South Chandler pub owner marries - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

South Chandler pub owner marries

May 14th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
South Chandler pub owner marries

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Jackson Armstrong said he wanted no part of being on the Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible” in 2020, but agreed because his managers thought it would bring more diners to their South Chandler restaurant.

Armstrong, the co-owner of Ginger Monkey GastroPub at Arizona Avenue and Ocotillo Road, gave the TV show one of its signature moments: He proposed marriage to longtime girlfriend Monique Hughes at the end of that broadcast.

Fast forward nearly two years later: They were finally able to exchange their vows. They got married April 29 in San Diego and show host Robert Irvin married them.

The wedding was delayed, in part, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They wanted to wait until it was safe to bring family and friends together for the ceremony.

“It’s a party,” Monique said before the wedding took place. “We’re actually having the wedding and reception at the same location, and the venue is beautiful. We’re kind of making it more of a festive wedding, and not the traditional ceremony.”

She said a lot of people from Chandler were planning to attend because the restaurant has always done a lot for the community. In fact, that is one of the reasons Restaurant Impossible chose them for a show: they continued to give back even when they were struggling.

“I didn’t want to do it,” Armstrong said about being asked to be part of the show. “At first I said no. They gave us another 24 hours to try and figure it out, and they said we have a billion viewers so you really need to do this.

“I was worried because this is television, and television is manipulation to the way they want to show things.”

He said the reality of the show is just what you see in that broadcast that aired in June 2020.

Unfortunately for Armstrong and his restaurant, the timing of the show did not give them the boost they were hoping for. It was filmed in late February, just before the pandemic was declared and the world stopped going out to eat.

“It kind of hurt us because you get a big pop from when you do it,” Armstrong said. “People come in … they know that something happened, and they want to see the changes … even before the show airs, because the show takes four months to air.

“They want to see the transformation, and we were closed for three months.”

Once the show did air, he said they did see an increase in business. However, it was summer and they rely on snowbirds. And the pandemic was still underway.

“We did get a little bit of a pop, but people were still scared to go out,” he said. “It took another six months before that actually filtered out a little bit.”

Restaurant Impossible returned for a revisit to Ginger Monkey in an episode that aired last month. Armstrong said he and Irvin have become friends.

“We definitely talk a lot,” Armstrong said. “A few times a week.”

He said they’ve asked them to appear on other shows in San Diego and Colorado, and they happily agreed.

“We were more than happy to pay it forward, because what they did for us was amazing, so we just wanted to be a part of that.”

Still, the wedding proposal remains one of the top moments in the show’s history. Armstrong said it wasn’t planned, adding Irvin didn’t know it was about to happen.

“That was not their idea at all,” he said. “Just the executive producer knew about it, and he found out about it about five minutes before I did that.”