By Teri Carnicelli
The building that formerly housed Corbin’s Bar & Grill at 8729 N. Central Ave. is getting a new tenant, new look—and, if all goes well, a significant amount of new parking.
Business partners Tucker Woodbury and Jim Riley, best known for the restaurants The Vig and The Vig-Uptown, are going in a slightly different direction with their new concept, Ladera, which will feature Mexico City-style food with a coastal flair (meaning a good seafood selection).
“We do upscale neighborhood taverns that are affordable and approachable,” Woodbury said at a community information meeting on June 16. “Ladera will be similar, but with a Mexican concept.”
Woodbury said he was aware of the large number of Mexican restaurants in the Sunnyslope community, but pointed out the look, feel and menu will be noticeably different. “Our chef, Jorge Gomez, trained in Mexico City but hasn’t had the opportunity to celebrate those culinary skills and roots. We wanted to help him with that,” Woodbury explained.
Woodbury added that he and his partner didn’t want to “cannibalize on our own clientele by opening another Vig so close by.”
Parking has ever been an issue for businesses that front Central Avenue north of Northern, and Corbin’s was no exception, with cars lined along Alice Avenue on busy weekend nights. Woodbury and Riley’s solution to the problem has been to lease a 1-acre vacant lot to the east and convert it into an 80-plus space lot, complete with landscape buffer along the perimeters. The lot currently is zoned for R-5, multifamily residential. But the old, derelict apartments that once stood there were torn down decades ago, and the lot has sat mostly vacant since 1986.
The partners did try to enter into a long-term lease with the property owner directly east of the restaurant, but couldn’t reach an acceptable agreement. So they chose the next lot over, which is larger, but also further away. Still, it falls within the city’s zoning requirement of needing to be within 300 feet of the subject property it is serving. And with more than 80 spaces planned, it more than meets the parking requirement for the restaurant use.
In order to change the zoning from R-5 to P-1 (parking lot), Woodbury and Riley will first have to go before the North Mountain Village Planning Committee, the Phoenix Planning Commission, and ultimately the Phoenix City Council for approval. But they and their attorney, Michael Curley of Earl, Curley & Lagarde, P.C., don’t anticipate any issues. No dates have been set as yet.
The building itself will be given a new façade, new landscaping, and a large new patio that will extend out to the sidewalk along Central, with a landscape buffer in between. Plans are to have Ladera open for business in spring 2016—about two years from the time Corbin’s closed its doors.
Kevin and Kelley McNeill, with partner Gary Mannisto, opened Corbin’s Bar & Grill in April 2005. On May 22, 2014, the Corbin’s Facebook page noted that, “Due to circumstances beyond our immediate control we are unable to continue funding daily operations here.” Corbin’s permanently shut its doors on May 31.