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  • Writer's pictureDiana Brandt

Gadzooks Open In Arcadia

Aaron and Jared Pool, co-owners of Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup, are excited to announce a second location of this popular fast-casual Mexican restaurant is now open in the heart of the Arcadia/Biltmore areas. Carved into a triangular-shaped, canal-side lot just east of 40th Street on Camelback (4031 E. Camelback Rd., 602-279-5080), this all-new Gadzooks boasts the same gourmet menu of bold, from-scratch Mexican favorites served for breakfast, lunch and dinner, highlighted by an infinitely-customizable selection of enchiladas (plus tacos, nachos, salads and breakfast fare) made with cooked-to-order tortillas, slow-braised meats, vegetables, Mexican cheeses and a variety of house-made sauces and salsas. However, unlike the original Gadzooks (carved inside a revamped former auto repair shop), this new location is housed inside a custom-built 2,100-sq.-ft. space, with an expansive al fresco dining patio and a dedicated off ramp welcoming people walking and biking along the adjacent Arizona Canal. Plus, this new location also serves up a custom craft beer that pairs perfectly with spicy foods, a proprietary Bavarian-style Hefeweizen named Casa Blanca and locally made by Wren House Brewing Co. (which is co-owned by Aaron and Jared's brother, Drew Pool).

In fact, Gadzooks' growth is a true family affair, with Aaron Pool turning down outside inventors and even potential franchisors to partner with his older brother Jared Pool, who sold his successful dentist practice in San Francisco, and moved back to Phoenix to serve as Gadzooks new Co-Owner and Chief Operations Officer. Plus, the two brothers are also building a standalone commercial bakery for their mother, Linda Pool, who provides Gadzooks' signature brown sugar glazed pumpkin cookies, that will also feature a commercial space for Gadzooks to create fresh-made dressings, salsas and more as it continues to grow.

"We found the site nearly four years ago," Aaron Pool says, "loved the location right on Camelback and knew it had never been developed, so it was almost too good to be true." Wedged between an existing residential condo complex and the still-working irrigation canal, "Naturally there were a lot of complexities with this site," Pool says, "including easement issues with the canal because SRP has right-of-way access, as well as an obligation to the Federal government to maintain the canal's operation."

In the end, all parties agreed upon a 70-person, 2,100-sq.-ft. restaurant space - "Which is actually larger than our original location," Pool says - and includes a Gadzooks first, a dedicated walkup to-go window. The building itself features Gadzooks' signature grey and orange color scheme, with a colorful front awning and plenty of natural lighting from the oversized windows. That said, Pool says the new Gadzooks "Caters to the Arcadia neighborhood by having the dining room flow seamlessly into a large patio overlooking the canal, which on weekends allows people to have a more leisurely dining experience rather than dine and go, plus plenty of bike rack parking."

"We really wanted Gazdooks' new location to be welcoming to the canal," Pool says. "It's ironic because while I was a student at ASU, I took a design class taught by a professor who was obsessed with the canals and wanted to develop the canals as an alternative focus from the traditional street grid. I never thought I'd get the opportunity and now I share that passion for beautifying the canal." To accomplish this goal, Pool worked with SRP to ensure Gadzooks will have lush landscaping without running afoul of the utility's strict guidelines. "They said absolutely no trees are allowed along the canal, but otherwise were very open about us adding decorative landscaping."

As for why Pool chose the Arcadia area for the first of what he hopes are several new locations of Gadzooks, Pool says. "Downtown Phoenix seemed too close to our existing area, but we also wanted someplace that might be familiar with Gadzooks fans. Arcadia fit the bill because it's close enough that many of our exiting customers work in midtown and eat lunch at Gadzooks. And there are lots of young professionals and young families, which is our target audience." Finally, he says, "the only casual-attire canal-side dining option is OHSO right now. So we want to help expand on that canal-centric model for Arcadia and beyond."

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