By Linnea Bennett
When Dean Thomas opened his first Cornish Pasty Co. restaurant in Tempe in 2005, he didn’t anticipate the business would expand so quickly.
Eight years after opening, the Tempe location has expanded from a 900-square-foot room to a buzzing restaurant with an open dining area.
Thomas has also opened a Cornish Pasty Co. in Mesa and has set his sights on opening restaurants in three additional locations: Old Town Scottsdale, Las Vegas and downtown Phoenix.
The downtown location, set to open by late summer, will be on Central Avenue and Monroe Street in the spot that was once occupied by Monroe’s Wine and Spirits.
“I remember, probably seven years ago now, I dragged my friend down there and said, ‘I found the coolest bar in town,’” Thomas said.
Unfortunately for Thomas, Monroe’s closed just two weeks after his discovery. The vacant venue became the perfect location to open a Cornish Pasty Co. downtown, he said.
Thomas took over the space in 2009, but four years passed before he could begin remodeling. He hit several roadblocks, including issues with city building codes and selling his idea to the landlord.
After years of wading through red tape, the small underground bar that used to be Monroe’s is now in the process of becoming Thomas’ double-level pasty place.
Fritz Abrahamson is one of Tempe’s “pasty preps” who grew up in downtown Phoenix. He said he is happy to see a new location open downtown.
“As a former Phoenician, I’m really excited about it. I’d much rather work downtown Phoenix than downtown Tempe,” he said.
One of the things Abrahamson said he is most excited for is the location’s unique basement bar.
“That’s pretty rare for a site in Phoenix,” he said.
General Manager Brandon Volkenant is also eager to see the new location and said he thinks Cornish Pasty Co. will be a good fit for the downtown community.
“Downtown needs it and they’re excited for us, and we’re very excited,” he said. “When that one goes up, we’ll be hiring a lot of people from the downtown area and (downtown) ASU students.”
The pasty, a traditional English treat, typically consists of meat and potatoes and resembles a small pie with a pastry-like crust.
“A lot of people that I don’t really care for, they describe it as a hot pocket,” said Thomas. “We kind of say it’s like a handheld pot pie.”
Abrahamson had another take on the pasty.
“Basically what I tell people is that whatever you see on the menu, it’s going to be wrapped in a pastry,” he said.
Cornish Pasty Co. is slated to make their debut to downtown Phoenix in July.
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