Backed by the patio fireplace at The Vig North Central, Jeremy Pacheco, left, holds a cheeseburger while Blake Farbman serves up a steak salad. In the background, tuna tartare (photo by Darryl Webb, special for North Central News).


Jeremy Pacheco, culinary director for the sprawling Genuine Concepts restaurant group, is a stickler for details. Who else would have a tasting of six different sliced pickles for their cheeseburger?

Settled into one of the comfy couches in the spacious patio of The Vig North Central, one of the newest Genuine Concepts locations, Pacheco described the painstaking process of picking purveyors for the group’s menus.

Take, for example, the seeming lowly cheeseburger.

“We put a lot of effort into it,” Pacheco said. “Every component has to be right. We wanted to make sure it’s the best burger we can make, so we went through tasting eight to 10 different burger patties, with five or six different styles.”

They found a source, a 100-year-old local farm, he said, “but after several years, they decided they didn’t want to be in the ground beef business anymore, so we had to go through the process again.”

The same goes for buns – ending with Phoenix’s Noble Bread.

And don’t forget the fries. “Fifteen different options,” said Blake Farbman, vice president for operations for the Genuine Concepts group.

“Jeremy’s very conscious about The Vig having something for everybody,” Farbman said. “That’s why you see so many different components in the menu – familiar but elevated. I think that’s the cool part about The Vig. You can get tacos, pozole, a burger, prime rib – a little bit of everything and that makes it cool.”

“It’s all scratch, with high-quality ingredients,” Pacheco said. “We’re an American upscale tavern. We want everything to be the best, and that’s what we focus on.”

Favorites include those cheeseburgers, along with tuna tartare and a steak salad topped with crispy onions.

And there’s a wide selection of beverages.

“We’re working the cocktail list all the time, and we just changed the wine menu,” Pacheco said. “I took one for the team and tasted 40 different wines. We wanted good wine at a reasonable price.”

Another focus is comfort – with a careful selection of locations, then layers of creature comforts such as comfy seating in the laid-back patios. The vibe is laid-back, with an edge of sophistication in a very cool setting. Lots of comfortable seats, lounge areas, spacious patios – a place to sink in and savor creature comforts and creative menu selections.

“Ambiance is always on point,” Farbman said. “There’s just this warm vibe that you get into these facilities; it feels cozy. It’s comfort, and it’s not pretentious,” Farbman said.

The Vig North Central’s patio, with its leisurely ambiance, is an especially inviting example. It’s in a location formerly occupied by another Genuine Concept restaurant, Ladera Taverna y Cocina. The renovation included the patio, making some changes to enhance creature comforts.

“We make the fireplace a focal point from any spot in the building,” Farbman said. “You sit in the patio, and you almost feel like you’re in a ski lodge with the fireplace and hardwood ceilings and décor.”

Genuine Concepts was founded about 17 years ago by Tucker Woodbury and Jim Riley. Today the group includes Vig locations in North Central, Arcadia (the original), McDowell Mountain, Park West in Peoria, McCormick Ranch and downtown Phoenix on Fillmore; along with The Little Woody at 42nd Street and Indian School Road, Campo at McCormick Ranch, The Womack at 7th Street and Bethany Home Road, The Genuine in North Central, and The McMillan on Route 66 in Flagstaff.

The group is looking to expand, Farbman said. “We’ve seen a lot of restaurateurs who are doing Buckeye and Surprise, Goodyear and Maricopa – that’s where the magic is.”

“We’re a neighborhood place,” Pacheco said. “We pick the neighborhoods for our restaurants, and that’s what makes them different.” The group has helped to transform the dining scene at several locations, helping to create hubs where creative restaurants cluster, he said.

“What we do, you have to love,” Farbman said. “What I love about our group is we always want to do better, provide a better experience. We never settle. With our expansion, we’re spreading out without selling out.”

The Vig, at 8729 N. Central Ave., is open from 3 to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m., Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 602-606-2258 or visit


  • 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.

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