A butcher shop and sandwich place has moved into space once occupied by the Grand Canyon Cafe in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona.
“It is a much better location for us in terms of space,” said Flagstaff restaurateur Paul Moir. “We had outgrown the southside location quite a while ago and this is just over double the size. We have more kitchen space, storage space, retail and seating space. The location is a bit more iconic, being the former Grand Canyon Cafe.”
The increased kitchen and production area also means quicker service for sandwiches, which goes a long way during the noon rush, he says. And, meat-loving locals do not seem to be having any trouble finding the eatery since its Sept. 14 move.
The building’s iconic neon signs and lighting will remain — at least for now.
Moir had completely renovated the space a year ago with the intention of updating, yet maintaining the landmark Grand Canyon Café with signature dishes that had been served by the Wong family since the 1940s. For now, the neon signs remain out front as a nostalgic nod to the building’s historic past.
“After discussions with The Arizona Vintage Sign Coalition and our landlord, we have, at least at the moment, decided to leave them intact and in place. We feel they are a part of Flagstaff and Route 66 history and that is something that is important to us.”
Moir was among five local investors bought the restaurant in 2016 from the Wong family, who’d operated it for decades. The restaurant closed for more-extensive-than-expected renovations and reopened in June 2017. The Grand Canyon Cafe marked its 75th anniversary that year.
The new owners kept some menu favorites, such as the chicken fried steak and Chinese food. They kept the neon signs, restored the jukebox, re-upholstered the booths and made the restaurant comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Grand Canyon Cafe closed in May less than a year after those renovations.
(Image of the Grand Canyon Cafe’s neon lighting in 2012 by BriYYZ via Flickr)