Wondering what happened to gourmet Italian-Chinese Valley restaurant favorite Marco Polo in Scottsdale at Shea Boulevard near Loop 101?
The Scottsdale Marco Polo closed in April and renovations started shortly afterward. But when the eatery reopens in mid-January, it will be the reincarnation of a legendary Scottsdale hot spot, What’s Your Beef.
"The millennium version will be more upscale with an extravagant wine program," said Oliver Badgio, one of the partners.
The former version of the beef-by-the-pound restaurant packed diners and dancers into a jumping joint near Hayden and McDonald roads until the traffic annoyed nearby neighbors enough to force its closure in 1991. Scottsdale built a water treatment plant in its stead.
There are no nearby homeowners to offend at the new location.
The new What’s Your Beef will still be "infused with fun," including live entertainment and dancing, Badgio said. But maybe not the games that filled the bar side of the old eatery.
Marco Polo was a popular fixture in the Shea Boulevard shopping center for 10 years after being kicked out of its original location in downtown Scottsdale to make room for the then-imminent Waterfront Project. The partners added a second — art deco-decored — Marco Polo at 26th Street and Camelback Road a few years ago. There are no plans to close that location, Badgio said.
The partners plan to grow their even more upscale eateries Mastro’s Steakhouse in north Scottsdale and Ocean Club in Kierland Commons into chains. A Mastro’s has already opened in Beverly Hills, Calif. In 2004, the owners plan to open two more Mastro’s — in Washington, D.C., and Marlton, N.J., and an Ocean Club in Orange County, Calif.
The partners also own all seven Maloney’s including bars in Scottsdale and Tempe, and a new island-themed northeast Phoenix eatery Cocomo Joe’s near Tatum and Dynamite boulevards.
• A sure sign of a retail revival: Scottsdale Fashion Square has a host of temporary shops angling for space for the holidays, enough to fill up all the empty in-line spots and mid-mall carts. Brookstone, Bastille — a women’s clothing store, and Hickory Farms plan to open stores in mid-November.
Already opened are Wilson’s Leather, Le Mode — a silver-specialty jeweler, Salsa-Style Art Studio — despite its name a shop that sells candles and offers table setting options, and Saraswati Gifts, which specializes in Indonesian art works and objects. "A very cool store," said mall marketing assistant Dawn Anderson of Saraswati. "It may be the most unique one in Scottsdale Fashion Square."
• Not just for the holidays: A permanent Oakley store opened in Scottsdale Fashion Square, featuring fashions and accessories as well as the famous sunglasses brand. Iacon, the retail segment of the company, is based in Scottsdale.
• Arizona Mills mall in Tempe just landed a pack of new stores in time for holiday shopping. Bulls Eye Wireless, Calendar Collection, KB Toys Express and Christmas Corner are already open. Crescent Jewelers is expected to debut before Thanksgiving. And Fashion Day Spa is slated to open in December, offering a treat for weary shoppers and a gift idea for clueless gift givers.
• At Fiesta Mall in Mesa, several holiday stores have signed on so far, including Hickory Farms, Ornaments and Ink, which sells personalized ornaments, Tumahawk, an American Indian art gallery, Comfy and Cosy, which sells sheepskin products, and a UPS Store to make the mall a convenient holiday shopping and shipping stop.
• Macy’s plans a grand opening for its Furniture Galleria in the Fiesta Mall store today. The Mesa Macy’s is the second Valley version of the department store chain to get the big furniture section. The first is in the Paradise Valley Mall store in Phoenix. Browse and buy sooner, but the festivities and prize drawings are scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Also relatively new to the mall is D.E.M.O., a hip-hop inspired fashion shop.