Hot-dogs, Doughnuts, Beer, and Moore … Attracted by “Melrose” Families

 

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(Update 7/28: T.M.L. attended the grand opening at Short Leash Melrose. See more here.)

(Update 7/23: T.M.L. attended the last event at Short Leash downtown. See video here.

Let’s be frank about it: there’s a lot more to hot-dogs than meats the eye, and we know Phoenix foodies are fond of fine fare and fun fodder. So, where more apropos to mix up miscellaneous meats, pastries, and libations than that once again empty restaurant just north of the Melrose Arch? (You know, the one with those adorably auspicious doric columns out front.)

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Frmr. “Wineburger” at 4221 N. 7th Avenue. Soon to be: Short Leash Hot Dogs. (Credit Ray Heart)

For decades it was an Italian kitchen, then a toasted-cheese shop, and most recently the only place on the Melrose Mile you could catch a burger, a beer, and a ball game.

Now, one of the valley’s most dynamic delectable duos are proud to call it home.

Kat and Brad Moore of Roosevelt Row’s Short Leash Hot-Dogs are fired up to move to midtown, and eventually expand their one-of-all-kinds menu to 2 (two) locations.

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Short leash and partner Rollover Doughnuts will close up shop in Downtown Phoenix after they host a pun contest July 23rd, during their annual Wurst Festival Ever event.

A week later on July 28, they plan to host live music, appetizers, and drinks during a Grand Opening celebration in Melrose.

“Roosevelt has been really, really great,” Kat said. “Though, it’s getting (very) bar-centric, which is fun, but it’s not as family oriented as we are.”

Moore and her husband live within fetching distance of the new location, just south of Indian School Road.

“We’ve been actively looking for a good fit for us,” she said. “We really wanted to be on Seventh Avenue.” Moore said she loves serving the college and professional lunch crowds downtown, as well as those who come in for morning doughnuts, but she and Brad want to foster more of a family feeling in Melrose.

“Everyone that we know in this area has a family,” she said. “Gay, straight, black, white, or whatever, they are all families.” 

Kat was an interior designer and her husband a banker before the Great Recession.

In 2010, they bought they’re first of three food trucks, what Kat said was also the first “gourmet” food truck on wheels in Phoenix.

She and Brad helped to create a coalition of mobile vendors to lobby municipalities to improve food licensing.

They moved into the brick-and-mortar space on Roosevelt Street in 2015, where they continued to host events.

They also created a mobile vendor catering company, Best in Show, which coordinates food trucks to serve corporate and community gatherings.

They provide all the food for K.J.Z.Z.’s “Soundbite” mobile radio studio.

The point is, Kat and Brad have sniffed out an opportunity for more food and fun in one of the most unique parts of the valley, Melrose.

Moore said she enjoyed her relationship with her downtown landlords, but is concerned about the encroachment of corporate chains like Starbucks.

“(Roosevelt) is great because things are happening,” Kat said. “But, it’s getting big, and it’s getting competitive.”

She also said she is excited to see a lot of new retail space in the bottom of new apartment buildings, but isn’t sure how it will affect Roosevelt character.

“People like competition,” she clarified. “What they don’t like is saturation.”

Food trucks aren’t uncommon downtown, for now, as there are still many open lots.

Nor are they a strange sight at events in the Melrose District.

The Soundbite trailer has been a regular participant in various Melrose events for over a few years.

“The thing with Melrose is that it’s a little older,” Kat said. “It’s surrounded by houses and I think there’s a little more protection here.”

Moore said she’s excited about the Melrose building, which she said has a bigger kitchen that will help with both doughnut preparation and stocking the food trucks.

“It’s perfect for us,” she said.

The Original Wineburger shut down its grill at 4221 N. 7th Ave. in May after less than a year.

“It’s sad when anyone goes out of business,” Kat said of the previous tenant. “It makes my heart hurt because Brad and I know what you put into a restaurant.”

The hamburger/wine bar was a popular hang-out for half-a-century at 19th Ave. and Bethany Home Road before light-rail construction reduced access to their parking lot.

Though many loyal customers followed Wineburger to Seventh Ave., and their mid-century heritage fit right in, Melrose was not the success owners Kathleen and Lynn Courter hoped.

“I don’t get it, they’re not coming,” Courter said in a May ABC 15 interview. “The food’s the same; what’s different?”

Moore said the building’s history does not give her paws.

“Brad and I have a (very) good mojo,” she said with a hearty laugh. “We’ve already gone in and done our Feng Shui and given our blessing, I mean we’re (extremely) optimistic.”

As planned, Short Leash and Rollover will be be open seven-days-a-week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., except Sundays when they close at 3, after serving a brunch kids can eat for free. Vegetarians will be honored the following day on “Meatless Mondays.”

They will continue to serve various pun-themed platters, hand-made confections, locally pressed coffees, and plan to expand their craft whiskey and canned beer menus.

“Canned, craft beer has kinda become our thing,” Kat said. “We’re going to have over 80, and it’s not going to be the kind of stuff you can just find at the grocery store, hopefully.”

The duo plan to continue to host their annual Pinewood Derby each April – adults are allowed off their leashes later in the day – and will cook up something sweet on National Doughnut Day.

They will also host a Halloween costume contest for dogs.

Read more in an e-mail conversation with Kat:  

1) Kat, I forgot to ask you an obvious question: why a dog as a theme? (I’m looking for your explanation). We don’t have kids and our dogs have been a huge part of our life. We named the hotdog combination after dogs and just had fun with it and people started sending us pictures of their dogs. I used to do weekly feature and named it after customers dogs each time. I had to put it on hold for a while but we are thinking about bringing it back.  Our logo is a drawing I did of our dog Oliver who passed away last year. Our new puppy named Olive looks about the same. 
2) Do you only use local ingredients? We source and make as much as possible locally. We have a strong community connection and this is important to us. Our pickle and Sauerkraut guy lives in our neighborhood (Mrs Kliens Pickles). We used to only use Schreiners sausage but they stopped making hotdogs. The only product we could find that matched our criteria (natural, no antibiotic, gluten free, no nitrates) was Niman Ranch, not local but we like what they are doing, great people. We do as many local beers as we can but had to go regional – there are just too many great things out there for beer. We will have 2 local whiskeys – one from San Tan and one from Grand Canyon. 
3) Please confirm, you have 3 food trucks? They attend scheduled events, but do they also stake out locations as do other food trucks?
We have 3 trucks and are the sole food provider for Soundbite which we consider a 4th truck although the radio station owns it. I create, manage and plan food truck events through my event company, Best In Show. We primarily do catered events but we do some of my rotations  that I manage as well. I book over 150 other trucks throughout the valley for the events we manage as well as for the M7 Street Fair. We convinced the board to switch to food trucks 5 years ago and I have been booking the event ever since.