How women are shaping the future of Roosevelt Row — and always have been

(Original Article  – Sourced by AZCentral) , Arizona RepublicPublished 5:00 a.m. MT March 4, 2019
Image via AZCentral 

This year, several women will open restaurants, breweries and coffee shops on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix.
They continue a legacy of female entrepreneurship as old as the arts district itself.

 

On a cool January afternoon, Megan Greenwood parks her pickup truck in a dirt lot on the outskirts of downtown Phoenix. A dozen metal kegs crowd the bed as she steps out of the cab with two large rolled-up papers in hand.

When she unfurls them, you get a glimpse into the future.

The glossy renderings reveal plans for Greenwood Brewing, coming to Roosevelt and Fifth streets. By August, Greenwood hopes to turn a tiny lot and adjacent building into a sleek brewery and tasting room complete with a tree-shaded green space and large patio.

Located in the heart of the Roosevelt Row arts district, the white building that houses Eye Lounge gallery is connected to Made art boutique. The plans show Eye Lounge’s familiar sign will remain in place under the building’s roofline. But where a dirt lot gives way to an unkempt alley just west of the art space, Greenwood hopes to build her business a home.

“I’m excited for downtown Phoenix and Roosevelt Row to be our home base,” she says. “I just fell in love with the area.”

In the coming months, Roosevelt Row will not only see an influx of new businesses, but, in particular, a handful of new dining and drinking hot spots owned by women. In addition to Greenwood’s brewery, Grace Unger and Allison DeVane also will open businesses. It’s fitting, considering the neighborhood has a legacy of female entrepreneurship that stretches back decades.

“It’s exciting to be a part of their vision,” Greenwood says. “I think there’s big shoes to fill. There’s a lot of successful women on Roosevelt Row and I’m lucky to be mentored by them.”

‘It didn’t matter if we were women or not’

Cindy Dach has been a pillar of the Roosevelt Row community for decades. In 2000, she and her husband, Greg Esser, purchased the building where Greenwood will now build her brewery and tasting room. She’ll lease the space to the brewer.

Dach’s Made art boutique and the Eye Lounge, which she co-founded, aren’t going anywhere. But each gives up some square footage to make room for the brewery.

Dach also co-owns Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe and Phoenix and is a co-founder of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corp. The organization works to preserve the arts and small businesses in the area, which runs from Interstate 10 to Fillmore Street and from Seventh Avenue to 16th Street.

Dach and her husband had received multiple offers to sell the building over the years, but nothing felt right for the space until she met Greenwood.

“We love her mission of opening the craft-beer market to women,” Dach says. “It appeals to me in a funny way. In the children’s book industry, they always say to design for boys because girls will read anything. It’s kind of like she’s doing that for beer: designing for women because boys will drink anything.”

Dach opened Made in 2005 and says Roosevelt Row has always been friendly to women business owners, in part because if its “indie” attitude.

“It didn’t matter if we were women or not, if we could pay the rent,” she says.

She wasn’t the only woman to choose this neighborhood to put down roots. A number of other women helped drive in the neighborhood’s development from a collection of empty lots and neglected buildings into a thriving destination for locals and tourists alike.

Kimber Lanning, founder of Local First Arizona and Local First Arizona Foundation, also owns property on Roosevelt Row and has been instrumental in preserving its nature as an artist-friendly area.

Across the street, Carla Logan and her husband own Carly’s Bistro, a restaurant and bar she opened at Roosevelt and Second streets in 2005.

Logan says the area always has been welcoming of new business in general, though she did encounter some who didn’t see her as a likely business owner in the early years of Carly’s Bistro. In particular, she remembers a salesperson who asked to speak to the owner, assuming the owner was a man.

“I kept saying ‘he’s not here’ because he was a she,” she recalls. “This went on for months until a customer finally said, ‘that’s her.’ “

Logan, Lanning and Dash aren’t alone. Several other established Roosevelt Row dining and drinking spots are owned by women.

  • Stephanie Vasquez purchased Fair Trade Cafe in 2006 and has been a vocal activist in the downtown community ever since.
  • Danielle Leoni opened The Breadfruit and Rum Bar with her partner, Dwayne Allen, in 2008. As executive chef and co-owner, she has used the platform to become a leader in sustainable restaurant practices.
  • Erin Westgate has owned Songbird Coffee and Teahouse since 2012.
  • Lori Hassler and her husband, Eric, in February opened a restaurant in the historic Farish House on Third and Garfield streets.

How Greenwood Brewing got started

Even before becoming a full-time brewer, Greenwood was defying stereotypes as an industrial engineer. Her work in the solar industry brought her to the Valley from Iowa. She bought a house in Chandler and when a friend gave her a home-brewing kit, she began her unexpected love affair with craft beer.

Within a year, she had designed and built an all-electric brewing system in her garage. She kept eight homemade beers on tap at all times.

“I had a lot of friends then,” she jokes.

But Greenwood quickly realized she was becoming a part of an industry that didn’t see her as a target customer.

“I was brewing and I was learning all about beer, but I still felt really intimidated walking into a craft-beer bar,” she remembers. “I was like, well, I bet a lot of women feel like this. I was looking for a product for me, designed with me in mind, and I couldn’t find it.”

So she decided to create it.

Greenwood describes her beers as “female-focused.” But don’t let that fool you into thinking she’s making light, fruity brews. Her signature beer, Herstory, is a crisp pale ale the color of caramel.

For over a year, she has been contract brewing Herstory and two other beers at a brewery in the West Valley. She already distributes them to more than 50 locations in Phoenix, Tucson and Prescott, including Mountain Shadows resort; Pita Jungle; Sip Coffee and Beer Garage; and The Whining Pig.

It’s been two years since she sold her home in Chandler and moved downtown. Now, she lives within walking distance from her business. She was drawn to the area, and specifically to Roosevelt Row, after falling in love with the neighborhood’s art-focused vibe and high energy during events like First Friday art walks, when thousands of people crowd the streets.

Through a Kickstarter campaign, Greenwood raised nearly $70,000 to buy brewing equipment for Greenwood Brewing. That gives her confidence the market is there for her to open the brick-and-mortar location.

“Overall people have been welcoming us with open arms,” she says. “I believe in downtown. I believe in Roosevelt Row. I want to make this a project that brings people to downtown but also livens up Fifth Street.”

Inside a burgeoning dining empire

A five-minute walk from the future Greenwood Brewing site, another of the Valley’s emerging female food and beverage entrepreneurs will open three new concepts.

Grace Unger currently owns Tuck Shop in the nearby Coronado neighborhood. By the end of the year, she hopes to open three businesses in the Roosevelt Row neighborhood:

  • Josephine, a modern French restaurant.
  • Coup de Grâce, a cocktail bar.
  • Petit Jo, a coffee shop, bakery and market.

To do so, she has partnered with True North Studios, a local development company with an office in the arts district. The company’s projects include RO2, an ambitious development that will bring Unger’s three planned restaurants, plus two hotels, residential and office space and retail to Roosevelt Row.

“I don’t know if I would have stayed in Phoenix if it weren’t for Roosevelt Row,” she says, noting how hard it is to find a neighborhood with such a strong sense of community.

“Somewhere along the line, that sense of community came to a halt. Now, you’re seeing it downtown and in the historic neighborhoods. It’s unique to the arts district and to downtown. You see these people who want to know each other.”

 

Teaspressa returns to its roots

The neighborhood vibe also drew Allison DeVane to expand her business’ footprint in the arts district.

Or rather, back to the arts district.

DeVane started her beverage company, Teaspressa, in 2015 with a “$25 laundry cart and a tablecloth from T.J. Maxx.” In the four years since, she has opened four Teaspressa locations in Arizona and Michigan and has seen her products on the shelves of national retailers such as Anthropologie, Neiman Marcus and Francesca’s.

She got her start, however, inside the DeSoto Central Market. The now-closed food hall — a future nightlife and bar concept — sits on the high-profile corner of Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street.

When DeSoto opened in 2015, DeVane partnered with the owners on a concept called Tea & Toast, which served her tea-based beverages. DeVane says it was an opportunity to get proof of concept, to find out if there was, in fact, a market for lattes made with highly concentrated tea instead of espresso.

She left Tea & Toast in 2017 and DeSoto has since closed. But this spring, DeVane will open a second Valley location of Teaspressa about a quarter-mile away. The new shop will be on the ground floor of the Portland on the Park luxury condo building.

“I was looking for anything downtown,” DeVane says. “I really like the place we found. I love the lawn. It’s the best place to go dog-watching. It’s just like, you can’t beat this. My goal for that place is to make it an oasis.”

At 1,500 square feet, the Roosevelt Row location will be three times the size of the existing Teaspressa shop in the Arcadia neighborhood. It will serve the Instagram-able drinks for which the first location has become popular, but also have a commercial kitchen for baking delicate, flower-topped shortbread cookies and other treats.

It also will have a license to serve beer and wine. DeVane says the goal is to offer a Prosecco bar where customers can use Teaspressa’s flavor-infused sugar cubes to turn a glass of sparkling wine into an instant mimosa or Bellini.

“Plus, they turn your champagne pink,” she says with a smile.

With a pastel color scheme and walls designed to offer the perfect backdrop for selfies, DeVane acknowledges her customers are mostly women. In fact, she wanted her business to appeal to a feminine crowd.

“I always wanted to have a really female audience,” she says. “Because, if anything, the women are the ones that are the most influential in the household.”

“Plus, I am one.”