Venue Projects Beef Eaters sign

Longtime lawyer eatery Beef Eaters Restaurant, about to be reborn via Venue Projects

Here is a Friday Change of Venue story that really goes above and beyond. Let me explain.

Change of Venue is my casual Friday, where I divest myself of the pressing need to remain focused on law and law practice. I mean, give a guy a break!

Today’s story is a little far afield. But as I examined it, I realized how lawyerly it was. (Just when I think I’m out, they puuuull me back in!)

The story relates to an announcement just yesterday. The shell of a former restaurant is being transformed into a space that will house three diverse businesses.

So right away I spot a problem. This story has “adaptive reuse” scrawled all over it, and there are few land-use topics that are more lawyer-heavy than that one.

Making it worse is the name of the former restaurant: Beef Eaters, in Phoenix. That venue was a prime eatery of lawyers when it operated from 1961 to 2006. So as much as I want to give you an attorney-free, protein-rich blog post today, I’m afraid I can’t do it.

Who remembers lawyer meetings at Beef Eaters? I do!

The wood-paneled restaurant near the intersection of Central and Camelback was often lousy with lawyers back in the day. At yesterday’s press conference, a speaker pointed out that Beef Eaters was a site where many of the business deals that shaped the Valley were hammered out (and a few lawyers got hammered).

I recall quite a few State Bar of Arizona Section meetings being held there. It was always a pleasure to walk into the banquette-filled dining room. (Ironically, because Sections always watched their pennies, we never ate beef while we were there; we were chicken-only diners.)

Anyway, in case you’re wondering, here is what is slated to move into the refurbished digs by November 1:

  • A restaurant being developed by Justin Beckett, the culinary mind behind the award-winning Beckett’s Table.
  • Another branch of Changing Hands Bookstore, the first outside Tempe of the nationally recognized independent bookseller.
  • A collaborative office, work and meeting space, called The Lively Hood (say it slow; you’ll get it.)

The project is being conceptualized by Venue Projects, the folks who adaptively reused numerous other spaces in town, including the restaurant now known as Windsor/Churn.

Lorenzo Perez of Venue Projects said, “We’re salvage-hounds,” as he waxed poetic about the walnut floors, antique chandeliers and masses of clear oak they discovered on the property.

Even the seats for the press conference speakers—described by City Councilman Tom Simplot as “Austin Powers chairs”—came from the property, and will likely find a revised home in the new space. (See the fantastic chairs below.)

Venue Projects L to R: Shannon Scutari, Kimber Lanning, Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot, Mar. 28, 2013.

L to R: Shannon Scutari, Kimber Lanning, Phoenix Councilman Tom Simplot, Mar. 28, 2013.

Other speakers were builder John Kitchell, Local First AZ founder Kimber Lanning, and Shannon Scutari, of the Sustainable Communities Collaborative, which had pointed out that the Light Rail-adjacent parcel could be eligible for a significant amount of transit-oriented development funds (there I go with the legal stuff again). The architect on the project will be John Douglas, FAIA, who has designed, among other things, the Phoenix New Times building and the Heard Museum.

In honor of the Beef Eaters longtime owner Jay Newton, the project is called “The Newton.” And in synch with the project’s nostalgia, Lorenzo said he would like to hear people’s Beef Eaters stories. What events, happy or otherwise, did you attend there? Do you have photos of events and family gatherings? How about business (or Section) meetings?

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

To prime your interest, take a stroll over to the website of Modern Phoenix, where they have captured the leather-bedecked interior, pre-construction.

Have a great weekend.

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Last June, I wrote about a growing national boycott of Arizona by musicians in response to its passage of SB1070, our immigration-criminal law. The boycott was organized by Sound Strike, a coalition of musicians.

This week, we learned that Arizona activist (and possible Phoenix mayor candidate) Kimber Lanning landed a national convention of the Alliance of Independent Media Stores. One of the headliners will be the band Calexico.

To read Kimber’s letter imploring support for the February event, go here (or scroll to the bottom of this post).

For more on the story from the Republic, go here.

Here’s Kimber’s letter:

My friends,

Calexico

I have worked to secure the national convention of music industry professionals here in Phoenix from Feb 2-6. We will have about 100 folks in town from around the country and we’re trying to put a good face on Arizona. Six months ago, the organizers were considering boycotting Arizona, but we convinced them to come by outlining several concerts that would be a tribute to our Latino culture and heritage, which they are all very excited to see.

Calexico is my favorite Arizona band of all time (http://www.myspace.com/casadecalexico/music) and that’s saying a lot since I’ve been in this business for 25 years. They do a wonderful job combining indie rock with Mariachi and their live show is simply amazing. We are doing the show at Corona Ranch (http://www.coronaranch.com/), which if you haven’t been is truly a hidden gem here in town – at the base of South Mountain, it’s everything we are proud of here in Arizona. Opening the show will be Sergio Mendoza with Salvador Duran (http://www.myspace.com/ylaorkesta/music) and Mariachi Pasion (http://www.mariachipasion.com/).

I am asking all of my friends to please, please grab your partner, your family and friends, and come help us celebrate Arizona heritage with our guests from around the country. Calexico, as you may know, is very, very close to Gabby Giffords, and this will be their first appearance after the horrors in Tucson. We need to come together as Arizonans to celebrate and to heal.

If you only see one show this year, please let this be the one.

Friday, February 4th, 7 PM, tickets are available here or at Stinkweeds, Hoodlums, or Zia.

Lastly, a percentage of the proceeds will be going to Ear Candy Charity, an organization working to put musical instruments into the hands of children, which we hope will teach them compassion and tolerance. Music is the universal language, after all.

Thanks in advance, for your presence.

Kimber Lanning

P.S. please help me spread the word by inviting others I may not know who appreciate the importance of this occasion.

A constellation of immigration stories in the past few days suggests the depth of Arizona’s immigration debate. But it also points us to a possible solution.

First off, this Sunday morning saw a unique spatial approach to the immigration argument. It featured hundreds of people standing in the parking lot of the Heard Museum and forming a human postcard to send to Washington.

Their message? “S.O.S. Congress.” The words conveyed the notion that Arizona is more than just SB1070, and that Arizona—or any individual state—is not the best constitutional laboratory in which to cook up an immigration regime. No, the organizers insisted, the federal government is charged with immigration matters, so get to work.

 

(Gazing at the news photo, it took me a minute to realize that the organizers had placed three people as the periods in the acronym “S.O.S.” That is an attention to detail—and grammar—that has been woefully lacking in our immigration debate. Well played!)

It was organized by Kimber Lanning, downtown businesswoman and Local First Arizona founder and front person. Her position is that a good result will not flow from boycotts, but from comprehensive immigration reform.

Attorney General Terry Goddard at Sunday's event

Standing in the early-morning heat at the Heard were families with kids, the young, the old, some pets, and even some politicos, including Attorney General Terry Goddard, former City Councilman Greg Stanton, and legislative candidate Ken Clark.

Read a news story here.

And here are some photos from the Sunday event. (Thank you to Kathy Nakagawa, Frances McMahon Ward and Madison Ward for the great photos. The overhead shot is by Tom Tingle at the Arizona Republic.)

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(This past Friday evening was yet another panel discussion on SB1070. This one was held at the Phoenix law firm Fennemore Craig, and it was sponsored by the Arizona Latino Media Association. I got the notice about it Friday afternoon, so I’m very sorry I couldn’t attend. Panelists were legislator John Kavanagh, lawyers Antonio Bustamante and Nancy-Jo Merritt, and the terrific writer Terry Greene Sterling. Read her blog here.)

But I promised a possible solution, didn’t I?

That came to me yesterday while I read yet another story about Governor Jan Brewer’s recent statement about the topic. She continues to allege that the majority of immigrants coming across the southern border are not coming for work. No, she says; they are ferrying drugs and fueling that criminal economy.

“And they’re doing drop houses, and they’re extorting people and they’re terrorizing the families. … The majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming (into) the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels.”

The majority, eh? Even John McCain had to demurely dissent on that one. But it got me to thinking, especially when I read this morning’s story about the state’s crumbling health care infrastructure.

That story led with the tale of a woman who faced a terrible dilemma as state benefits end.

“[Deborah] Ferry is one of more than 12,000 adults with mental illnesses who do not qualify for Medicaid and will lose access to brand-name drugs, case managers, therapists, hospital care and transportation to their appointments when the cuts take effect Thursday.”

“When this all falls down, it’s going to be total chaos,” said Donna Hayes, who has received mental-health services in Arizona since 1979. “There are going to be more suicides, more hospital stays, more people living on the streets.”

I bet you’ve already figured out my brainstorm. Here are the steps to the modest proposal:

  1. Arizona has many immigrants coming across our borders every year.
  2. Whether they come from Mexico or Canada, they all have access to more inexpensive drugs than we do in the United States.
  3. If you were to believe the governor, many of those migrants are already accomplished at transporting drugs.
  4. Masses of Arizona residents are about to encounter a bleak future as our Legislature opts to end many medical benefits.

What does this add up to? Well, it’s a veritable Marshall Plan that can deliver inexpensive medication to Arizona residents.

Win–win, as they say in politics. And you heard it here first.