Phoenix’s restaurant industry has been booming in the last few years. In 2017, The Guardian declared the city as “a foodie oasis in the Arizona desert” due to its diverse food scene. The city has become an incubator for chefs who have been experimenting with southwestern US, Mexican, and Native American cuisines to create exciting new dining concepts. So much so that the industry has become a strong driving force of economic growth in the state, with over 9,000 establishments employing more than 220,000 workers. Couple that culinary fusion energy with Arizona’s business-friendly environment and diverse population, and it’s no surprise that Phoenix has become an inviting location for aspiring restaurateurs and restaurant developers.
The city is also home to some of the most aesthetically-pleasing and “instagrammable” dining spots in Arizona. To compete in this industry, entrants should, of course, consider the quality of their food, but the ambiance and design could be the factor that makes or breaks the venture. These days, finding the right contractor has become a key step in opening a restaurant. To help you in this process, we have selected 15 of the best construction firms who have experience in building in the city. They have been evaluated based on the portfolios, awards, and recognition that they have received from the media.
15) Princeton Construction
Website | 602-603-1102 | 4112 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85018
Princeton Construction is an up-and-coming boutique general contracting firm that serves clients in the healthcare, retail, and restaurant sectors of Arizona. The firm was founded by Chris Hall in 2011, after 16 years of work experience with large general contractors in Arizona. With Chris at the helm, the firm works closely with clients to create spaces that meet specific designs and strict budgets.
In 2013, the firm was hired by Fox Restaurant Concepts to build the Blanco Tacos + Tequila at the Biltmore Fashion Park. The restaurant follows a hip cantina theme, with suspended antique Edison bulbs and a mix of light-stained and dark-stained wood. The firm also installed a walk-up window that faces the fashion park’s courtyard, allowing shoppers to order on-the-go meals from the restaurant.
14) Shrader & Martinez Construction
Website | 928-282-7554 | 160 Dry Creek Rd., Sedona, AZ 86336
For over three decades, Shrader & Martinez has been offering its expertise in construction, design, and project management to clients in Arizona. It was founded in 1986 by Scott Shrader and Ronald Martinez and was acquired in 2018 by Minnesota-based Elder-Jones General Contractor. Today, it is headed by Justin Elder, who expanded the company’s services to cater to a wider market. His expertise in construction is recognized in the commercial industry, especially due to his position on the Board of Directors of the Retail Contractors Association.
The firm is behind the iconic Sam Fox restaurant concept, The Henry. It was built in collaboration with award-winning design firms: CMDA design bureau and Testani Design Troupe. Following the eclectic mix of industrial and urban design, Shrader & Martinez Construction used aged materials like naturally patinated tiles, white oak, and warm woods. The restaurant’s double height space and expansive windows add a modern architecture element that serves as a canvass for eccentric chandeliers and elegant drapery.
13) PWI Construction
Website | 800-920-9966 | 5725 N Scottsdale Rd. Suite C-135, Scottsdale, AZ 85250
PWI Construction is an award-winning restaurant contractor that was established in Mesa, Arizona in 1985 by businessman Jeff Price. Through his business acumen, the firm grew into a national construction firm with offices in Texas, Florida, and Nevada. Licensed in all states, the firm has built outstanding restaurants across the country, with some projects being featured in Eater, Phoenix Business Journal, and Hotel Business Magazine.
One of its best works is Paul Martin’s American Grill, which is a dining concept from famed restaurateur Paul Fleming. The restaurant’s design is timeless, employing wood and cement finishes throughout. Guests enjoy classic American dinners under warm light, care of the custom drum pendant chandeliers. Indoor and outdoor dining areas are also separated by expansive multi-slide windows that let in natural light during the day.
12) Genova-Detwiler Custom Builders
Website | 602-368-8582 | 4650 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85018
Genova-Detwiler Custom Builders, previously known as Venue Builders, is known in Phoenix as one of the city’s outstanding builders of hospitality environments. The firm is led by two of the best luxury custom builders in Arizona: Aaron Genova and Cal Detwiler, both graduates of the renowned Del E Webb School of Construction of Arizona University. Genova is also a LEED Accredited Professional, which allows the company to work on projects that emphasize sustainability and minimize environmental impact.
In 2016, the firm completed Pomelo Restaurant, a full-service neighborhood restaurant located along the Citrus Belt of Arizona. Genova-Detwiler Custom Builders converted a 1920s home into the 4,876 square foot straightforward American dining concept. It maintained the space’s original brick fireplace and woodwork, while also adding new design elements that complement the old. The firm installed new mosaic tiles, bespoke stained glass dividers, and a vintage chandelier for a touch of whimsy.
11) Sletten Companies
Website | 602-273-1474 | 2501 East University, Phoenix, AZ 85034
Sletten Companies began as a basement-headquartered construction business in 1928. It was founded by John Sletten, who slowly expanded the firm’s services from its initial light commercial construction and remodeling services. In 1972, Sletten opened new offices in two states—one in Arizona, one in Wyoming—allowing the company to accept large-scale projects and extend its reach to bigger cities. Since then, the firm has been featured in Engineering News-Record and AZ Big Media.
Sletten’s team is behind the construction of the trendy Found: Re Hotel’s dining concept, Match Restaurant and Lounge. It was designed to mirror the hotel’s aesthetic: upscale industrial with modern and sleek finishes. The firm used raw cement finishes, exposed metal girders, and colored LED lights to create its trademark trendy urban vibe.
10) A.R. Mays Construction
Website | 480-850-6900 | 6900 E. Indian School Rd. Suite #200, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
For over three decades, A.R. Mays Construction has been offering commercial construction services throughout the Southwest. It specializes in building for the restaurant and hospitality sectors but also serves clients in the automotive, education, and entertainment markets. Its expertise was recently recognized by AZ Big Media with AZRE Red Awards in 2018 and 2016. The firm is also a recipient of a Gold Nugget Award from the Leading Builders of America’s PCBC trade show.
The firm’s award-winning portfolio has attracted high-profile clients, including Chicago-based Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. In 2016, it was trusted by the owners to build its first out-of-state location at the Uptown Plaza in Phoenix. The restaurant, which offers nearly 300 seats for diners, keeps up with the plaza’s mid-century aesthetic. A.R. Mays Construction used a contrast between black and white subway tiles and brick masonry as a base for the restaurant’s design. That base serves as a fitting background for the marquee lights and multiple pendant lights that hang from the exposed ceiling.
9) UEB Builders
Website | 480-222-9103 | 3080 N Civic Center Plaza Suite #100, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
UEB Builders is an award-winning general contracting firm that specializes in building design-conscious, sustainable projects for national clients. With offices in Arizona and Texas, the firm’s team of award-winning architecture and construction professionals has been delivering outstanding projects in the commercial industry. In 2018, it received two accolades from the industry: an AZRE Red Award from AZ Big Media, and a Gold Nugget Award from PCBC.
Among the firm’s best work is The Mission, a sophisticated Latin restaurant that showcases a menu that blends cuisines from Spain, Mexico, and Central and South America. The restaurant’s aesthetic reflects this infusion of cultures through the combination of modern design with old world charm. UEB Builders used concrete for the walls which contrast nicely with the elegantly patterned tile and dark-stained wood flooring. The Mission’s exterior also shines, enticing guests with an illuminated Himalayan salt block wall.
8) Javcon General Contractors
Website | 602-957-7175 | 4340 E Indian School Rd. Suite #21-592, Phoenix, AZ 85018
Anthony Vetter founded Javcon General Contractors in 1993 after four decades of work experience in the construction industry. Under his direction, the firm specializes in building commercial projects but also accepts healthcare, hospitality, and retail projects.
In 2015, the firm won a RED Award for Best Retail Project for its construction of The Marketplace at Lincoln & Scottsdale. Part of the project is the construction of SumoMaya Mexican Asian Kitchen, done in collaboration with PHX Architecture. Javcon General Contractors shaped the restaurant into a contemporary dining space that features a wood lattice ceiling, hand-crafted Spanish deco tiles, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls.
Website | 602.956.1323 | 9440 N 26th St., Phoenix, AZ 85028
Phoenix Business Journal listed Wespac as the 4th Largest General Contractor in Arizona, based on volume. The firm offers an array of construction and pre-construction services in the education, hospitality, retail, and restaurant sectors, among others. It is led by CEO John Largay, whose resume boasts 30 years of experience with the company. He has worked on several key projects for Wespac, one of which is $200 million worth of improvements on the Phoenix Plaza.
The firm is behind the construction of iconic dining places throughout Arizona. It was the general contractor for Cornish Pasty, which involved transforming an old laundromat into a bar and restaurant. They also constructed Salt—the largest tequila bar in the state. The firm’s portfolio showcases the firm’s ability to work on projects that require specific styles within a range of budgets.
6) Desert Viking
Website | 480-999-4935 | 3260 N Hayden Rd. Suite 201 Scottsdale, AZ 85251
In 1997, Niels Kriepke founded Desert Viking to focus on property development, design-build management, and rehabilitation. Over the years, Kriepke has successfully built the firm’s reputation as one of the best historic preservationists of Arizona. It has rehabilitated 20 National Register Historic properties and has won heritage preservation awards.
Among its award-winning projects is Modern Margarita, a hip Mexican dining concept from the Mill Avenue Management Group. Its construction involved renovating the old Sprouse-Reitz building to accommodate the requirements of the restaurant. Desert Viking converted the space into a contemporary Mexican cantina through custom deco tiles and differently stained wood panels for the floor and walls. A portion of the ceiling is finished with textured gray tiles, contrasting nicely with the vibrant greens that dominate the space.
5) W.E. O’Neil Construction
Website | 480-921-8000 | 4511 E. Kerby Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85040
W.E. O’Neil Construction is a general contracting firm that has worked with several high-profile clients in Arizona, Illinois, California, and Tennessee. Since its founding date in 1925, the firm has won a number of awards and gained quite a bit of recognition. Most recently it ranked #17 in Building Design + Construction’s Top 115 Contractors List. Its focus on building relationships with clients has provided the foundation for its success, with 80% of its clients coming from repeat clients.
The firm’s portfolio of restaurant work highlights its ability to work on any project, regardless of style and budget. In Arizona, it was hired by Fox Restaurant Concepts to build the North Italia location in La Encantada. The 5,600 square foot space was featured in the November and December issues of the Source and Design Magazine. W.E. O’Neil Construction built event spaces, an indoor and outdoor bar, and an open-concept kitchen.
4) The Construction Zone
Website | 602-230-0383 | 1729 E Osborn Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016
Andy Byrnes founded The Construction Zone in 1992, shortly after obtaining his Master’s degree in Architecture. The company initially offered only residential construction, but quickly expanded to multifamily and commercial construction. It specializes in the design/build approach, which has earned it features from Architect Magazine, The Business Journals, and Luxe Interiors + Design.
In 2008, it completed the construction of Tuck Shop Kitchen and Bar, an intimate casual-dining restaurant that offers American comfort food. Tucked away in the historic Coronado neighborhood, its exterior is unassuming and appears to be a one-story home. However, the interiors of the micro-sized dining spot tell a different story—The Construction Zone took the time to create a sophisticated space within the limited 865 square foot area. The firm stuck to classic materials and finishes like wood, concrete, and white paint. The simplicity allows the restaurant’s curated paintings to shine.
3) Symmetry Construction
Website | 602-595-6772 | 7201 N Dreamy Draw Dr. Suite #125, Phoenix, AZ 85020
Founded just six years ago, Symmetry Construction quickly made a mark in Phoenix’s construction industry through the award-winning projects that it has been delivering to its clients. Owner Jason Boysel has successfully used his 17-years of experience to direct the firm into becoming one of the city’s best restaurant builders.
In 2018, the firm won an Interior Architecture Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for its outstanding work on the Tempe location of NYPD Pizza. Symmetry Construction followed a modern industrial theme and found creative uses for ordinary materials. The firm created visual interest through experimenting with pizza cutting boards as ceiling decor. A white bar also sits smack in the middle, contrasting well with the polished concrete floor.
2) LGE Design Build
Website |480-966-4001 | 1200 N. 52nd St, Phoenix, AZ 85008
David R. Sellers founded LGE Design Build based on his vision of streamlining the design and construction processes for his clients. Initially, the company focused on building small industrial structures within the city, but its operations quickly expanded to accommodate projects that are valued at over $50 million. By being consistent with his vision, Sellers has grown the company into the Southwest’s only large-scale commercial general contractor that offers design and construction under the same roof.
In 2014, the firm remodeled a 1978 chophouse into an urban steakhouse named Steak 44. LGE Design Build implemented an upscale motif throughout the 8,421 square foot space. It features lowered ceilings with trims and accent details, creating a relaxed but intimate vibe for diners. The hardwood floor follows a basket weave pattern, blending perfectly with the luxe museum white walls throughout the restaurant. The firm also built a bar and lounge area that provides a more informal setting for guests who are looking for a place to unwind.
1) Hardison/Downey Construction
Website | 602-861-0044 | 6150 N 16th Street, Suite A Phoenix, AZ 85016
In the spring of 1985, Hardison/Downey Construction opened in Phoenix to cater to clients in the commercial and community living markets. Today, the firm is recognized in the construction industry as one of the Southwest’s best, having received the General Contractor of the Year award from the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) in 2017. In the same year, the firm also bagged an Honorable Mention from the restaurant development + design’s rd+d Awards for its renovation of a 1960’s shopping center into a modern Shake Shack.
Prime Steak Concepts chose Hardison/Downey Construction to build its free-standing seafood concept, Ocean 44, in 2017. The restaurant has figured prominently in several media outlets, including USA Today’s AZCentral, Eater, and The Business Journals because of its luxury food fare, but also because of its swanky semi-coastal design. Located in the high-profile Goldwater Boulevard, the restaurant stands out for its elegant finishes. Escher-like fish scale patterns clad a portion of the restaurant’s exterior, hinting at the interior’s chic contemporary theme. Golden tube pendant lights cascade from the high ceiling, contrasting with the high-end finishes throughout the space. The restaurant features an open concept kitchen, indoor dining areas, and a luxurious interior courtyard.