Newsletter Archive: Your Pre-Bubble Antideluvian Steakhouse
Monti’s Steak-O-Gram October 2008
Hello again, friends and customers! I am back for the month of October, looking forward to the most frighteningI can think of in decades–I am referring of course, to the economy and the election…and having five kids to buy costumes for. (Remember when we all thought it was fun to MAKE our costumes at home?) October is always a special month at Monti’s, as it harkens back to the days before air-conditioning, or even electric fans for that matter, when anyone with a dollar to their name would split for the coast or the mountains, and those who stayed in town were too stricken with heat-induced torpor to dine out. So it made no sense to run a restaurant, and the Hayden daughters would shut down for the summer. Then, each October there would be a grand re-opening, with live music. Today, in our lobby, you can still see some of the postcards that were sent to regular customers to invite them to the festivities. In this case, the examples are from the Fall of 1930.
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Mill Avenue District Update:
The Tempe Union High School Homecoming Parade will get assembled in our parking lot at 1pm on Friday, Oct 31st, and launch southward along Mill Avenue. So if you have some time, turn out and support the school.
Storm damage: I am pleased to announce, as a followup to my last missive, that our historic billboard has been resurrected at last. I still wish I could have put back my Dad’s charicature.
On another bright note, on October 11th the American Planning Association recognized Mill Avenue as one of the “10 Great Streets for 2008 through its Great Places in America program.
Finally, take note that the Light Rail system will begin running on December 28th, and they may allow riders to ride free for the first five days. So plan on coming down here to try it out.
You know, I hear so much about “Lawrence Welk was crazy about them. They ought to call it a “blister”. Blisters are painful and inconvenient, usually caused by excess friction or getting burned–sort of like what happened in the financial system with liar loans and ninja mortgages–and you can’t wait until they heal up and go away. I make this point because Monti’s, and in earlier incarnations as the Hayden House/La Casa Vieja, has been around so long that this is nothing new, just something to ride out. We have seen the Copper Bubble of the 1870s, the S&L Bubble of the 1980s. (I suppose we could reach back even further to the Anasazi/Hohokam bubble a thousand years ago, or so.) Even on the small-grain focus of Mill Avenue there has been a succession of booms and busts: The Mill Shops, orinally built by Michael Goodwin, set the tone for all of Downtown Tempe’s red brick sidewalks, but was not initially a financial success. It was originally home to Changing Hands Book Store and Mike Pulos’ Spaghetti Company back in the 1970s. Then came C.W. Jackson’s “Mercado Del Rio”, a very ambitious retail and office development that surrounded Monti’s on what is now land being developed by US Airways. Those shops never filled up (dust and cobwebs abounded), as it was the right idea executed about ten years too early. Only the budding was able to revive the complex by using the space as its headquarters.” these days. In fact, why do they call it a “bubble”? Bubbles are fun: my little kids love them, and
Through all of this we have been here. And in times like these (seamless commercial segue) it is important to remember that we have always endeavored to offer the best value possible. So I would like to take the opportunity now to refresh your memory regarding our hoary and venerable Weekly Specials on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, for just $11.99.
MONDAY: 7oz Filet Mignon
TUESDAY: Pork Chop Dinner (2 Chops)
WEDNESDAY: 8oz Sirloin Steak
The specials are served after three p.m. They are complete meals, with Roman Bread and a choice of two sides, or a salad and a side.
Now, having discussed the really terrifying stuff, let’s talk about my favorite holiday, Halloween. Monti’s La Casa Vieja happens to be the oldest continuously-occupied structure in the Salt River Valley. Over the years, staff, visitors and some managers have occasionally told tales of apparitions and voices. Consequently, every year at this time, people come out of the woodwork with questions about ghosts and hauntings. Sometimes organized groups of investigators ask permission to stay overnight in our building to look for phantoms. After calculating the odds as to whether I will wind up trussed in duct tape in the walk-in freezer while a given group searches the safe for the shades of Washington and Franklin, I have sometimes spent evenings with sincere hobbyists trying to find evidence of the paranormal. This year was no different than others, and a group called the West Coast Ghost and Paranormal Society (GAPS) showed up asking to poke around. However, on this occasion my wife was very close to her due date for our daughter (born two weeks ago!), so in my place stayed the stalwart and acerbic manager Dan Klein. This particular investigation lasted until 5:30 a.m. So, when you next see the always-professional if not-too-cheerful Dan, give him a pat on the back for his long stay in favor of ghost research.
Not long after the GAPS overnighter I was interviewed regarding my reaction to their findings. This promises to be a fun segment, and it will be broadcast on Fox10 News on Halloween at 9pm. So please watch while you are sifting through your kneebiters’ goodie bags and let me know what you think.
Finally, please come and see our Reg Manning Room. (Formerly known as “The Juice Room”.) We came into posession of a number of prints and some memorabilia connected with this legendary and Pulitzer Prize-winningpolitical cartoonist, and have put the material on display. If you grew up here and are at least 40, you will remember the many cartoons featerued in the and over a 50-year span–always signed with a little humanoid saguaro cactus with a big nose. We are proud to keep another little piece of true Arizona character and tradition alive ina corner of the restaurant.
With that I bid you and your families a happy and safe Halloween. Please also be sure and do your civic duty and vote.
We look forward to seeing you soon–and often–at Monti’s La Casa Vieja.
(For more updates, variety, photos and intersting links see my BLOG: michaelmontiDOTwordpressDOTcom)
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Monti’s La Casa Vieja Restaurant & Catering