On their way: Oregano’s Pizza Bistro prepares to hire, QC District to break ground

New restaurants, retail outlets, a food market and other businesses are under construction or being planned for downtown Queen Creek. (Courtesy of town of Queen Creek)

New restaurants, retail outlets, a food market and other businesses are under construction or being planned for downtown Queen Creek. (Courtesy of town of Queen Creek)

What kinds of retail outlets do Queen Creek residents want? Restaurants and family entertainment, according to participants in a live Facebook chat the town of Queen Creek conducted starting at 6:30 p.m. July 28 with Economic Development Director Doreen Cott.

The question-and-answer session is an opportunity for residents to ask questions and learn more about the commercial growth in Queen Creek, according to the town’s website: www.queencreek.org.

This is the second live Q&A hosted by the town. The concept was introduced May 27, when the public was able to ask questions of Queen Creek Public Works Director Troy White.

The 30-minute window allotted for the live online discussion on economic development was packed with questions from more than 40 people about which new businesses will be opening their doors in the community as well as suggestions on what others residents would like to come here.

“It was the fastest half-hour I’ve ever spent,” Ms. Cott said during an interview the following day.
The economic development director and Jen Snyder, the town’s digital media specialist, answered each question and spent time after the session had closed that night and the next day catching up with inquiries they did not have time to answer during the live chat, Ms. Cott said.

Her department has fielded many of the same questions before, Ms. Cott said.

“The questions were not unlike anything others we receive on a regular basis. Restaurants, retail and family entertainment are high on the list of demands,” she said.

She said she was not surprised by the high number of requests for fast-food and other eateries.
“Everyone has a preference, which is why there are so many pizza places and burger places. Each has their own distinct flavors and tastes, and people still desire for something else,” she said.

Among the restaurants people asked about were Arby’s, Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, Buffalo Wild Wings, Barro’s Pizza, Macayo’s, Starbucks, Zipps Sports Grill, Original Chop Shop and those in the Fox Restaurant Concepts chain. Oregano’s is planning to open in mid-October (see more on this below). Buffalo Wild Wings and Barro’s Pizza, both in the Queen Creek Marketplace at the northwest corner of Ellsworth Loop and Rittenhouse Road, are planning to open in late October and November, respectively, Denise Hart, vice president of marketing for Vestar, the company that owns and manages Queen Creek Marketplace, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Ms. Cott said Macayo’s owns lands for a restaurant in the marketplace but has decided not to build there. She said she did not know why.

The Original Chop Shop and Starbucks will open in the QC District, a commercial center planned on the northeast corner of Ellsworth and Rittenhouse, Ms. Cott replied during the live chat.
Jeff Hunter asked about the construction taking place in front of Uncle Bear’s restaurant in The Cornerstone at Queen Creek shopping center on the northwest corner of Rittenhouse and Ocotillo roads. Ms. Cott replied two new projects are going in — Christian Brothers Automotive and a Cornerstore.

Maryanne Schwartz Azanger asked if a Costco might come to Queen Creek; Ms. Cott replied no, saying the company looks for a minimum of 200,000 people within a trade area. Ms. Cott said a Tractor Supply store is planned for the northwest corner of Ellsworth and Riggs roads.

In response to questions about family entertainment, Ms. Cott told Facebook chatters the town is reaching out to companies such as Brunswick bowling centers, which include an arcade, and The Main Event, which offers bowling, an arcade and other activities.

She also said the town is reaching out to hotels to locate in Queen Creek.

“We have had quite a bit of interest,” she told the Independent. She said the town’s close proximity to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport; the town’s Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Center, 20464 E. Riggs Road; and agritourism, such as the Queen Creek Olive Mill, 25062 S. Meridian Road, and Schnepf Farms, 24810 S. Rittenhouse Road, are making Queen Creek a more attractive and viable destination.

“The town is working hard to attract a hotel with a minimum of 80-100 rooms,” she said.
August is a busy month for economic development, with Oregano’s ready to start hiring employees and a groundbreaking planned for the QC District.

Oregano’s Pizza Bistro will start hiring 60-80 staff members starting Aug. 26 on-site at 20677 E. Maya Road in downtown Queen Creek. (Independent Newspapers/Arianna Grainey)

Oregano’s Pizza Bistro will start hiring 60-80 staff members starting Aug. 26 on-site at 20677 E. Maya Road in downtown Queen Creek. (Independent Newspapers/Arianna Grainey)

Oregano’s Queen Creek
Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, 20677 E. Maya Road in downtown Queen Creek, will begin hiring on Aug. 26 in anticipation of a mid-October opening, according to an e-mailed response to questions from a company spokesperson. Applicants can stop by the restaurant from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. To start, the restaurant will hire 60 to 80 people in a range of service and kitchen jobs, both full-time and part-time.

Oregano’s Queen Creek will be open for lunch and dinner daily, according to the e-mail. Typically, that means 11 a.m.-10 p.m., but the hours can vary depending on the location and the rhythm of business.

The restaurant will share similar look, feel and menu to its other 15 locations in Arizona; however, it will have some unique elements such as hand-picked antiques, pictures and decorations.

QC District groundbreaking
A groundbreaking ceremony has been planned for 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, at the site of the QC District in downtown Queen Creek, Nicole King, a spokeswoman for the shopping center’s developer, Thompson Thrift Development Inc., said in a phone interview.

QC District is on a 20-acre parcel on the northeast corner of Ellsworth Loop Road and Maya Road, according to an information packet provided to the Queen Creek Planning and Zoning Commission.

The site is bordered on the west, east and south sides by existing commercial centers such as Queen Creek Marketplace, Queen Creek Crossroads and Queen Creek Fiesta. The north side of the development borders the Queen Creek Unified School District bus depot and fueling station, according to the packet.

A summer 2016 grand opening is anticipated, Eric Wojak, a development project manager for Thompson Thrift, said during a phone interview.

The project will be built in two phases, according to the packet. Phase one will encompass approximately 121,561 square feet of retail space consisting of 15 acres and 11 buildings ranging in uses such a health club, retail space and restaurants. Phase two is a 5-acre development slated to encompass an entertainment district or a high-density residential community that will be developed at a later date.

Sprouts Farmers Market and HomeGoods, with 28,000 square feet and 20,000 square feet, respectively, will anchor the site. In addition, the following businesses have been confirmed as tenants, Zachary Pace of Phoenix Commercial Advisors, the commercial real estate brokerage firm handling the client roster, said during a phone interview:

Starbucks, a freestanding building; Red Robin, a freestanding, 5,500-square-foot building; Cafe Rio, 2,800 square feet; Lydian Dental, 3,000 square feet; Vision Works, 2,200 square feet; SuperCuts, 1,100 square feet; Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, 1,400 square feet; and Jersey Mike’s Subs, 1,400 square feet.

About 25 percent remains to lease in phase one, Mr. Pace said.

“We’re definitely trying to get more restaurants, maybe a boutique fitness center or an upscale yoga studio,” Mr. Pace said.

Phase two will include a family entertainment center on 4 acres, he said.

Queen Creek Marketplace
In addition to the restaurants opening this fall, Village Inn began construction July 27 and the Data Doctors store is expected to open by the end of the year, Ms. Hart said.

T.J. Maxx will open in 23,045 square feet of the building vacated by the Sports Chalet; the remaining space will be converted into additional spaces for clients, Ms. Hart said. The department store is projected to open in 2016, she said.

Ms. Hart and Ms. Cott said conversations are under way to secure a new tenant for the building formerly occupied by Circuit City but both said it was too early to announce with whom they were talking.

Mountainside Fitness confirmed it would be opening a Queen Creek location at Rittenhouse and Ellsworth, Grace Koval, marketing director for the fitness company, said in an e-mailed response to questions. However, she said she could not confirm if the company would take over the old Circuit City building.

“As far as I know, we are building,” she said.

For more information about economic development in Queen Creek, visit the Retail Developments page on the town’s website.

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