A neighborhood oasis in the North 32nd community
At less than 2000 square feet, 32 Shea is smaller than many area homes. Yet since opening in 2011, the restaurant has brought a constant buzz of activity to the 32nd St and Shea intersection that it’s named for. What is it that makes this small but mighty oasis in the middle of the Paradise Hills Shopping Center a beloved gem to so many people?
“32 Shea is a hub for the community because we belong to the community,” said General Manager, Karyn Ellsworth. When the restaurant took over the space that was home to a photo mat in the 1980’s, there wasn’t much else around. 32 Shea was part of the effort to reverse that and restore the North 32nd neighborhood to the vibrant area it once was by giving residents a place to call their own.
Besides creating a feeling of localism and community, what truly sets 32 Shea apart is its “flex concept” as both a daytime counter-service café and nighttime full-service restaurant that allows locals to visit multiple times in a day.
32 Shea opens at 6 a.m. as a hip, indie coffee shop serving up handcrafted espresso drinks, breakfast, and lunch. The hustle is real as orders are taken at the counter and guests grab their Rosemary-Honey Lattes or New Mexico Breakfast Burritos from the reclaimed wood bar. A drive-thru window serves quality food and beverages to those pressed for time. At 4 p.m. baristas trade spaces behind that same bar with mixologists who shake up creative libations like the Mint Lemon Drop Martini. Guests are seated and presented with dinner menus featuring inventive entrees like Lobster Mac-N-Cheese. Candle lit tables and Eastern-inspired lanterns glow on the zen patio as a trendy restaurant takes over until 10 p.m. At sunrise the patio is reset, the proprietary blend of local Matador coffee brews, and 32 Shea is once again an urban café.
“Every day is new, exciting and different,” explained Ellsworth. “Our guests are doctors, teachers, moms, coaches, police officers, postal workers. They are young and old, men and women, liberal and conservative. Some live around the corner and we see them every day. Others live across the Valley, and travel miles to see us every chance they get.”
Just walk onto the lush, dog-friendly patio and you’ll see co-workers, freelancers, families, pet parents, students, retirees… even a birthday happy hour. Underneath the conversation is the relaxing sound of the zen garden fountain behind a large stone Buddha statue. The patio is home to community gatherings like Music Together, Puff & Fluff Bath & Brush, the North 32nd Home Tour, and more. With large trees providing a natural canopy and misters, the patio is even occupied during the summer. Many neighborhood events begin and end at 32 Shea, like the start of the annual North 32nd Community Bike Ride or the after-party for Lighthouse Theater’s Chaos Comedy Improv. No wonder it’s known as the neighborhood oasis!
“Part of what has helped shape this area,” noted owner Bill Toole, “is the collaboration of local businesses. Instead of being in competition, we support one another.” You’ll see 32 Shea’s coffee and muffins every Thursday at Black Rock Bouldering Gym. They donate meals to The Joy Bus to nourish those undergoing cancer treatments. DIY studio Craft Nights will soon co-host an evening of locally-themed crafting on the patio. These are just a few examples of the numerous local partnerships that 32 Shea has forged since 2011.
Staying local is always a priority, and 32 Shea uses local suppliers whenever possible. Sandwiches are served on bread from AZ Bread Company or Gluten Free Creations. Locally-brewed All About the Booch kombucha is a popular recent addition. Arizona craft beer from Huss Brewery, Mother Road Brewing, and other local breweries are just $4 during 32 Shea’s 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. 12-Hour Happy Hour. 6 a.m. might be a little early to enjoy a glass of $5 Happy Hour wine for some, but don’t worry! Grab your morning caffeine fix and come back later for that wine or a $6 Happy Hour mixology cocktail. Coffee ‘til cocktails isn’t just a popular Instagram graphic, it’s a reality at 32 Shea!
And the menu? Let’s just say it’s all really, really good! From the Nutella-based Yummy Yummy In My Tummy at breakfast to the prosciutto, Mascarpone, honey and fig OMG Sandwich at lunch to the Slow-Braised Short Ribs at dinner, it seems like every item on the menu at 32 Shea has its own fan club. The evenings offer creatively fun rotating weekly specials, like a White Truffle Burger with Bacon Onion Compote and a Raspberry Oreo Shake on Wednesday’s popular Burger-N-Shake Night. Tuesday’s $20 Bottle & Bruschetta special has a loyal following, showcasing both the restaurant’s boutique wine list and bruschetta that is among the best in the Valley. One can easily argue that 32 Shea is most famous for its ingenious use of Nutella. The house made Nutella syrup makes memorably delicious Nutella Mochas, Nutella Banana Danishes, Nutella Espresso Martinis, and Nutella Cheesecake.
What’s ahead for 32 Shea? An extensive remodel before Summer 2019! “We’re always focused on ways to enhance our guests’ experiences at 32 Shea,” explained Toole, “so we’re going to double down on what they already love about us, our patio, interior, menu, and convenience, and make them even better.” Look for an upgraded patio that will radiate even more zen and more outlets for those who like to make 32 Shea their office. A remodeled interior will create a bit more space and include refreshed eclectic and inspiring décor. Guest convenience will be key and online mobile ordering will allow those in a hurry to order directly from their devices. The drive thru will have extended hours past 4 p.m. – perfect for when the real heat sets in!
The restaurant will continue to rotate local and seasonal beer and wine, and the team has been testing new craft cocktails to join current guest favorites. You may also see a few new menu entrees inspired by guest suggestions and the current foodie scene.
“Look for 32 Shea to continue to be in touch with and remain the pulse of the North 32nd neighborhood, said Toole. “We’re local ourselves and proud to serve the city we call home.”
Whether it’s a meeting place, a rendezvous, a study hall, or an office. A safe place, a chill place, or a place to gab. A first date, a family visit, or night with friends. Before school, after a hike, during your lunch break, or when you need a mental break. No matter what time of day, it’s your 32 Shea.