Though Tucson will become the sixth location of Culinary Dropout for restaurateur Sam Fox, our location will garner some firsts.
To convert the former Grant Road Lumber Yard to a 20,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor restaurant – with 12,000 square feet being enclosed – Fox estimated the construction costs at $9 million. He said it will be the largest investment in a restaurant he has made in Tucson, possibly the largest for him nationwide. Fox currently has 50 restaurants in 10 states.
Fox decided to call his newest location Culinary Dropout at Grant Road Lumber Yard in honor of the Hauert family, who ran the business for 66 years until it closed in 2015.
Come mid-September, Tucson’s newest Fox Restaurant concept will seat about 400 inside and out. Besides the full dining room and bar, the Tucson location will feature a Yard gaming area and The Coop, a 150-person private dining and event space. Live music will play a few nights a week.
Now let’s talk about the cooking space.
“It has an incredible kitchen, probably the best we’ve ever built,” said Fox, estimating the space will be about 3,600 square feet. “We’re excited to have something new in Tucson,” said Fox, a Tucson native, adding that his concept will employ 175 people. He noted that he’s looking for good managers and chefs in Tucson to come on board.
With its modern, amped-up cuisine, Culinary Dropout already has garnered legions of fans. In fact, two locations in the Phoenix area recently made Open Table’s Top 100 Hot Spots, a list based on more than 10 million diners’ reviews for over 25,000 restaurants.
Out of Fox’s 16 restaurant concepts, why did he choose Culinary Dropout? After all, it has been years since a new Sam Fox concept opened in Tucson.
He said he was intrigued when one of his real estate connections mentioned that the Grant Road Lumber Yard was for sale.
“I thought, ‘Wow this sort of makes perfect sense,’” said Fox, 47. “I love the real estate. It’s in a great area. There’s the university, the east side, the foothills. It’s such a good part of town that’s sort of been under served.”
Plus, Fox said it was time.
“We’ve been wanting to do something else in Tucson for a while,” said Fox, adding that his goal is to open a new Culinary Dropout every year or 18 months.
Though the square footage sounds huge for a restaurant, Tucson’s location will fall in between the smallest and largest locations in the Phoenix area. Like Tucson, two of the Phoenix-area spots were converted from other businesses. The 30,000-square-foot Tempe location formerly served as a grain mill, and the central Phoenix location was a motorcycle shop. In the larger locations, Fox rents out extra space to other tenants. The original location in Scottsdale measures at about 5,000 square feet.
The locations outside Arizona – one in the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas and one in Austin –each measure about 5,000 square feet inside and out.
When asked when more Fox restaurants were coming to Tucson, the Scottsdale resident played demure.
“We’re toying with some ideas and stuff,” he said. “We’re looking to expand more.”
Culinary Dropout at Grant Road Lumber Yard is located at 2543 E. Grant Rd. For more information, go to culinarydropout.com.