By Molly Cerreta Smith
LoveCraft Ale House, Bottle Shop and Smoke Kitchen has evolved greatly in the short time since it opened its doors less than a year ago last December. What started as a beer bar with small bites served on paper plates has evolved into a full service sit down restaurant with community tables, real plate wear and utensils, an expanded menu, more than 130 craft beers (including 25 on tap) and wine and beers available to purchase and enjoy or take to go and lunch service on weekends beginning at 11:00 a.m., events, community collaborations and much more.
As a neighbor in the North 32nd corridor who grew up in New Mexico and moved to Arizona for college, owner Rebecca Golden and her boyfriend-slash-business partner Ryan Castillo, who grew up in the area where his parents still live, wanted to open a friendly neighborhood concept. And when it came time to create the menu and decide what type of food they were going to serve, Golden returned to her New Mexico roots. “Since moving here, the one thing I’ve always missed is the food,” says Golden, adding, “New Mexico style is all about slow cooking. Smoking meat is the perfect combination with the homemade sauces that include really simple ingredients that simmer and come together to create deep, complex flavor profiles.”
Golden, who is also the founder of the area’s popular 32 Shea restaurant, says LoveCraft sees a lot of neighborhood locals and repeat customers but also get crowds in from the Moon Valley and Sunnyslope areas. “This community helped build us,” she adds. “We rely on the support of the community to help us grow — we don’t have investors or a corporate backing. But that’s the cool part. We hope our customers see us as the result of the power of supporting local businesses.”
Since opening, LoveCraft has also expanded its menu, but Golden says it’s still a fairly simple menu using the smoker — and time — to enhance those rich BBQ and New Mexico flavors. Some of the restaurant’s popular items include Green Chile Blanco Queso Dip, Green Chile Burrito smothered in queso, 3-Layer Stacked Enchiladas, Mini Street Tacos, Smoked Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos and, of course, slow-smoked BBQ options including brisket, pork, and chicken. Their sauces — including red, green and Las Cruses white — are all house made, and the menu is also very inclusive for those with dietary requests. The marinated Smokey Mushrooms are vegan, and many menu items are naturally gluten friendly including corn tortillas, beans, salads and more to give all diners options.
To wash down a delicious plate of authentic New Mexico-style BBQ offerings, LoveCraft serves up a wide selection of libations. They pride themselves on carrying beverages that are hard to find and offer very competitive pricing on their carry out items. In addition to beer and wine, they have hard kombuchas, mead and ciders.
As their menu and beverage selection has grown, so has the concept’s popularity — so LoveCraft is expanding! They are currently in the process of adding a second story rooftop patio terrace with beautiful mountain views. “Yes, this is a restaurant, but for me it’s also my artistic palette. From the marketing to the food to the décor, it’s all part of the creative process for me,” says Golden of the restaurant’s design, ambiance and expansion.
“We’re so excited for this next phase and to be the only place in the area to offer mountain and sunset views,” says Golden, who feels pride not only in her business — but also a responsibility to the community as a whole. “It’s my duty to help local businesses as much as I can because I know how hard it can be. We always try to collaborate on events with other neighborhood businesses. We all have the same business mentality of bringing people into this neighborhood.” So it makes sense to work together, right? With a background in graphic design and a talent for marketing, Golden also lends these skills to other businesses so they don’t have the burden of trying to recreate the wheel and figure those things out on their own.
Some of their collaborative events with other local businesses include Drag Queen Bingo with The Joy Bus Diner, a non-profit that makes meals for homebound cancer patients and Ping Pong tournaments with local breweries and businesses. LoveCraft is even part of promoting a free neighborhood social run club led by local personal trainer Michelle Fencl. On Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., runners of all skill levels are invited to meet at LoveCraft, do a three-mile loop (on foot, bike, skateboard or whatever!) and then return to LoveCraft for food and drinks! On Tuesdays, LoveCraft also hosts Madame Elizabeth who does Tarot Card readings for $5.
The Pop-up Typewriter event takes place Wednesdays with local poet Fadi creating custom poetry for guests on beautiful paper. A donation of $20 is suggested and benefits The Joy Bus Diner. LoveCraft also offers 1/2 priced bottles of wine from 3:00 p.m. to close on Wednesdays, as well as tasting events featuring Young’s Market, which brings new and different wines for guests to try.
“We like to have our customers try different things and we’ll make sure to buy a case of something special that they really like,” Golden says. “We are working towards putting ourselves on the map for our wines.”
Crafty (but not cheesy, Golden points out) events are also offered at LoveCraft including live artists and craft nights such as Bob Ross Day and Beads and Meads; and throughout football season, LoveCraft is open early and offers beer and food specials for game day viewing. Other events include live music; Ice Cream Social Sundays with dessert trucks in the parking lot from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and progressive happy hour every day from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. with specials on the food and drink menus changing throughout the course of the happy hour — so at 3:00 p.m. $3 specials are offered, at 4:00 p.m. $4 specials are offered and so on.
Golden also adds that LoveCraft is not just for the 21-plus crowd. “We’re really kid friendly and we have board games, ping pong and foosball,” she says. “People and kids can get up out of their seats and be social. It’s just a really comfortable setting for all ages.”
One of the things that Golden notes as a local business owner is the opportunity her customers have to interact directly with her. “If things aren’t executed perfectly or if there is a problem, we welcome feedback. We encourage people to reach out and let us fix the problem,” she says. “And if you like what you see, please share it. This is all of our property value at stake — and it will go up if we continue to grow and support our local community.”
LoveCraft, located at 3128 East Cactus Road, is open Tuesday through Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; Friday 3:00 p.m. to midnight; Saturday 11:00 a.m. until midnight and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. For more, visit www.lovecraftphx.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lovecraftphx.