Dishing Out Local Love: Carly's Bistro
According to Local First Arizona, a nonprofit organization that celebrates independent businesses throughout Arizona, downtown businesses have seen anywhere from an 80 to 100 percent decrease in profits over the last few months. Recognizing the need, Suns Charities huddled up with Local First and Devin Booker and committed to supporting downtown Phoenix-area restaurants and food vendors with $100,000 in funding that will go towards helping feed the hungry in our community. As part of the Suns’ Small Business Assist program, Carly’s Bistro has received $5,000 that will underwrite meals for those in need.
To spotlight the participating businesses, we connected with Carly’s Bistro Founder Carla Wade Logan, who shared more about the local restaurant, the partnership with the Phoenix Suns and giving back to the community.
Carly’s Bistro (128 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85004) recently provided meals for A New Leaf, a local nonprofit that provides those in need with essential services including emergency shelter, affordable housing solutions, youth services, foster care, counseling, financial literacy education, neighborhood economic development, workforce support and community services.
Can you provide a little history of Carly’s Bistro?
We just celebrated our fifteenth anniversary this past April, but my husband John and I started the restaurant in 2005. We were both very passionate about the arts and we just thought the Roosevelt Row area was such a great neighborhood and community so we rented a little spot here on the corner Roosevelt and Second Street and we had a passion to provide good food, drinks and a community gathering space that also serves as an art gallery and venue.
What drives the passion behind the menu at Carly’s Bistro?
We wanted to offer casual eats that are quality and available at any time for the urban dweller. We do a lot of Mediterranean influenced paninis, salads, subs, flatbread pizzas, hummus and a lot more.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Downtown Phoenix culture?
We love it! We’re big believers in sustainability and we support the redevelopment of downtown and building in and up rather than out. We’re really excited to see the changes that have happened in our community in the last 15 years from light rail, more urban eateries, bike paths etc. It’s been amazing to see. It’s also been great to partner with the Suns and feature the mural on the side of our restaurant. People love it and thousands of people come by every year to snap a photo in front of it. I also want to shout out the local artists who make the community what it is, with the shutdowns a lot of them have had their gigs and shows canceled so we want to keep them in our thoughts and support where we can.
How important is giving back to the community to Carly’s Bistro and what does it mean to you to team up with the Phoenix Suns?
We are excited about this opportunity with this grant to be able to help the folks at A New Leaf. It’s amazing that the Suns are helping small businesses serve the community and funding these programs. It comes at a critical time for small restaurants and our city after mandated closures to help fight COVID-19.
What are your current restaurant capabilities and what are some current offerings you would like to highlight?
We recently opened for dine-in and started with just patio dining so everything can be spread out accordingly. We’re encouraging and will continue to offer takeout and have begun to reopen our dining room but at a very limited capacity, about 30 percent of our full availability. In terms of offerings, we have daily specials that we post on our Instagram and during the shutdown what really got popular was our to-go margaritas made fresh in-house and is still available to-go. Our spring bowl, buffalo chicken salad and prosciutto panini have been super popular lately as well.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
It’s hugely important, our community is really close, especially the restaurant and bar community around here. We’ve known a lot of the local businesses for several years, some for more than a decade and we’re all trying to help and support each other as regularly as we can. If we can help each other through social media, grants and encouraging people to support local at least once a week.
How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your business model?
We accepted and understood why businesses needed to close to combat COVID-19, it was hard on us because the spring season is when we typically boom with concerts, sporting events, food and art festivals etc. so it has really been a challenge to fill the gap moving into summer. We’ve been doing a lot of online delivery and takeout orders which has been great, people have been very supportive of that platform and I think that will stay. We’ll continue to grow that model since the industry was leaning that way anyway.
What is it going to take for small businesses to survive this difficult time?
I think people that have the ability should continue to support local and realize how impactful spending on small businesses can be. Additionally, our government on the local and federal level needs to understand the challenges that are unique to restaurants and hospitality. Our industry was one of the ones hardest hit by the shutdowns, especially with how slim our margins can be. Hopefully, they will continue to work with small business leaders to find ways to fill the gap. One of the biggest challenges we are facing in our area is high rent and there may need to be some renegotiations here soon.
To support this local business and browse Carly’s Bistro’s menu and latest specials, visit CarlysBistro.com or follow Chris on Instagram at @Carlys_Bistro. Be on the lookout for more local restaurant profiles from the Phoenix Suns as we continue to partner with Local First.