S. Chandler restaurant overcomes fire, reopens - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

S. Chandler restaurant overcomes fire, reopens

September 30th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
S. Chandler restaurant overcomes fire, reopens

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

The first attempt to open a Modern Margarita restaurant and bar in Chandler started off well, but went down in flames.


“I was there that day,” said Kyle Mason, the restaurant’s vice president of operations. “I was in the office doing some admin work, I’m smelling something. And I thought it was an electrical fire. … I’m sniffing around and all of a sudden, the backdoor kicks in, it’s Chandler Fire Department, ‘Get out, get out.’ We’re like, what?”

That was in May 2018, when Modern Margarita was celebrating one year of being in operation in Downtown Chandler.

Four years later they have finally reopened in the city, this one in South Chandler, near Ocotillo and Gilbert roads. The new location held its grand opening earlier this month.

Mason said the cause of the downtown fire was never definitively determined, but they suspect it started in the pizza oven. At the time, they were a dual concept restaurant, with Modern Margarita and La Bocca Urban Kitchen shared the space that is now operated by The Uncommon at the corner of Boston and Arizona.

“It was a complete loss at the end of the day, from not only the fire, but the water issue that they had,” Mason said. “Because it was crazy.”

Mason said in the restaurant business there are many factors that determine if you will be a success or not. Location, good food and service are all important. So is luck.

He said it was lucky for them they did not try and reopen the restaurant quickly.

“If we did reopen, what would have happened 18 months later down the road?” he asked. “A pandemic. So we were very fortunate that we didn’t reopen. And here we are today.”
Mason describes Modern Margarita as a place where you can go to get craft cocktails, without the long wait you usually find at craft bars.

“I don’t want to say we’re a craft cocktail bar or anything like that,” he said. “But when you come in here, you will get a craft margarita, but without the time. We try to make everything fast. I’ve been to several craft cocktail bars. I’ve been a craft mixologist before as well. So I know that you sometimes sit at an establishment and you’re waiting 5, 6, 7 minutes for a cocktail.”

On the food side, they try to keep it simple. Most of the focus is on tacos. They just give it a modern update.

“We’re not your traditional Mexican, authentic cuisine that you would go to see … unlimited chips and salsa coming out the wazoo. We really focus on a creative aspect, or modern aspect, to the traditional taco. [For example,] using Korean beef as a short rib. We’re using a Nashville hot chicken right now in a taco. So we’re just trying to infuse a little bit of fusion and at the same time have different culinary aspects.”

This is the second Modern Margarita location in the Valley, joining the one in CityNorth in Phoenix.

Mason said since both locations are doing well, they do plan to expand.

“I would like to go to the west side,” Mason said. “Goodyear, that kind of area. The residential growth is substantial out there. And there’s not a lot of options for people either.”
In addition to expanding in the Valley, Mason said they may also look to other states, mentioning Texas as a possibility.

One thing you won’t find at a Modern Margarita, however, is a pizza oven. Mason said they’ve given that up.

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