Tiffanni Stensland, Billy Godwin, Sara Danieu and Mike Nunez have been working on the restaurant's relaunch. Photo by Kyle Norby

Sunrise Café, the popular restaurant whose closing at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic became permanent, is being resurrected by a new owner with a new vision.

A message on Sunrise Cafe’s closing by its previous owners.

Billy Godwin, a Maricopa resident who runs a local handyman service, decided to take a dive into the restaurant business, plunking down $90,000 for the location.

Many Maricopans were surprised when the restaurant went up for sale. While the food was “hit and miss,” Godwin said he saw potential in Sunrise Café with its good bones.

“Everything kind of just fell in place. The right deck of cards, so to speak,” Godwin explained. “I’m a foodie. I love food, always have.”

Godwin’s fiancée, Sarah Danieu, was a server at Sunrise Café when it was on its last legs. She has been an integral part of spreading word of the restaurant’s rebirth through social media and community interaction.

“We’ve been asking questions like ‘what’s your go-to food?’ or ‘what kind of foods do you like?’ Godwin said. “Just really getting that hometown feel because we want the community involved.”

The new Sunrise team includes Godwin’s sister Tiffanni, who has handled much of the logistics of the new restaurant, while Godwin and employee Mike Nunez have worked steadily in recent weeks to renovate the space to accommodate more TV sets, make bar improvements, add seating and remove walls.

Spending much of his life in Washington State, Godwin said the restaurant will retain the Sunrise Café name, but a new logo design pulls its inspiration from the city of Seattle and is Seahawks football team.

Logo provided by Billy Godwin

Godwin said being able to renovate the space has saved a substantial amount of money in the early stages of business. Nunez has loved helping make the improvements so far.

I also work as a server, but I get to see (the job) from a completely different perspective,” he said. “It’s definitely been a once in a lifetime experience.”

“We’ve had a fantastic community response,” Godwin added. “I know a lot of people in the area so being well-rounded has really helped our community presence.”

Some changes are on the menu, including more diverse offerings with keto, vegetarian, and vegan options. A self-professed picky eater, Godwin believes people work hard for their money and deserve to get exactly what they want, without compromise.

The bar area of the cafe will be fitted with numerous TVs for football Sundays.

“Across the board, we’re definitely going to provide the best experience that we possibly can from food quality, consistency, flavor, right down to our servers,” Godwin said. “The transition of what was here before to what it will be is changing for the better.”

The renovations continue at the new Sunrise Cafe. Photo by Billy Godwin