Well-known for Arcadia area eateries like The Collins and Wally’s, Chef Christopher Collins and his restaurant group, Common Ground Culinary, are adding a couple more restaurants to the roster.
Located on 7th St. just north of Missouri Ave. is The Colony, a collection of restaurants and retail shops. Neighborly Public House and St. Urban will be the newest residents – one building and two restaurants, as the duo sit one on top of the other.
Neighborly will take over the bottom, and St. Urban will rest on top.
According to Chef Collins, the focus of Neighborly will be fan-fare American food like prime rib, baby-back ribs, salmon and fun appetizers like oysters Rockefeller, plus one of Collins’ family recipes for homemade cornbread.
“My dad owned Marie Callender’s, so cornbread was a staple of my childhood,” Collins said. “I’ve always wanted to have a restaurant that had it, and I just never went for it. Since Neighborly is going to be dinner-only, this is a perfect time.”
Collins said that he hopes Neighborly gives off two vibes – the restaurant you go to three days a week to sit at the bar and have a burger and a glass of wine, and also the place where couples go for an anniversary or date night.
“We want this place to be where people go to have fun, have cocktails and big-boy bottles of wine. It’s going to be amazing,” he said.
Previously, St. Urban’s location housed a speakeasy – dim lighting, dark booths and not one window in the whole space. But that’s about to change.
“I’m looking at the view, and I know Camelback and Piestewa Peak are there. This is the only second-story bar in the neighborhood, so I said, ‘blow open the windows and get some glass doors, let’s open this place up,’” Collins said.
St. Urban will be a small, intimate dining area with an “approachable” wine list. As St. Urban is the patron saint of wine, there will be an extensive list of beverages to go along with the Common Ground cocktail program.
“Since it’s a Collins restaurant, we knew the food had to be the shining star. So this one is everything I want to eat, all the time,” Collins said.
The inspiration behind the dishes is that of a French brasserie, with shucked oysters, peel-and-eat shrimp, deviled eggs, charcuterie plates and bigger eats like flatbreads (insider tip: duck confit is on the menu!) and paninis.
The newly-constructed space will have floor-to-ceiling windows, glass sliding doors and all-new seating and décor.
“People are going to drive down 7th Street and look up and see this glowing restaurant with little bodies walking around and go ‘what is that, I want to go see that,’” Collins said.
St. Urban will open for lunch, dinner and “a little” late-night.
Collins explained that he always knew there would be another opportunity for Common Ground, that his brain never stops thinking about restaurants and what the next step could be. He carries around a notebook called “The Name Game,” where he writes down ideas, as well as names that he can trademark for future concepts.
“Neighborly and St. Urban are mine, in the whole country, forever and ever,” he laughed. “The name came about because when something happens at the restaurant, I ask my staff, ‘were you neighborly’? And they tease me about it. But that name was a slam dunk.”
As far as location goes, Collins knew that he wanted to stay in Central Phoenix. He explained that even though restaurants are opening up and doing well in the west and east valley, this is where he grew up, where his friends and family are, and where he wants to stay.
The goal is for Neighborly to open first, in mid-October, for dinner only. St. Urban plans to open a week after.
This makes nine restaurants for Common Ground, which started in 2011.
Grassroots Kitchen and Tap, Wally’s American Gastropub, Twisted Grove Parlor and Bar, The Collins Small Batch Kitchen, The Macintosh, Sweet Provisions, Neighborly Public House, St. Urban and Arcadia Catering Company make up the group.
“I feel like these restaurants wrap up Common Ground Culinary. Macintosh and Collins are doing so great. We have so much momentum, and these last two concepts will pull everything together so we can settle for a minute and focus on what we’ve got,” Collins said.