Phoenix is starting to say goodbye to chain restaurants and hello to locally owned establishments. “We’ve really emerged as a culinary destination,” R.J. Price, vice president of marketing and events for Downtown Phoenix Inc., said. The award-winning chef and owner, Chris Bianco, brought New York-style pizza to Phoenix after moving to the desert city in the 1980s.
Phoenix is a rising star in the Valley of the Sun. With a strong sense of community, a developing downtown, and a growing arts and culinary scene, the desert city is in the middle of a cultural renaissance. Although most people may not think of Phoenix as much of a cultural hot spot, those who live there beg to differ. “It’s probably one of the most creative cities in the country,” said Catrina Kahler, publisher of the Downtown Phoenix Journal.
There’s never been a better time to be an artist in Phoenix. “A number of artists have decided to make Phoenix their canvas,” Catrina Kahler, publisher of the Downtown Phoenix Journal, said. “The murals around the restaurant were created out of my love for murals initially,” Silvana Salcido Esparza, chef and owner of Barrio Café, said.
As a professional athlete, Luis Gonzalez moved around a lot, but Phoenix has always felt like home to him. The Diamondbacks legend, who is also a senior adviser to the president and CEO of the team, came to Phoenix in 1999. “I feel attached to the fans and the people here,” Gonzalez said.
The city of Phoenix made history after Jeri Williams was hired as police chief and Kara Kalkbrenner as fire chief. Phoenix is the largest city in the country with both a female police and fire chief. “They were by far the most qualified and respected candidates, who happened to be women,” Mayor Greg Stanton said.
Forget Silicon Valley: Tech entrepreneurs are flocking to Phoenix to start their businesses. In 2012, there were 67 tech companies in downtown Phoenix. Arizona State University has played a major role in the city’s tech boom.
Phoenix is throwing away the reputation it once had as the world’s least sustainable city and making great strides to become more resourceful. It has launched a Reimagine Phoenix Initiative with a goal to increase the city’s waste diversion rate to 40 percent by 2020 — and it doesn’t stop there. “We’re going straight to zero waste by the year 2050,” said Ginger Spencer, the city’s public works director.