PHOENIX - A redevelopment project is forcing Hula's Modern Tiki to relocate its flagship restaurant in Phoenix.
Owner M. Dana Mule opened the island-themed restaurant and bar off Central Avenue in 2009. Since then, it has become a Valley favorite known for its tiki drinks and outdoor patio.
Mule said the landowners terminated the restaurant's lease last year with plans to redevelop the land.
"I immediately started to look for a new spot," he told ABC15 on Wednesday, admitting that it took some time and involved a bit of heartbreak knowing his original restaurant would have to close.
A search on the Maricopa County Assessor's Office website shows the land is owned by Davis Enterprises. ABC15 reached out to learn more about the redevelopment plans, but a voicemail and emails went unanswered.
Still, Mule is clear: Hula's is not leaving Phoenix; it is just moving a couple streets over.
The restaurant is remodeling the space formerly occupied by Ticoz Latin Kitchen near 7th Street and Camelback Road. Ticoz closed in July.
"The key for us was to stay in that neighborhood," Mule said.
"The last thing we wanted to do was move far away," he added, noting the loyal following the restaurant has formed over the years.
The revamped Hula's will have a more modern look than the original, but will still have its tiki charm.
It will have 4,100-square-feet of indoor and outdoor dining, an outdoor fireplace, a 40-seat private dining room called the "Tiki Room," and "The Captain's Cabin," an inconspicuous 28-seat bar designed after a 1950's Tahitian ship cabin.
Mule said "The Captain's Cabin" will showcase Hula's "Uku Nui" menu, a mix of premium tiki cocktails and rum flights. It will also serve as a waiting area on busy nights.
It will have an unmarked entrance off 7th Street.
The central Phoenix location will close in June. The new restaurant is expected to open sometime this summer, according to a news release.
Hula's restaurant in Scottsdale remains open and is not affected.