For about 10 years, Matt and Courtney Diamond have envisioned owning their own restaurant. With a background in restaurant management, Matt dreamed of bringing experience and creativity to the business while Courtney would use her accounting knowledge to crunch numbers.

On January 18, the couple introduced the product of their dreams to Downtown Phoenix in the form of The Main Ingredient Ale House & Café, located in the 1939 bungalow that previously housed Lisa G Wine Bar & Café.

Matt and Courtney Diamond made some subtle changes to the building, giving it added warmth. Photo by Si Robins.

The menu, which has absolutely nothing over $10 except for bottles of wine, primarily consists of sandwiches and salads that Matt describes as simple, yet very fresh.

“If you’re going to do sandwiches and salads, they have to be fresh,” Matt says. “It’s got to taste like it’s right out of the garden.” Matt explains that he orders small quantities of the ingredients every day to ensure freshness.

The Main Ingredient’s menu includes several family recipes, such as Mindy’s Mac ‘n Cheese, named after the dish prepared by Matt’s sister every Thanksgiving and Christmas. The macaroni is baked and loaded with cheddar cheese and green chilies. The salsa on the menu is also a recipe of Mindy’s.

Although it is an ale house and there are eight different types of beer on tap (plus many more in bottles), The Main Ingredient has an inexpensive wine list that the owners consider to be almost as important as the beer. The food is meant to complement both, and mixed drinks can be ordered as well.

Matt and Courtney’s menu also incorporates many products from local vendors that they are trying to support. Their dessert list features items from the Arizona Cheesecake Company in Chandler and Crave Artisan Ice Cream in Phoenix, their sandwiches and salads are made with tomatoes that are grown in Queen Creek at One Windmill Farm and their bread is from Capistrano’s in Tempe. The restaurant serves beer from Tempe-based Four Peaks Brewery and water from mountain springs in Sedona that is bottled up by the family-owned Arizona Bottled H20.

Speaking of aiding the locals, Courtney says she and Matt hope the restaurant will become a neighborhood spot.

“Our number one priority is to fit into the community and appeal to the Coronado district,” she says. “We want this to be their neighborhood bar.”

Courtney says the people in the neighborhood are supportive of the restaurant, and she described the area as having “a lot of soul,” which is something that is incredibly important to her and Matt.

“We feel strongly that the main ingredient of a restaurant is the soul of the restaurant,” Matt says. “It’s either there or it’s not.”

Matt adds that the building already had the soul they were looking for. During their search for a place to open their restaurant, they hoped to find a red brick, free-standing building with a patio and a place to park.

“We were willing to compromise on (the red brick) if we could get the other things, but when this place had everything we wanted, we just fell in love,” Courtney says. Not only are some of the couple’s favorite restaurants in red brick buildings, such as Pizzeria Bianco in Downtown Phoenix, but they also both grew up in red brick houses.

Considering their likes and dislikes about other restaurants for inspiration, the duo decided to make the restaurant into a spot that where would enjoy hanging out. They wanted a place that feels like home to their customers. Since the building is already an old house complete with a fireplace, the Diamonds only had to add a few things to enhance the home-like atmosphere, including a couch they bought on impulse that fit perfectly without any measurements, a coffee table, a few flower centerpieces, photographs and artwork. “It’s almost like the house itself did the work for us,” Matt says.

Another thing that is important to Matt and Courtney is that they be present at the restaurant as often as possible. “We really notice the difference when we go into places where the owners are there and they’re greeting you and serving you, and making sure everything is up to their standards,” Courtney explains.

“This is the dream job,” she adds. “I’ m working somewhere that I want to be. It’s everything that I love and everything I’m passionate about.”

The Main Ingredient Ale House and Café is located at 2337 N. 7th St. in Coronado — 602.THE.MAIN.