Ask anyone what restaurants to check out in Phoenix, and chances are there will be at least one concept from Sam Fox in the mix. Ask Sam Fox where to eat, and he’ll tell you about Craig DeMarco of Upward Projects.
Operators heading to Arizona for the Restaurant Leadership Conference next month have the opportunity to check out this emerging leader, and according to Fox, it’ll be worth the visit. “He’s created a series of engaging concepts that Phoenix diners really get behind,” says Fox. “He and his team have a solid understanding for the type of food people enjoy and the setting they like to experience it in.”
Here are DeMarco’s concepts to scour for ideas while you’re in town.
Upward’s first concept hit six locations, with another planned for this spring. Inspired by wine bars of small-town Italy, DeMarco set out to create that same environment in Phoenix, something that didn’t previously exist.
Playing to the clean-food trend, this dessert shop serves a rotational menu of all-natural ice creams made without any chemical additives, preservatives or stabilizers.
Upward Projects also created a cluster of restaurants to fill some niches missing from a stretch of Central Avenue: Federal Pizza, Joyride Taco House and gastropub Windsor.