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What Have You Been Up to Lately?

Most of our customers know us from the farmers markets we were attending. The rest know us from meal prep and others from being a personal chef and catering of private parties. And now, our customers know us as Taza Bistro, the newest venture. So here’s what we’ve been up to.

One Year Ago, Summer of 2021

What do you remember about summer of 2021? Covid-19 was slowly coming to an end. Or was it???? Taza was going to Uptown Farmers Market at 6am to setup our tent and trailer, cook our food and be ready to sell our dishes by 7am. Mostly because by 9am it got so hot no one could even handle to stand outside. We all know what that’s like: Phoenix in the heat of June, coming up on July, and God forbid…August!

Let me just say that standing in front of a hot griddle in January is a blessing (you stay warm when others are cold), but standing in front of a griddle in July is like being in the bowls of Dante’s Inferno (for those who know what I’m talking about).

We loved every moment of being a food vendor at the farmers market. We met some cool people, developed great customer following, and introduced our food to many people. During that time we heard one phrase repeated numerous times “you should open a restaurant!” Most followed with “Your food is so good!”

What we did during the rest of the week when we weren’t at Uptown Farmers Market was make pre-packaged meal prep dishes for customers and delivered them to their homes. Our meal prep business had become very popular by then. Chef Sandra (yep, that’s me) had been cooking vigorously all week, and driving to parts of the valley that I had never even heard of. Sometimes even thinking to myself “why would anyone live out here?” No offense!

I used to drive sometimes up to 50 minutes each way to deliver a meal. When you see our Google reviews, you realize that our customers appreciated both the drive and the flavor that Taza provided.

The rest of the week was dedicated to private personal chef and catering events. We quickly became popular among a group of customers who enjoyed the Taza food in the privacy of their homes and venues. We offered everything from sit-down custom meals to buffet style dishes for them and their guests to enjoy. And they aren’t the only ones who enjoyed this, we did too! The best part of my job was to hear customers express their delight and happiness as they devoured our food. “Mmm, this is so good!” was the best thing to hear after a long hard day of cooking.

As we grew our following, we saw a need for our own commercial kitchen. A place we could call our own. Up to that point, we were renting space at a commercial kitchen where we needed to reserve time to come in and cook.

As we searched for a place that fit our needs, a location became available in Scottsdale. A family was selling their restaurant. We went to see the space and quickly fell in love with the spacious kitchen and the cozy dining room and bar. It was a dream come true. It was the perfect place to continue building the Taza brand where our customers who had been asking us to open a restaurant can finally come in and enjoy our food in a comfortable, laid back and relaxed atmosphere. So where are you? We’ve been waiting for you!

Having a bar was an important piece of making Taza a cohesive food and drink place for our customers to enjoy their food with a glass of wine or one of our signature cocktails (or an ice tea).

Taza Bistro Mediterranean Fusion Came to Be

On October 9, 2021, Taza Bistro was born. We celebrated our grand opening at our brick and mortar location on Hayden Rd in Scottsdale. That was no easy task. We took possession of the keys and 1 week later we were open. That week was composed of cleaning, redecorating, painting, building a menu, obtaining our liquor license, and opening a new restaurant (yeah, that small detail).

Grand opening day was a blast! We got to meet new customers who live in the McCormick Ranch neighborhood. We also were visited by many of our customers who have been fans from our days at the farmers market, meal prep, and personal chef. On opening day, we had a variety of breakfast and brunch menu items to select from including omelets, mimosa, French toast, avocado toast, paninis, salads and of course our signature protein rice bowls.

How we got here

The journey has been a blast and a challenge. We didn’t think we’d ever get there, but here we are. Read how we got started here.

Our Menu Since then, Taza Bistro has been serving the neighborhood with a large variety of Mediterranean Fusion menu options, as well as daily chef specials. Many new customers came in and asked: what is Mediterranean Fusion? So for those of you who are curious what that really means, click here to read about our Mediterranean Fusion dishes. Our menu has expanded quite a bit to include new dishes like our creamy lemon mushroom chicken that has become a hit (seriously! We have a following), and our delicious Cyprus Salmon that regulars have come to love.

Taza also still focuses heavily on our catering business, and we are seeing that side of the business expand as new customers come in to request buffet-style large platters for their parties, or custom dishes for business lunches, or personal chef full service for private dinners. If you’re interested in our catering services, pleases give us a call or send us a request here.

The Long Journey

So we opened a restaurant, now what? From day 1, we have been looking for ways to make our small restaurant stand out. It hasn’t been easy. I just have to tell you about a few staffing stories that will make you laugh.

Trying to find help is not an easy task. I have been a manager for over 15 years and I know a thing or two about managing people. But this is a whole new ball game! One employee wanted to be a waiter and during the slow time, he would sit on his phone or stair outside, instead of helping with areas where we needed help. One day I came up to him and asked “are you bored? Because I’m swamped!” Needless to say, he didn’t last long.

Another employee came in asking for a job in the kitchen. I hired him and on his first day, as I was showing him how we do things and giving him tasks to begin working on, he interrupts me asking to go to his car to get his jacket as he felt cold in the kitchen. After 10 minutes went by, I though, “hmmm, that’s a long time to grab your jacket”, and when he didn’t come back, I went out to the parking lot to realize, to my disbelief, that his car was gone. I guess the kitchen was too cold for him!

Not to mention the prep cook who walked out in the middle of a busy lunch rush, through the front door! Was he offended by my direction? Or the dishwasher who called in sick for days and wouldn’t answer my messages until I called him from a friend’s phone and he answered right away. It was kind of funny to hear him try to come up with an excuse, and his best one was “I was just going to call you.”

What about the prep chef who had years of experience as a manager. He swore up and down that “he’s a professional”, he would give at least 2-weeks notice before moving on. And when he didn’t show up two days in a row, I texted him saying “well, that’s very professional.” To which he replied “Remember how I mentioned my grandfather was sick? He passed away.” One: I don’t remember in his short tenure anything about a grandfather. Two: how many times have you killed off your grandfather to get out of a job?

The worst one that hurt the most was a sous-chef who had been working for several months, during which time I taught him many of my secret recipes, nurtured his growth, treated him like a son (if I had him at 13), and praised him every chance I got. But when it came to discipline or pointing out things to work on, that’s what he focused on. He came in one day to quit, found me on the phone then lashed out at my husband about how terrible a human being I was. That hurts. Probably more than it should. But whatever he needed to say to feel better about how he treated small business owners who welcomed him into the family and made him part of our growth.

And the stories don't stop. To this day we struggle finding good staff for busy days, but we have finally gotten a crew that support our vision and we are happy to call them part of the Taza family.

Taza continues to thrive through it all. Our repeat customers rave about our gourmet dishes and bring their friends in to try our amazing food (their words, not ours). Our 5-star reviews speak for themselves. And we humbly appreciate every positive comment and repeat customer who shows appreciation for the food and support for our small business.

One of our customers said to us recently “grow where you’re rooted” and that saying is sticking with us. We are planning to grow where we are rooted, with the help of loyal customers who believe and support small businesses.

What’s ahead?

Taza Bistro recently celebrated our 2nd birthday, a big milestone in the restaurant business! Can you believe it? Because we can’t! Two years ago this concept and dream became a reality. So we want to thank all our patrons and supporters because without you, we wouldn’t be here.

If you've been coming in regularly, you would know that we have made some major changes recently: (1) We remodeled the interior and exterior of our restaurant (2) We built a brand new website, (3) We updated our menu, and (4) We bring you entertaining and delicious Travel The Mediterranean Events.

So if you haven't lately, come in and see us, taste our delicious food and see what we've been up to. Reserve your table here.

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