Gallo Blanco, Welcome Diner opening in Phoenix

Posted at 11:57 AM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-02 14:57:53-04

Two new restaurants are coming to Phoenix’s Garfield district.

Chef Doug Robson, who owns Otro Café, revealed last week that he will be re-opening Gallo Blanco Cafe near 10th Street and Pierce.

The old “American Way Market” which was built in the 1920s will be renovated to house the Mexican eatery. 

He’s collaborated with Holly Street Studio architects to work on the renovation and to preserve the history of the building.

“The building is going to be simple. We’re not going for formal fine dining. We just want a cool laid back casual place to eat some good grub,” he said. The kitchen will be outside the restaurant. He's also leaving a mural that was painted on one side of the buildings.

Located directly across from Gallo Blanco, business partners Michael Babcock and Sloane McFarland, will open a second location of the Welcome Diner.

Babcock said the new location will be 2,600 square feet and will borrow a lot of the “design and energy” from its current location at 10th Street and Roosevelt. It will just be bigger.

“It’s going to be really cool,” said Babcock. “We’ve been working quietly on this for years. Dinermite and Christoph Kaiser, a local architect and Garfield resident, was brought on to handle the design.

Both Robson and Babcock said they did not intend to become restaurant neighbors, but that it just happened. Robson called it “serendipitous.”

Gallo Blanco closed in 2015 after parting ways with the Clarendon Hotel, the Phoenix New Times reported. Robson said he wanted to open his restaurant somewhere else, but had to grieve about the breakup first.

“I was hopeful that we’d find something afterward” he said, “[but] I kind of had to go through the heartbreak of it all. There was a lot of opportunities, but I really wanted to find a special place. The place in Garfield just seemed right.”

The renovation is still in its early phase, but Robson said they are hoping to open either later 2016 or early 2017.

He said guests can expect a lot of the same dishes from the original location, but are working to add some new items.

“Because we’re creative people, and we tend to want to be creative, we’re going to challenge ourselves with some new dishes and other new offerings,” he said.

The same goes for Welcome Diner.

“I think we’re all really excited to add more seasonality to the menu. I think we really want to do some of the classic hits that has more seasonal vegetable dishes, and some entrees. Kind of things like that. Small plates and entrees,” said Babcock.

He hopes to open late this year or early next year, as well. They are also opening a third location this summer down in Tucson. It will be housed in a historic building.

"The opportunity kind of landed in our laps randomly," he said. "We rolled the dice and decided to go for it."

Both restaurants posted the news on their Facebook pages and fans either talked about the menu or tagged their friends to spread the news.

“I’m super excited that people are pumped. We really loved what we do and where we do it at. We want to make our neighborhood proud,” said Babcock.

Robson said, “It’s amazing how much everybody has come out to support. I didn’t know there were that many people who wanted us to be back so it’s really exciting.”