Dine-In, Take-Out, Repeat — Fall Restaurant Week in Carefree

While spring and summer have been challenging for everyone, the restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard. But as the temperatures begin to drop, along with coronavirus numbers, there is a cautious sense of optimism as fall approaches.

Joining in that optimism, and with a huge dose of gratitude for continued patron support, is the Carefree Restaurant Association as it once again presents diners the opportunity to sample new and exciting menu offerings during its Fall Restaurant Week, Oct. 1–11.

Participating restaurants are fired up and ready to showcase the diverse culinary options to be found in Carefree — from hearty American fare, to English afternoon tea and Mediterranean influence; from cafés and bistros to steakhouses and everything in between. Some restaurants will offer a special lunch menu, while others will offer a three-course dinner for dine-in or take-out customers.

Prices for Fall Restaurant Week 2020:
Lunch Menu (2-courses) $18
Dinner Menu (3-courses) $35 or $45
(per person, excluding alcohol)

“We have all had a very tough year,” said Carefree Restaurant Association chairperson Jo Gemmill. “We are so grateful for the customers who have continued to support us during these hard times, whether by dining in or picking up take-out. Carefree Restaurant Week is our way of saying ‘Thank You’ to our community for continuing to support us.”

Gemmill added that, unlike many other towns, Carefree’s restaurant base is made up of independent, family-owned businesses, something that makes the town so irresistible to residents and visitors alike.

“No large corporate chains dictate menu, pricing or marketing campaign — rather, the individual business owner can determine the look, feel, style, concept and brand their own restaurant based on their own individual culinary expertise.”

During the event, participating restaurants will follow all CDC guidelines regarding safety measures and limited dine-in capacity.

For additional details on Carefree Restaurant Week, including a complete list of all Carefree restaurants and menus, visit carefreerestaurants.com.

A Peek Inside Carefree’s Eateries

We asked a few of the participating restaurants to share a little bit about what makes their eatery stand out. Here is what they had to say. |CST

Black Mountain Coffee Shop
7211 E. Ho Road, Suite 23
“We are a unique breakfast and lunch restaurant located in the heart of Carefree,” said restaurant manager, Christina Holmes. “The majority of the locals enjoy having their morning coffee with friends or stopping by for lunch in the afternoon. Established in 1978, we have been serving the community and visitors from around the world. Our homemade cinnamon rolls and biscuits topped with our secret gravy recipe have been a hit for decades.”

36889 N. Tom Darlington Drive
“At Confluence, we believe in serving up healthy options without sacrificing flavor. We have a cozy bistro interior as well as an open patio with mountain views,” said owner Victoria Gauthier. “Chef Brandon wants to make this restaurant unique to the area, where you can order a la carte; however, it is meant to have multiple courses and tastings. The wine list will be worldly with a heavy by the glass section — so you can enjoy all of your favorites. At Confluence we focus on seasonal offerings from as many local farmers as possible. We also enjoy sourcing some of the finest foods from around the world. We love introducing fun, unique ingredients to our guests in a comfortable environment.”

English Rose Tea Room
201 Easy St., Suite 103
Situated in the heart of Carefree, the English Rose Tea Room provides an exquisite “Afternoon Tea” experience. “Try a scone with Devon Cream, or the Duchess of Bedford’s Formal Afternoon Tea, or simply a delicious vegetarian quiche…there is something for every discerning tea lover’s palate,” said owner Jo Gemmill. “The interior of the Tea Room boasts sumptuous fabrics of velvet and silk, crystal chandeliers and beautiful bone china tea sets. An extensive lunch menu, a beautifully appointed outdoor patio and a gorgeous gift store, makes the English Rose Tea Room a ‘Must Do’ when coming to Carefree.” Open Tuesday thru Sunday, 11am–4pm.

Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse
7212 E. Ho Hum Road
“Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse is the latest concept by our family-run company, Keeler Hospitality Group, LLC,” said Michael Fischer, general manager. “Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse features only the finest certified Angus beef steaks, freshest available seafood, chicken and American specialties that redefine comfort food, served with professional yet unpretentious service. In addition to fine dining, Keeler’s features an inviting and upscale neighborhood social house atmosphere that encourages conversation and laughs among old friends and new. The restaurant boasts a centrally located island bar, large adjacent patio, beautiful courtyard and roof-top deck designed for stargazing and lounging after a good wholesome meal — made by our family for yours.”

Venues Cafe
34 Easy St.
We have been a Carefree staple for 10 years offering comfort food with a Southwest flair,” said owner Catherine Marr. “Dining options include light bites such as deviled eggs with bacon jam, street tacos, loaded mac and cheese and lettuce wraps. Signature salads such as the Chicken Taco Salad, Roasted Beet Salad and customized Chopped Salad are popular, Marr says, as well as full comfort meals like a baked, stuffed pork chop, Chicken Schnitzel with lingonberry sauce or mixed grill kabobs.”

4 Ways to Engage With Art at The Holland Center in October

The Holland Center is a privately funded community center in the North Valley, serving North Scottsdale, North Phoenix, Carefree and Cave Creek. The center offers activities throughout the month, ranging from classes, lectures, theater performances and more. Here are just a few of the events coming up beginning Sept. 30, into October and beyond.

“Spitfire Departure” by Betsy Aguirre, member of Arizona Watercolor Association, Inc.; courtesy of Holland Center

1. Arizona Watercolor Association — Juried Show and Sale

Showing: Sept. 30 — Nov. 18, Monday through Thursday; 10am–4pm
Opening Reception: Saturday, Oct. 3, 4:30–6:30pm
The Arizona Watercolor Association (AWA) display will not only include watercolor paintings, but all types of water-based media at The Holland Gallery of Fine Art. An organization of nearly 300 Artists, AWA has been active for 60 years, mentoring and presenting the works of some of Arizona’s most talented artists.
This exhibition will also be available online. According to the Holland Center, residents will be able to access this feature on its website, “We feel that if people cannot come to the Holland Center, they can still see the show and hear from each artist. It’s a unique opportunity to share these wonderful works of art!”

2. Art, Coffee and Conversation

Friday, Oct. 2; 10am–noon
Art, Coffee and Conversation is a monthly workshop where art lovers get together to discuss the current show in the Holland Gallery.  Led by Nicolette Bonnstetter, the lively discussions that take place are fun and fascinating.  Held the first Friday of each month via Zoom. The Oct. 2 program will be “Art and does size really matter?” in addition to a discussion of the Arizona Watercolor Association show that will go from Sept. 30 — Nov. 18. Register online.

3. Bookbinding — Long Stitch Journal

Thursday, Oct. 15; 9am–1pm
Explore your creative side with this bookbinding technique. In this four-hour bookbinding class with Lynda Abare, participants will create their own unique journal cover; measure, cut and fold pages, drill holes, then assemble, hand stitch and bind the journal together. All students will leave class with a completed Long Stitch Journal.
The Holland Center event page includes a link to Abare’s website to register and get more information, including a supply list; $45.

4. Memory Project Workshop

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 27 and Nov. 10; 1–2:30pm
Susan McCaslin, a noted artist from Connecticut, offers participants the opportunity to express themselves artistically in an attempt to make sense of all that has been experienced recently in the country and around the world. Living through a pandemic is something unique and she feels that people will want to remember what it was like.  During the workshop, create a three-dimensional figure that will hold memories, similar to a diary or a time-capsule.  All the materials needed will be found around the house. McCaslin will help participants get started, but they will be making it uniquely theirs. Three, 1-1/2-hour Zoom classes; $20 for all three sessions. Register online to be sent further instructions and the URL.

Also Coming Up in October:

Embossed Pewter Sampler
Tuesday, Oct. 13; 9am–1pm

Making Fermented Foods to Boost Your Immune System
Thursday, Oct. 15; 10am–noon

Travel Talk with David Decker
Thursday, Oct. 15; 10:30am–noon
Saturday, Oct. 17; 1–2:30pm

Wrapped Doughnut Necklace
Monday, Oct. 19; 9:30am–12:30pm

Train Your Brain
Thursday, Oct. 22, 3–4:30pm

The Holland Center is located at 34250 N. 60th St., Scottsdale. To register for classes, visit hollandcenter.org. For additional information, call 480.488.1090.

Boulders Resort & Spa Earns Industry Award

The Boulders Resort and Spa; submitted photo

The Boulders has been honored by Smart Meetings as “one of the best in the industry.” The resort was lauded for service excellence and distinctive meeting facilities and named on the 2020 Smart Stars award list as “Best Executive Retreat.”

“We are incredibly proud to continue to receive this endorsement,” said Julie Garber, director of Sales & Marketing. “It is a reflection of the dedication that our staff places on guest satisfaction and a tribute to how our meeting guests perceive the overall experience at the Boulders Resort.”

Top meeting planners praised the Boulders for their “distinctive indoor and outdoor meeting spaces and the abundance of floor-to-ceiling windows that capture the backdrop of the ancient boulder formations and panoramic beauty of the lush Sonoran Desert surroundings.”

According to founder and CEO, Marin Bright: “I’m truly honored to acknowledge and celebrate the Boulders who continue to serve our community with unwavering excellence and dedication to their services.”

The Boulders features 160 guest casitas and 61 one-, two- and three-bedroom villas, five restaurants and a lounge, two championship Jay Morrish-designed golf courses, eight tennis courts and a full-service spa. For more information call 480.488.9009 or visit theboulders.com.

Prescription for Nature: A Natural Path to Better Health

There is a new program to help the community find their own path to better health by connecting with nature through outdoor activity.

Born from an understanding that spending time outdoors is critical to overall physical and mental well-being, Desert Foothills Land Trust, with the support of local healthcare professionals, and the towns of Carefree and Cave Creek, created the Prescription for Nature program.

Ash Adams, owner of Just Breathe Pilates, demonstrates a Pilates movement at the Jewel of the Creek preserve.

Cynthia Driskell, a founding champion of the program and owner of Carefree Physical Therapy endorses the program in her practice because she believes “we need to connect with our outdoor spaces for our physical and mental health, and make the effort to be out in nature to enhance our personal life and life within our community.”

Other local healthcare providers, and believers in the benefits of nature to the overall well-being of the community, have also joined as founding champions including Just Breathe Pilates, Sterling Structural Therapy and Dr. Fabio of Integrative Healing & Wellness.

The Prescription for Nature “trail head” sign at Carefree Desert Gardens

The program is designed to promote the health benefits of connecting to nature through outdoor activity in a safe environment that’s suitable to each individual’s physical abilities and healthcare goals. With that in mind, the first in the series of trails included in the program are those at a level of comfort suitable for most. As the program grows, more local trails will be added at varying levels of difficulty and rated accordingly — from barrier free (easiest) to physically challenging (extremely difficult) everyone can find a path to suit their needs.

Desert Foothills Land Trust invites residents and visitors to check out one of their first in the series of Prescription for Nature trails located in the center of Carefree at the Carefree Desert Gardens. Just look for the new “trail head” sign, compliments of the town of Carefree, and get started on your path to better health.

To learn more about the program and trails, visit dflt.org/rxfornature. Healthcare professionals that would like to participate in the program can contact the Land Trust directly at info@dflt.org or by calling their office at 480.488.6131.

CST Community Spotlight: Venues Café, Carefree

Catherine Marr, owner of Venues Café says that offering a comfortable and safe place for people to enjoy comfort food with a Southwest flair is what her business is all about. The restaurant, located 34 Easy Street, has been a Carefree mainstay for 10 years.

“Entering the two story, red awning, brick building, you are immediately struck by the beauty and comfort of your surroundings,” said Marr. “Multiple rich textures of wood, stone and copper surround you and make you feel at home. The ambiance is comfortable, not stuffy and you can feel free to be Carefree in Venues.

“A fireplace rounds out the ambiance downstairs and there is also a dining room upstairs if you have a larger group or are just looking for a little extra Social distancing. Out front is a dog friendly patio overlooking the center of town, large glass patio doors providing great warmth and light into the dining area.”

Dining options include light bites such as deviled eggs with bacon jam, street tacos, loaded mac and cheese and lettuce wraps. Signature salads such as the Chicken Taco Salad, Roasted Beet Salad and customized Chopped Salad are popular, as well as full comfort meals like a baked, stuffed pork chop, Chicken Schnitzel with lingonberry sauce or mixed grill kabobs. Voted the best happy hour in the area, light bites are $4–$10, and $2 domestic beers and $5 wines and well drinks are offered 3–6pm every day.

Venues also delivers through Door Dash and Grub Hub and encourages take-out orders. The entire menu is available for take-out, except for brunch.

Current hours are 11:30am–8pm, Monday through Saturday. Brunch is served Sundays,

Specials include Monday Night Burgers, which include a choice of a complementary house wine or beer, and Thursday offers half priced bottles of wine with any entree purchase.

Marr added, “When we are able to safely gather again, Venues will resume their special evening events.”

In the meantime, she encourages residents to sign up as a VIP on the website or ask a server to sign them up to enjoy special discounts and learn about weekly happenings.

For additional information, call 480.595.9909 or visit venuescafe.com.

Meet the New Director: Robin Cochran Joins Foothills Caring Corps

Earlier this year, after 15 years of service, Debbra Determan announced her intention to retire as executive director of Foothills Caring Corps (FCC). An executive search was launched, which resulted in the hiring of Robin Cochran in August.

We caught up with the new director last month and she shared a little bit about herself, what drew her to Foothills Caring Corps, and what is next. So, please meet Robin Cochran, in her own words:

Robin Cochran, pictured here with her puppy, Molly.

I am Robin Cochran, and I live in the Troon North neighborhood. Before joining Foothills Caring Corps, I most recently was the chief development officer at Christian Care, Arizona’s largest nonprofit provider of senior living, which has six communities located throughout the state.

What was the path you took to get to where you are today?

I have a long-time impetus to help others in the community, which was originally fostered by my World War II veteran father and public servant mother. They encouraged my early passion to help others though participation in church and community volunteer activities and service projects, mostly assisting underserved seniors and at-risk teens in my native Mississippi community. The resolve I developed to assist in improving others’ lives and advocate for the underserved led me to obtain a law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Over the years, I also developed important charitable organization experience as I organized, planned, and chaired various fund-raising events, nonprofit campaigns and legacy planning programs. This has provided me the ability to recognize and implement effective strategies to help people, as well as to build community awareness.

What drew you to Foothills Caring Corps, and what are its current strengths and challenges?

Robin Cochran (center) and the team at FCC. Submitted photo

My decision to join FCC was driven in part by a desire to become more deeply connected to my local community. Further, I was drawn to the organization’s mission of service to older adults and persons with disabling conditions, to allow them to remain living independently for as long as possible.

I believe the commitment of the organization’s staff and our volunteers to FCC’s mission is our biggest strength.

Certainly, the current public health crisis has created new challenges for FCC on several fronts. First, many of its regular programs have had to be suspended or modified due to safety concerns. The organization’s programs include providing transportation for persons to medical appointments and therapies, a van program for social, exercise class and shopping outings, mobile meals, friendly visiting, handyman services, grocery shopping services, caregiver relief, and a mobility equipment loan closet, among others. Additionally, COVID concerns affect many members of our network of volunteers who are themselves in an at-risk age group, or have underlying medical conditions, which limit their ability to engage in the activities they normally would undertake on behalf of FCC. Finally, FCC’s budget has been impacted by the pandemic-required cancellation in March of its largest annual fundraiser, the Taste of Foothills.

What goal do you have for the organization and how can the community help?

The main goal I have is to serve with integrity, creativity and vision to enthusiastically carry out FCC’s strategic plan and meet the growing and changing needs of our neighbors. I hope to work collaboratively with our staff and volunteers to create a team that can move forward to accomplish our mission.

We are grateful for the continuing support the community has long provided to Foothills Caring Corps. We also hope that anyone who has an interest in volunteering will consider contacting our organization. Please visit our website, foothillscaringcorps.com, for more information, to become a donor, or to volunteer. |CST

Kiwanis Looking to Fund Major Projects — Application deadline is Oct. 1

Pictured: Kiwanis Splash Pad in Carefree. A $135,000 grant was given to the Town of Carefree for its construction. Photo courtesy of Kiwanis Club of Carefree

The Kiwanis Club of Carefree is currently investigating new projects to fund. They are asking organizations, businesses and individuals to submit a request to fund projects of $25,000 up to $1 million. The Project/Funds Committee has been formed to evaluate these requests. The request form can be found online, with the only requirement that the project meets the mission of serving the kids in the Cave Creek/Carefree community. The deadline is Oct. 1, 2020.

President Mike Poppenwimer added, “Kiwanis is looking for your help to find what is needed to benefit the children in this community.”

The Kiwanis Club of Carefree is one of the largest Kiwanis clubs in the world, with roughly 150 members. Its focus is on helping children recognize and develop their potential. The organization supports post-secondary scholarships, summer art programs, special needs support, youth service organizations and more.

To fill out the application visit kiwaniscarefree.org/community-project-request. To learn more about Kiwanis Club of Carefree, visit kiwaniscarefree.org.

Spread Joy Convoy a Big Hit With Caring Corps Neighbors

The Foothills Caring Corps (FCC) Spread Joy Convoy was busy sharing smiles and bringing happiness to its “Neighbors” in July and August. Caring Corps volunteers gathered at the FCC office every Tuesday and Thursday to decorate vans and their own vehicles. Neighbors are called the day before to alert them that the Spread Joy Convoy is heading their way the next day. The Spread Joy Convoy visited as many as 25 neighbors on each outing. Each neighbor was given a small goodie bag with treats, puzzles, a mask and a card.

Staff say that “Caring Corps Neighbors have been over the moon when the Convoy stops at their home. They have sent so many heartfelt thank you notes.” Some of the quotes from the notes: from Tammy, “You will never know how it brightened the day”; from Nancy, “A great spirit uplift”; from Jim and Ruth, “Thank you for bringing cheer to our home”; from Kathryn, “The Convoy made my day and week!”

The agency, which recently celebrated 20 years of serving the community, provides a variety of invaluable services including medical and van transportation, friendly visits, mobile meals, shopping assistance and more for Northeast Valley residents.

For more information or to volunteer, call 480.488.1105 or visit foothillscaringcorps.com.

Photos courtesy of Foothills Caring Corps

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Liberty Utilities Sewer Rate Increase Request

Liberty Utilities Sewer Rate Increase Request

When dealing with the utilities that provide services within our Town, the Town of Carefree has a responsibility to address the common interests of our residents and businesses. In doing so, we must also make sure that proper service is provided at a fair price. Liberty Utilities provides sewer service to much of Carefree and parts of north Scottsdale. Liberty Utilities has applied to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to increase rates by as much as 40+ percent.
Carefree has filed as an intervenor in this rate case assuring the Town a seat at the ACC rate case hearing scheduled to begin Sept. 16. During the rate hearing, Mayor Les Peterson will testify to reduce the proposed rate increases. In support of that effort, the Carefree Town Council unanimously approved a resolution detailing case background and expressing our unified commitment to secure the lowest possible rates for our residents and businesses. A link to the resolution can be found at: carefree.org/168/town-council
What can you do to stop this proposed $30 a month increase? Set aside 30 minutes and write a letter to the ACC expressing your thoughts. Letters matter. Write to:
Arizona Corporate Commission
1200 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Reference: Docket No. SW-02361A-19-0139

We are asking for good service at a fair price.

—John Crane
Vice Mayor, Town of Carefree

Smell Gone; Stink Remains: Revisited

Liberty Utilities Ratepayers: Beware A Hike is Coming…
Fellow Ratepayers, since my August letter, there have been additional positive developments in the Liberty Utilities sewer rate case scheduled to be heard in mid-September by the Arizona Corporate Commission (ACC).
These are important developments because they are related to “head-to-head” financial opposition to Liberty’s justification for a 41 percent rate increase to residents and a 32 percent increase to the business community. Specifically, very highly qualified Financial Staff members of the ACC and the Resident Utility Consumer Office (RUCO) have a taken point by point opposition to Liberty Utilities’ Overall Rate Proposal. ACC Staff and RUCO Staff recommend the following adjustments to sewer rates:

Organization                           Percent Increase Proposed*
Liberty Utilities                                               35.53 percent
ACC Staff                                                       (0.57 percent)
RUCO Staff                                                    (3.29 percent)

*Note: these are net percentages and do not include the “rate case expense surcharge of $4.26/ month” which would increase the percentage to gross.
In addition, both the City of Scottsdale and the Town of Carefree have passed formal Resolutions opposing this proposed Liberty Rate increase!
Making the Liberty Utilities arguments suspect, the ACC staff written testimony noted that, “During Staff’s review of the Company’s (Liberty’s) support (documents), Staff found there was a lack of compliance with basic accounting principles…” Further, “ACC Staff would characterize the Company’s books and records as overly complex and convoluted.” And further, Staff stated, “The Company failed to provide the requested reports, records, and documentation for the costs the Company seeks to recover in this rate case.”
RUCO Staff in their written testimony, “estimates that approximately $4.9 million of Liberty’s excess cash has been moved upstream (to Canada) to APUC over the past five years…”
Note: APUC is Liberty’s Canadian parent Company.
Fellow Ratepayers: The Arizona Corporate Commissioners not only need to see the studied and learned opposition to this rate from the ACC’s own Staff, and from RUCO, they need to hear and see your words of protest. Please write to them at:
Arizona Corporate Commission
1200 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

And be sure to note the Docket No. SW-02361A-19-0139

—Bob Moore

Golf & Cigar Lounge to Host Uncle Bear’s Brewery ‘Tap Take Over’

Sticks Golf & Cigar Lounge will host a Tap Take Over Night Aug. 21.  The event will run 4–10pm at its Carefree location.  All six of taps will feature different craft beers from Uncle Bear’s Brewery.  The craft beers will be paired with Sticks’ feature, Gurkha’s just released 30th Anniversary Trienta cigar.  The cost of the beer flight with the feature cigar will be $15.

Larry Foppe, partner at Sticks Golf & Cigar Lounge, shared that in commemoration of his 30 years in the cigar business, Kaizad Hansotia introduced the Gurkha 30th Anniversary Treinta cigar.  This is a Nicaraguan cigar made at the Aganorsa Leaf Factory. The Gurkha Treinta consists of an Ecuadoran wrapper, Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 binder and Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 filler from Estelí and Jalapa. All but the wrapper were grown by Aganorsa, one of Nicaragua’s largest producers of premium tobacco.

The anniversary cigars come in three sizes: Robusto, at 5 inches by 52 ring gauge; Toro, 6 by 54; and Magnum, 6 by 60. They come in boxes of 21, but the Toro size will also be offered in a 5-count tin.

Sticks Golf & Cigar Lounge is located at 37555 Hum Road in Carefree. The premium cigar lounge features indoor golf, a laser shooting range and a member’s only lounge.   For additional information, call 480.575.0993 or visit sticksgolf-cigarlounge.com.

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