San Felipe’s undergoes renovations and changes
By: Devontae Browne
Located in historic downtown, San Felipe’s restaurant and cantina has been a Flagstaff Mexican food staple since 1991. However, new management is looking to remake the restaurant into what they claim was its former glorious self.
This summer, they began renovating the bar and restaurant — which they claim was dimly lit — with vibrant decorations.
Michael Palmer, the new general manager of the restaurant, and his partner, Anthony Terbush, the associate general manager, were hired to take on the remodeling of San Felipe’s by Jim Gray, the owner of the establishment, who is a close friend. They hope to reignite the bar’s popular energy and turn it back into a downtown dancing hub.
“Well, the current image — from what I understood and my research showed — was that it was a nightclub,” Palmer said. “It was run down and it had a lot of problems. It was not very well taken in the community; my goal and Anthony’s goal, along with the owner, was to bring it back 10 years when it was in its heyday.”
Both Palmer and Terbush agreed on some necessary changes needed to bring back the identity of the old San Felipe’s.
“[We used] what we like to call lipstick and makeup,” Terbush said. “When we closed down, we decided that we wanted to freshen the place up. The service, the food and just getting everything back to a quality that is acceptable as above standard in the industry.”
Palmer said San Felipe’s is changing and moving in a new direction that will continue to be well-respected and dignified with a certain ambiance.
“The direction we are going in is to focus on customer service, family and the restaurant,” Palmer said. “We’re focusing on the food, a new attitude and an overall great atmosphere of fun — just a crazy, stupid place to go hang out and have a good time, no matter what time of day it is.”
However, Terbush said the restaurant is not afraid to embrace what it is: a place for people to get crazy and dance.
“We do dancing every night, we have rock ‘n’ roll fun with people on the bar dancing,” Terbush said. “You know, just that crazy place to be — bringing that image back of the original concepts and idea of what this place was designed to be.”
Palmer and Terbush said they felt of-age college students will enjoy the new atmosphere at the cantina.
“We are primarily a restaurant that has dancing and upbeat energy in an exciting renewed atmosphere,” Palmer said. “The dancing and late night is a secondary thing to us. We want to do that for the college students to have a place to go and finish the night or even come in early. We have a new drink specials, we have delectable Mexican food and we just want people to know that we are a restaurant and a bar that creates enjoyable moments and memories.”
Lessie Desiree-Lorenza Hendrix, a hotel and restaurant management major at NAU, said the food and service was very high quality and appreciated the service.
“The food was beyond what I expected and the servers genuinely care about the food they serve,” she said. “The music played here is something I can dance to at any time of the day.”