Partners Ken Schnitzer, front, and Jerry Mansoor, enjoy the ambiance of the newly opened Orchard Tavern (photo by Darryl Webb, special for North Central News).

Things are growing at The Orchard, 12th Street north of Glendale Avenue.

The popular neighborhood spot originally included Luci’s Marketplace, Splurge Ice Cream and Candy, and Pomelo restaurant. They’re owned by Luci’s Urban Concepts, which also owns Luci’s Marketplace and The Other Bar, on the busy culinary corner of 12th Street and Bethany Home Road; Luci’s at The Grove in Scottsdale’s McCormick Ranch; and Luci’s Catering.

That’s a lot of Luci’s to keep track of. And now a new business – the new Orchard Tavern with a renovated bar and expanded patio dining – has opened at The Orchard, along with newly expanded space for Orchard Events & Catering.

Orchard Tavern is now open at The Orchard, a popular neighborhood spot owned by Luci’s Urban Concepts (photo by Darryl Webb, special for North Central News).

And if that’s not enough, Luci’s Urban Concepts owner Ken Schnitzer says a new speakeasy is in the works in the basement of the Orchard Tavern, expected to open this spring.

All the Luci’s operations feature the same vibe, what Schnitzer describes as “a neighborhood gathering place” where people can relax and enjoy good food, conversation and cocktails. They’re also family-friendly, with play spaces next to Luci’s at The Orchard.

It all started in 2009, with Luci’s Healthy Marketplace at 12th and Bethany, named for Luci Schnitzer, Ken’s wife and business partner. That has morphed into Luci’s Marketplace and The Other Bar, added about three years ago, when the marketplace was expanded.

In 2016, The Orchard opened on a former citrus orchard and 1920s homestead that included two houses and a grove of trees owned by the Wasser Family. The Orchard respects the site’s historic roots, maintaining the character of the original buildings.

While Pomelo, located in the century-old main house, was popular, the restaurant wasn’t quite the right fit, Schnitzer said. People thought Pomelo, named for the orchard’s citrus trees, was an Italian restaurant. “We served gourmet, brick-oven pizza and pasta, which further confused them,” he said. “Also, the perception was that it was ‘that expensive place next to Luci’s.’”

The original Orchard also included a tented outdoor dining and special events area, but the Orchard’s events and catering business was growing and needed more space. Also, Schnitzer wasn’t happy with the seating in the former living and dining rooms. “It wasn’t comfortable,” he said.

His solution? Divide and conquer, giving the former main Pomelo dining area over to events and catering, and creating a whole new concept in the other half of the building.

“I said, North Central Phoenix needs a traditional, cool tavern,” Schnitzer said.

The tavern renovation, which opened in December, is cozy and welcoming, with lush, high-backed booths, elevated on platforms and covered in warm, muted terra cotta tones. A massive brass chandelier dominates the room, and an open fireplace adds warmth.

“We wanted it to be comfortable,” Schnitzer said. “We were up in Northern Arizona and found a series of wooden art that has a barn theme. These whiskey bottles on the walls were my grandfather’s. I inherited them. Some of them still have whiskey in them, after 50 or 60 years.”

The tavern and bar spill out onto large patios on the home’s east and north sides.

About that bar – it has a canine theme, complete with paintings and caricatures of dogs, and bronze lamps fashioned like bulldog heads. The bar menu is titled “The Ruff Stuff” and includes signature cocktails, wine and draft beers.

“We’re trying to be really fun here,” Schnitzer said. The décor includes a series of drawings Luci Schnitzer discovered. Titled “The Dirty Dogs,” it’s a delightful, and only slightly naughty, group of drawings of dog sniffing each other and doing other canine things.

The tavern’s menu includes many favorites from Pomelo, including chicken pot pie with corn and chilies, topped with a cheddar biscuit crust; steak frites; and fish and chips – the “chips” being spicy potato “sidewinders” cut in thick spirals. The tavern also began serving brunch – with more Pomelo favorites – in mid-January.

Schnitzer’s one-word description of the Tavern’s cuisine? “Phenomenal. I spent four weeks in Boston, doing research. Taverns there are popular, with a little more elevated food than a pub, and it’s hard-core American comfort food.”

They’ve also kept the pizza oven, which was imported from Naples and is so big it had to be installed before the kitchens were renovated back before Pomelo opened.

Luci’s at the Orchard is in the second old house on the property. The kid-friendly spot includes a market and indoor and outdoor dining.

“People take their visiting relatives here,” Schnitzer said. “What are you going to do if you have four kids? You go to restaurants and they’re kind of mad because you have a family. We wanted it to be family friendly.”

The tented area between the main buildings is closed off in the evenings for events, served by a “shed” structure that houses buffets and the bar. “We’re a full catering operation,” Schnitzer said. “We do so many weddings on-site that I’m probably going to buy a bus where the bride can get ready.”

Luci’s, the Tavern and Splurge at The Orchard, 7100 N. 12th St., have different opening hours. For information, call 602-633-2600 or visit

Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect the crossroads as 12th Street and Glendale Avenue.


  • Marjorie Rice

    Marjorie Rice is an award-winning journalist, newspaper food editor, travel editor and cookbook editor with more than three decades' experience writing about the culinary industry.

    View all posts

Hello, North Central neighbor — thank you for visiting!

Sign up to receive our digital issue in your inbox each month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.