Archive for the Restaurants Category

Final Visit: Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse in Scottsdale, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants on June 26, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend Coupe):  533,806

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Odometer (Legend Sedan):  146,900

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Odometer (ILX):  132,419

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Trip Distance:  42 Miles

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I got my necktie chopped off last night at dinner.  Ever heard of a restaurant that does such a thing?

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I’m on a roll here with visiting the “endangered species” of local restaurants.  Just a few weeks ago, my friends Kevin, James, Devan, and I visited historic Bill Johnson’s Big Apple in Phoenix the day before it closed for good after being in business for 59 years.  This time, Kevin and James and I wanted to check out another long-lived Phoenix landmark on the brink of extinction:  Pinnacle Peak Patio.

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PPP opened in 1957 in what was then a very remote part of town far north of Scottsdale, Arizona.  Back in those days, it was a rest stop and general store, mostly visited by people headed to the nearby lakes.  Oddly enough, there are cows perched on roof, just like Bill Johnson’s had.  The restaurant’s last day open will be this Sunday.

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Even today, the location of the restaurant feels way out there.  It’s a solid 20 miles from “downtown” Scottsdale and I can only imagine how much further it must have felt 58 years ago, before urban development encroached upon it.  The homes in the surrounding area are high-dollar estates with names like DC Ranch and Troon, a luxurious master-planned golf community.  That’s why Pinnacle Peak Patio is so refreshing — in a sea of hoity-toity high-class homes, it’s a place that embraces a kick-back attitude.  Which is why, as you’ll understand, neckties are outlawed.

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From the company’s website:

The “no necktie” tradition was started one night when a Phoenix executive came in for dinner. The original owner, wanting to keep the atmosphere in his restaurant casual, told the executive, “Either you take that tie off, or I’ll cut it off.” The executive did not take heed and was appalled when the owner pulled out a butcher knife and promptly cut off the offending cravat.

We headed out around 7:00 p.m. in the ILX and took Loop 101, then Pima Rd, and then eastward on Happy Valley Road (had to put a smile on our faces as we rounded the corner).  It’s pretty easy to spot the location of Pinnacle Peak Patio at the intersection of Thompson Peak Rd & Alma School:  It feels like you’re back in the wild west.  Even the parking lot remains unpaved after all these years.

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Right at the entrance to the swinging wooden doors, a hand-painted sign gives a warning:  BEWARE:  WEAR TIES AT YOUR OWN RISK.  I wasn’t (that) afraid.  We were seated right away by the hostess in a back room and started admiring some of the artifacts on the walls:  Rodeo trophies from years gone by, sheriff badge collections in display cases, wall after wall covered with license plates, and oh — the severed ties:  hundreds and hundreds of neckties of every size and color were stapled to the wooden rafters above us.  Most of them had small yellow tags on them indicating the wearer and the date it was collected.

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Our server, Tanner, recommended the “Wrangler” 10 oz. Top Sirloin for $17.95 and that’s the selection I went with.  It was absolutely one of the juiciest steaks I’ve ever eaten.  It came with homemade wheat bread, a side salad, and a baked potato which I paid a little extra for.  Meal quality = top tier.  Our meal was accompanied by a live musician in the other room, playing twangy honky-tonk country which was especially fitting for a venue of this type.

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It wasn’t until we were almost ready to get our checks that I realized the waitstaff hadn’t seemed to take note that I was wearing a tie.  Tanner came over to see how things were going and I replied, taking a tug at my collar and loosening the tie a notch, “It’s a little warm in here, to be honest.”  “Ohhh!” he exclaimed, and he scampered off to get his pair of scissors.  “I didn’t even realize you had that on!”  So, in a ceremonial ritual as I’m sure has taken place thousands of times before, Tanner took the clippers to my silk blue tie and sliced it in two.

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It’s too bad that places like PPP are a dying breed these days.  I really enjoyed the vibe of eating at a non-chain place that teleports you away from the hustle and bustle of 2015 and feels more like 1985.  The last thing you see as you depart the restaurant is the phrase “Y’all come back now, ya hear?” painted on the backside of courtyard entrance sign.  Well, Pinnacle Peak Patio, unfortunately I won’t be going back.  You won’t be there.

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Thanks for joining on this Thursday night adventure!

And thanks to Kevin and James for being good sports and giving this place a whirl with me.

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Happy Valley Road eastbound

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Entering the restaurant courtyard from the parking lot

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Checking in at the front desk.  There’s a gift shop area and a mechanical riding horse for kids.

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If you’re local to Phoenix and you get this message in the next 48 hours before it shuts down permanently, go check this place out!

“Bill Johnson’s Big Apple” Restaurant – Final Visit

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants on May 25, 2015 by tysonhugie

Busy holiday weekend, travels underway, and you’ll read more about them soon!

But here’s a quick story about a short breakfast meet-up on Saturday morning that might be of interest.

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It’s the end of an era:  This little neon sign in the front window of a landmark Phoenix restaurant has been turned off for the last time as of yesterday.  After 59 years, one of the only remaining “original” businesses from historic Van Buren Street has shuttered its windows and will be paved over to make way for a parking lot for the nearby community college.

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You may recall my restaurant write-up about Bill Johnson’s from last year.  At that time, I noticed just how quiet the place was, customer-wise.  It’s no wonder that with decreased traffic and increased expenses, general manager Randi Beswick said they just couldn’t hang on any longer.  It’s sad that the dining tastes of Phoenix residents have shifted away from such a historic and unique place.

Since the final closure date was announced last week, people started coming out in droves to support the restaurant.  Upwards of 3,000 visitors per day were willing to wait up to 2 hours for a table so they could enjoy some of Bill Johnson’s BBQ for the last time before the restaurant closed on Sunday.  Here were some of the headlines in the news:

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The Bill Johnson’s sign has been impossible to miss for nearly 6 decades on the south side of Van Buren at 38th Street.

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The building itself embraces the Wild West theme with its cows perched at each end of the rooftop.

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On Saturday morning bright and early, I met up with 3 friends to sample the breakfast fare.  The restaurant had opened at 6:00 a.m. and I arrived around 6:15.  I was able to get seated right away, but there was a steady stream of incoming customers and it wasn’t long until they started having to wait to be seated.  Devan, Kevin, and James joined me.  Our waittress, Bonnie, told us that she’d worked an 18-hour day the day prior.

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This is a letter posted at the entrance to the restaurant.

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Menu.  I went with the Bill’s Breakfast Omelette.

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It didn’t look like much but it was tasty as can be, and it came with a side of wheat toast.

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Afterward, it seemed only fitting that we grab a picture of Devan’s silver Acura TL and my Acura ILX with the sign out front.

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Thanks for coming along to enjoy some tasty grub with us.