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, CiBO has received $5,000 that will underwrite meals for those in need.
To spotlight the participating business, we connected with co-owner of CiBO, Michael Krassner who shared more about the local restaurant, the partnership with the Phoenix Suns and giving back to the community.
CiBO (603 N 5th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003) recently provided meals for Child Crisis Arizona, a local nonprofit that provides emergency shelter, foster care, adoption, counseling, early education, and parenting support services to Arizona’s most vulnerable children and families. Its mission is to provide children and youth in Arizona a safe environment, free from abuse and neglect, by creating strong and successful families.
Can you provide a little history of CiBO?
We first opened in 2005 and this month we are celebrating our 15year anniversary of being in Downtown Phoenix. The restaurant opened in partnership with my parents and I, and our chef Guido Saccone with the goal of opening an authentic, neighborhood restaurant in the same style that you would find in Naples, Italy and southern Italy. Through the years we’ve kept our sole location and have grown alongside the community over time. It’s been a wonderful experience for our restaurant to be so entrenched with the city.
What drives the passion behind CiBO?
The heart and soul of the menu are really from Guido Saccone. He is the engine that makes the restaurant run. If you’re ever fortunate enough to travel to Italy, specifically the southern part of the country, that is what we try to emulate. We aim to share that ethos, the authentic culture of the food from Italy and get as close as we possibly could get without visiting the country. It’s not just the food, but also the culture we try to replicate a homestyle, small staff restaurant and creating a meal to share with others. Italian food isn’t very complex, it has beautiful simplicity and we strive to share the same quality and simplicity with our menu. It sounds cliché, but its also about the love we put into our food that makes the difference.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Downtown Phoenix culture?
It’s been amazing, when we opened 15 years ago, Phoenix didn’t have much going on downtown. The whole neighborhood around the restaurant was mostly surrounded by chain-linked fence and abandoned, no one lived nearby for several blocks. Flash forward to now, it has been truly wonderful to see the development of our neighborhood and the entire city of Phoenix. Now with all the apartment buildings being built, more people moving into the city and addition of all the local businesses and music venues nearby, we’re looking forward to the continued growth of the city in a positive direction. We’ve been able to witness the city blossom first-hand and just recently, a new apartment complex begun right across from the restaurant. The developers visit us often and say that if it wasn’t for our restaurant and the developing area, they wouldn’t have considering building where they are. It’s cool to think one little restaurant is part of the continued growth of Phoenix.
How important is giving back to the community to CiBO and what does it mean to you to team up with the Phoenix Suns?
As a local restaurant, we’re rooted in the community by nature and we’re constantly finding ways to help as much as we can in little or big ways. The Suns are one of the cornerstones of the community and it was a great stroke of genius from the Suns to recognize the needs in the community: people who need to eat, people out of work, restaurants going under, and for them to step in and help means a lot. The $5,000 grant is huge and the fact we get to pay it forward to provide meals for our community was a brilliant idea and a big help.
What are your current capabilities and what are some current offerings you would like to highlight?
We’re open for dine in lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. by reservation only from our website and will continue to offer takeout and delivery through Postmates. For dine-in, we’re operating at a reduced capacity with only about half of our outdoor patio available that has shaded misters and lighting at night so even during the summer it is still nice to sit outside. We’ll keep an eye on the latest updates from the pandemic and hopefully we can open up a little more and we look forward to that day and welcoming more people to CiBO.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
It’s essential, LocalFirst has lots of information and stats on how impactful spending locally and at small businesses. Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional trip to In & Out Burger, but it’s important to try your best to spend as much as you can locally and have that money stay in the state. It’s the foundation of Arizona’s economy and Phoenix’s identity was established and can only grow if people continue to support local small business.
How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your business model?
For the first 10-11 weeks we switched to takeout only model and partnered with Postmates for delivery. Currently, we are open for dine-in on a limited basis with just 50 percent of the outdoor patio open and we will continue to evaluate the situation to see when we can open our dining room. For the past 15 years we’ve always been walk-in only, but now to closely monitor our occupancy we’ve started implementing reservation-only for dinner.
What is it going to take for small businesses to survive this difficult time?
I think there needs to be help from various levels of the government for small businesses to endure everything going on. The recent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan rolled out is helpful and very beneficial for us and I would love to see an opportunity for another round of these loans for businesses who need them. While we lost our revenue from the spring, the PPP loan will help us get through the summer and hopefully things stabilize later this year and our chances of surviving this time will be pretty good.
To learn more about CiBO and check out their menu, visit CiBOPhoenix.com or follow them on Instagram at @CiBOPizzeria . Be on the lookout for more local restaurant profiles from the Phoenix Suns as we continue to partner with Local First.