown Phoenix.
Let DPJ be the first to welcome you all to the neighborhood! Looking over your itinerary, we can’t help but notice you’re going to have some free time to explore the heart of our city.
Average high: 89°
Average low: 63º
If you find yourself on your own for lunch, Downtown Phoenix is a veritable mecca of eateries. Sink your teeth into a sub sandwich from Sticklers, where you can rub elbows with some of Phoenix’s finest, or grab a gyro from Crazy Jim’s — both are only a few blocks from the Convention Center at 3rd Avenue and Washington Street. Give them a try when you have a short break. If you have some time to sit and relax for a bit, savor our perfect patio weather and head over to Local Breeze on Fillmore Street and 4th Avenue for some lavosh with a side of ambiance.
Phoenix dinner options span across many regions and continents, and local homegrown dinner options are on the rise in Downtown Phoenix, with even more options if you hop on the METRO light rail. Moira Sushi Bar & Kitchen is a short hop from most Downtown hotels, and here you can find a creative spin on traditional sushi in a casual, urban environment. PastaBAR is just around the corner, dishing out housemade pasta late into the night — until midnight on weekdays, and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Check out our Eats & Drinks tab for even more options.
While you are in the area, take some time to soak in the local culture at the Phoenix Art Museum‘s current exhibit “Locals Only,” which is showcasing some of the Valley’s most talented resident artists. From here you can meander to the world famous Heard Museum, just up the street, or head back down to city center to explore some of our smaller galleries, such as Red Dog Gallery. Head a few blocks over for some wearable art at Made Art Boutique.
After taking in what our Downtown galleries have to offer, make a pit stop on your way back to the hotel in the Evans-Churchill neighborhood, where some of Phoenix’s historic homes have been renovated into low-key hangouts. The Lost Leaf offers a small local art gallery, beer and wine by the bottle and live music, while The Roosevelt touts its own house brewski and unique bar snacks, including grilled cheese sandwiches and soft pretzels with an array of mustards.
Check out RailLife.com for more light rail information.
These suggestions are merely a grain of sand in the desert oasis of Downtown Phoenix. Our calendar will help you find events and happenings that best suit you. Remember, we Downtown dwellers are kindly folk. When you are out and about, ask us where to go; a friendly Phoenician will point the way.
When people look for music in Downtown Phoenix, they ultimately find their way to Stinkweeds. Stinkweeds is an independently owned and operated music store and website dedicated to independent labels and bands. A Valley institution since 1987, Stinkweeds has been a fixture at the corner of Camelback and Central Avenue since 2004. While owner Kimber Lanning can often be found in and around the store, she relies on a committed staff to keep things humming. One of these people is store manager Lindsay Cates.
Lindsay has been working at Stinkweeds for the past decade, and is also responsible for keeping stinkweeds.com up to date. When asked what she likes most about working at Stinkweeds, Lindsay doesn’t hesitate to mention Kimber, who she says is the ideal boss: positive and passionate with a contagious good attitude. Lindsay also cites working at an independent business and her customers as job perks. “It is awesome being able to engage with others about music,” Lindsay says. She sees many customers on a weekly, if not daily, basis and notes that the customers, staff and bands that frequent Stinkweeds are like family. “If a regular doesn’t come around for a while, we miss them,” she says.
Lindsay eats, breathes and sleeps music. In addition to working at Stinkweeds, she is also the data entry guru behind SilverPlatter.info, a website dedicated to bringing Phoenicians the most comprehensive information about live music shows, venues and bands in the Valley. When Lindsay steps away from Stinkweeds her passion for music goes with her. She plays bass for several local bands, including Farewell Review, snow songs and Harcuvar. If she’s not working or on stage, Lindsay can be found at local music venues (especially the Rhythm Room), supporting as much live music as possible. On one of the odd days the Lindsay isn’t immersed in the local music community, she enjoys spending time at Downtown spots Copper Star Coffee, Conspire and The Lost Leaf. When asked where she likes taking visitors to Phoenix, Lindsay names her favorite new restaurant, Moira Sushi.
Lindsay is a Phoenix native, who, like many people who grew up in the Valley, had long desired to leave. Over the past few years, however, she has changed her mind and is now excited to be part of the Downtown Phoenix community, noting, “Downtown Phoenix is becoming a destination, with new, exciting businesses opening up.” In addition, Lindsay is thrilled about the cross pollination of local businesses, such as how local coffee institution Lux plays music from Stinkweeds, and refers customers to the store to buy music they hear while enjoying a coffee.
She acknowledges that Downtown Phoenix is still a work in progress, but encourages people to get out and participate in the Downtown community. “Getting around Downtown is easier than many people think,” says Lindsay, noting that by light rail, bicycle or walking, people have several options to get around and between the hubs that are developing along Roosevelt Row and near Central and Camelback.
Lindsay can be found behind the counter at Stinkweeds,12 W. Camelback Rd., weekdays from 11 a.m. until around 5 p.m.
All photos by Paul Valach