Source: AZCentral

At a time when the recession is taking a toll on Valley restaurants, a hugely ambitious dining project is coming to downtown Phoenix. An acclaimed Scottsdale chef and his partners have finalized a deal for a five-restaurant complex.

Bernie Kantak, who for a decade has kept Cowboy Ciao in the foodie spotlight, will house his one-of-a-kind restaurants at 246 S. First St., on the northwestern corner of Jackson Street.

Why downtown? He’s attracted by lower rents — about half of what he would pay in Old Town Scottsdale, Kantak says — as well as the belief that the area is poised to flourish when the economy turns around.

For more than two decades, Phoenix has been trying to get real nightlife in the heart of the city, and a critical restaurant mass may finally be developing.

Kantak joins two other high-profile chefs who have recently located downtown. Wade Moises left Sassi, a high-end Scottsdale Italian restaurant, to open the Pasta Bar, and Matt Carter (Zinc Bistro, the Mission), is widening his scope with Nine05, a modern Asian restaurant, and Canteen, a gastropub.

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