’22 in review: For many restaurants trying to open, delay is on the menu

Plans to open a Chili's Grill and Bar in Maricopa have been abandoned. [file]

Several new food outlets (coffee, cookies and sandwiches) opened in 2022, but the real news was the progress — or lack of it — by several anticipated food joints and sit-down restaurants due to construction challenged by continuing supply-chain delays, rising construction costs and workforce shortages. Here’s a rundown of the new openings and what appears to be coming this year — or later:

rumbl Cookies, 20320 N. John Wayne Pkwy., Suite 105, opened in late July. With a rotating menu, the shop serves up fresh varieties like Molten Lava (dark-chocolate cookie with hot fudge and powdered sugar) and the Classic Pink Sugar (vanilla sugar cookie with pink almond frosting). Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to midnight.

Jimmy Johns, 20320 N. John Wayne Pkwy., Suite 110, opened in the Sonoran Creek Marketplace. The national sandwich giant serves up fresh sandwiches in a variety of sizes. Favorites include the Spicy East Coast Italian (double salami, double capocollo, cheese, hot peppers, onion, oil and vinegar, and oregano-basil) and the Beach Club (turkey, double cheese, avocado spread and cucumber). Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Neaux Coffee Company, 19428 N. Taft Ave., welcomed an early-morning crowd for the first time in August. The shop is a dream come true for owner and entrepreneur, Brooke Molyneaux, 23, a three-year graduate of Maricopa High who earned an Organizational Leadership degree from ASU in just five semesters. Pouring her savings from jobs at Starbucks and other places into construction of the shop, she was assisted by her family. The menu offers a wide selection of coffees, flavored lemonades and Italian sodas, pastries of locally sourced ingredients and avocado toast. Hours: 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Almost ready to go
Dell’s Pizza
, a Casa Grande institution for 58 years, will open a scaled-back shop in the city. The mostly take-out operation in the Maricopa Town Plaza will share a building with Rili B’s Taco Shop. It will serve pizza and wings. Plans are for an early 2023 opening. The Maricopa shop will be the first Dell’s outside Casa Grande and have separate ownership.

Under construction
Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers is among the most widely anticipated joints coming to town. The upscale burger place from the Valley has seen many delays, but the wait is nearly over. With construction continuing next to Sprouts in the Sonoran Creek Marketplace, the 5,475-square-foot sit-down restaurant known for its gourmet burgers is shooting for a late March opening. It will have a large outdoor patio for about 100 patrons. More than 150 beers will be available at the chain’s largest bar in Arizona. Management expects to hire 60 to 70 full-time and part-time employees early this year.

Carniceria Sonora, the Mexican butcher shop and grocery store moving into the former Good2Go gas station/market on North Maricopa Road, looks to be opening very soon, as well. Management interviewed prospective employees in November. The owners, D&N Financial, were renovating the building’s interior for dry goods resale and a small take-out restaurant shop. It will feature a meat-carving area. The provisioner, which is known for its marinades and authentic salsas, tortillas and guacamole, operates other locations in the Valley.

Nando’s Mexican Café, a Southeast Valley mainstay for nearly 20 years, is under construction at Edison Pointe. Co-owner Tim Shaughnessy said in June he hoped to be ready to open in the first quarter of 2023. The nearly 5,000-square-foot restaurant and bar will have a 900-square-foot patio that can seat 60 diners. About 50 non-management employees will be hired, about half of those full-time. The chain is known for its Sonoran-style Mexican cuisine — enchiladas, tacos, burritos — and will offer a daily happy hour during the week and a popular weekend brunch menu.

BoSa Donuts, an Arizona favorite, is hoping to open in the first quarter at The Wells. The 1,800-square-foot shop in a multi-tenant center just south of Bahama Buck’s at Porter Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway is under construction. It will have a drive-through lane. The eatery will offer a wide selection of raised, brown cake and devil’s food cake doughnuts, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, coffees and fruit smoothies, and hot cocoa for the kids. Hours likely will be 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. at opening, though it could go 24 hours if the location proves to be busy.

Filibertos, the Mesa-based Mexican chain, has a location picked out in Sonoran Creek Marketplace, in the westernmost unit in the building that houses MOD Pizza. It will have a drive-through. The stores typically are open 24 hours a day and serve a menu of traditional Mexican favorites, including meat and fish tacos, enchiladas, burritos and chimichangas.

Thai Chili 2 Go, the fast-casual Thai food chain with 13 outlets across the Valley, is also coming to Sonoran Creek. Its menu features authentic Thai dumplings, veggie spring rolls, gai tod (chicken bites), and a variety of curries, rice and noodles.

Long term
Chili’s is out. For now. It announced that it has abandoned plans to open a restaurant at The Wells. The American casual-dining restaurant chain had hoped to begin construction in November, but that was pushed back. In June, a representative for operator Brinker International told InMaricopa it would be about 18 months — or about the end of 2023 — before it could open. A 5,177-square-foot restaurant, significantly larger than its typical footprint, was proposed for the northeastern corner of Stonegate Road and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, just west of Jiffy Lube. The eatery was expected to employ as many as 30 people. Is it gone for good? Some insiders believe the chain is only rattling its negotiating sword. Time will tell.

Cocina Madrigal, the sit-down Mexican restaurant coming south from south Phoenix, is generating the most buzz. It was ranked No. 1 on Yelp’s 2022 list of the Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S., up from fifth in 2021. It also is No. 1 on Trip Advisor’s list of Best Mexican Restaurants in Phoenix (with 85% of reviewers giving five stars). The menu includes Oaxaca Fundido, chicken tortilla soup, chocolate chipotle pie and a selection of salads, enchiladas, tacos and burgers. In June, the city opened its arms to the popular eatery by rezoning its half-acre site to permit a restaurant. When owner Leo Madrigal announced the location in November 2021, he said he expected construction activity within 12-18 months, but the project is still not listed on the city’s development website.

Slim Chickens, a fast-food restaurant franchise owner Tom Barnett compares to Chick-Fil-A, was hoping to break ground in the first quarter of 2023, but construction and staffing issues forced another delay. The eatery, among several (eventually) coming to The Wells
off Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, will be between McDonald’s and
Big 5 Sporting Goods. It is not known when construction will commence.
eegees, the purveyor of frozen smoothies, started with a single truck driving around Tucson neighborhoods in 1971. In the decades since, it has opened 30 stores in the state, with one on the way to Maricopa. The chain announced in December it will build a 2,300-square-foot shop with indoor seating and drive-through in Edison Place, near the Sherwin Williams paint store. Its specialty is the eponymous fresh-fruit frozen treat available in lemon, strawberry, piña colada, skinny berry and a flavor of the month. The menu also features hot and cold sub sandwiches, grinders, salads and fries. A timetable for opening is not yet available, but it is expected the shop will generate about 40 new jobs.
Burger King has been hit by the same issues as other projects. Barnett, also the franchisee for the BKs in town, in August put off the start of construction of the city’s second BK at The Wells. He had originally planned to break ground by the end of 2022 on the 3,183-square-foot restaurant with a drive-through.

Carl’s Jr. is making a Maricopa return. The burger franchise, which closed four years ago in the city, has plans for a 2,666-square-foot restaurant with drive-through on the east side of John Wayne Parkway between Iconic Tire and Maricopa Animal Hospital. The development is listed by the city as still in the planning phase.