A vintage building in downtown Phoenix could house a vibrant restaurant called The Dressing Room. A Kickstarter campaign could play a part.

A vintage building in downtown Phoenix could house a vibrant restaurant called The Dressing Room. A Kickstarter campaign could play a part.

Last week, I got a nudge from friend and gallery-owner Wayne Rainey. He was alerting me (and probably everyone he knows) about a restaurant startup that has the potential to make a big difference on Roosevelt Street in downtown Phoenix. In case you don’t know, Roosevelt Street is a place that is making a big difference in the City of Phoenix (and has been for years), and is even getting national attention for its vibrancy and artist-focused approach. (Here is just one recent example of the buzz smart Phoenicians have been able to create).

The restaurant initiative is called The Dressing Room, and I happily clicked through to read more; my experience is, if Wayne is involved, it is worth looking at.

I saw that it was a Kickstarter campaign, and I read all the information available about the chefs and their vision. Heads up: The Kickstarter closes on Tuesday, Feb. 24. You can read about it here.

And then I did something I don’t always do as I read Kickstarter pages: I watched the video.

Why? I don’t know. At least part of the reason is that hoped Wayne had directed and/or conceptualized it, as I would then be assured it would be compelling and watchable.

It was all that, but something else in the video leads me to share the Kickstarter with you today: I spotted some lawyers—good ones, too!

The video offers the chef–proprietors—Troy Watkins and Kyu Utsunomiya—the opportunity to explain their vision and their building plans. Both are ambitious; the rooftop dining area alone would make the restaurant a neighborhood favorite. From there, diners and imbibers could view the skyline, the sunset, and even the throngs of First Friday attendees. It’s a great idea.

But the video also let us view a casual dinner, hosted in Wayne Rainey’s monOrchid Gallery next door. There, the chefs presented sample dishes, and a gathering of neighborhood, business, and arts advocates noshed and chatted.

That alone would be enough for me to share this with friends and possible investors. But then I spotted two attorneys in the video.

monOrchid Gallery

monOrchid Gallery

I have come to know Nicole France Stanton pretty well over the years, and she is now the managing partner at the Phoenix office of Quarles & Brady.

Edward Hermes also appears in and speaks in the video. He is a Quarles associate attorney and practices in the firm’s Commercial Litigation and Indian Law Groups.

Nicole Stanton

Nicole Stanton

They and others spoke eloquently in the video about what makes a restaurant more than a site to find food. These are people who understand placemaking and urban vibrancy.

(Also present in the video is Upward Projects partner Lauren Bailey. Don’t know Upward? You may know their work. They own and run restaurants like Postino, Federal Pizza, Windsor and Joyride Taco. Having her attend the dinner and be in the video is a pretty positive sign for the restaurateurs. I reached out to Lauren for her thoughts on The Dressing Room concept. I haven’t heard back, but I’ll update this post if she contacts me.)

Late last week, I called Nicole Stanton to find out what attracted her to this venture.

The self-described “longtime friend and supporter” of Wayne told me she “loves the space and the story”—not to mention the food.

“I was intrigued because we are always looking for places to meet clients. Sometimes, you want something off the beaten trail.”

Stanton says she is always pleased to show off the neighborhood known as Roosevelt Row.

“Roosevelt Row makes us a real city. You have to have a vibrant arts community,” and that’s what you find there, she says.

“These are the folks who built the fabric of our city,” she continues. Roosevelt “expands your vision of what downtown is.”

She describes the food as terrific and “creative, comfortable, yet firmly grounded,” and she speaks more broadly about what comprises “the flavoring for the city.”

Local business owners are the life blood of the community. You never know who the next Sam Fox will be. We should be promoting their success.”

(Stanton also mentions another favorite restaurant. Oven + Vine is in midtown, and I agree that it is wonderful.)

As Wayne says in the video, “This is about feeding our community.” If you have ever been moved by the downtown artists district, you may want to head over to the Kickstarter page to learn more. And if you find some spare bills in your pocket, all the better.

Stephen Wade Nebgen

Stephen Wade Nebgen

Stephen Nebgen is at it again—offering information that may be helpful to artists and writers—and the lawyers who serve them.

I wrote about Stephen and his entertainment law mixers before. And next Wednesday, November 12, he holds another in his series of entertainment law workshops. This one will be in downtown Phoenix at MonOrchid Gallery and Studio (214 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix 85004).

Here is how Stephen describes the November 12 event:

“These events will be a little different than the seminars that you may have attended in the past. The biggest difference is that there will be a hands-on application of the information presented. For example, the first workshop will address issues of Copyright Law. After discussing the important nuances of Copyright, we will then go through the process of filling out a Copyright Application online.”

The event opens with a 7:00 pm reception, followed by the 7:30 program. The cost is $50 (or less if you’re a student or a member of IFP/Phx).

monOrchid phoenix-arts-collab-logo 6Stephen tells me that the event is aimed more for artists, but he believes attorneys would get a benefit also. And monOrchid shares a building with Songbird Coffee and Tea, so you can’t go wrong.

Follow-up workshops will be held on the second Wednesday of every month.

To RSVP, call (602) 253-0339.

The workshop is presented in collaboration with monOrchid’s own Shade Projects (which is worth its own story entirely!).

“Do we really have enough water? Really?

And thus began an intriguing panel last week on the topic of water in a desert climate. Anyone interested in water law—or in drinking, cooking or living in Arizona—should be attuned to the evolving conversation. This one occurred at Monorchid Gallery in downtown Phoenix. (It had been calendared for the Downtown Public Market, but rain—of all things—brought the event indoors.)

L to R: Heather Macre, Marc Campbell and Paul Hirt speak at a water resources panel, Feb. 20, 2013, Monorchid Gallery, Phoenix.

L to R: Heather Macre, Marc Campbell and Paul Hirt speak at a water resources panel, Feb. 20, 2013, Monorchid Gallery, Phoenix.

The panel was sponsored by Women Design Arizona and Blooming Rock Development. It is their second annual lecture series on “sustainable urbanism” in the Phoenix area.

The speakers had a wide variety of experience in water issues:

  • Heather Macre, a lawyer and member of the Central Arizona Conservation Water Board
  • Marc Campbell, a senior water rights analyst at Salt River Project
  • Paul Hirt, a historian at ASU

They covered a lot of ground (and groundwater) in their far-ranging conversation.

Macre mentioned the battles over the Navajo Generating Station, for which the EPA has advised requires huge and expensive changes.

Navajo Generating Station

Navajo Generating Station

Assuming improvements costs $1 billion (with a b) or more, Macre pointed out that we may have to reassess water pricing.

Other panelists took up the pricing topic. Paul Hirt relayed a humorous story demonstrating that water in Arizona is even cheaper than dirt. He got estimates on having a ton of clean topsoil delivered to his house. A ton of clean water (according to WikiAnswers, about 240 gallons) delivered from SRP would cost about 20 times the dirt cost.

“20 times cheaper,” Hirt marveled, “to get this precious, life-giving resource.”

In 1970, Hirt said, Tucson attempted to raise water rates. They began the process in the suburbs, the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, where the higher elevation equaled higher pumping costs.

Unwisely, perhaps, those first efforts at more accurately pricing water occurred in June, among homes of wealthy and well-connected people. The homeowners revolted, and Tucson has never reinstituted higher rates.

The SRP’s Marc Campbell urged attendees to examine all of the choices we make, as individuals and communities.”We need to ponder why we’re sitting in a desert city. We have to pick up the gauntlet, solve the problems.”

For Macre, solutions begin by reexamining relations we thought we understood. For instance, she says she tells people, “When you turn on a lightbulb, you’re using water. When you turn on your faucet, you’re using electricity.” Connections we always imagine to be intrinsically related may be just the opposite.

She echoed the other speakers when she mentioned the down economy as a time of opportunity. The “pause” in the economy may give us the chance to strategize and learn how we want to answer the question “Do we have enough water?”

Her answer? “Yes, but ….”

What’s your answer?

Congratulations to Taz Loomens, Blooming Rock, Tiffany Halperin and Women Design Arizona for an eye-opening conversation.


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