After sitting empty for several years, the former Main Street Grille will reopen as the Journigan House on Labor Day weekend.
New owners are injecting fresh life and style into the historic building and bringing some Creole flare to the food.
Corey Johnson bought the space in late June and quickly set contractors to work. Renovations are still ongoing with workers painting the exterior and a cook hard at work cleaning the kitchen.
When finished, Johnson plans to unveil a steak and seafood restaurant that specializes in Creole dishes. Executive chef Derrick-Michael Williams will deliver the heat. Williams, a New Orleans native, once owned a restaurant in New Orleans, and said he is excited to spice up Rim Country.
Williams, who says he has studied under a number of renowned chefs, said it is crucial the kitchen put out fresh, quality dishes.
The new restaurant will focus on hand-cut steaks and seafood dishes, with a few New Orleans favorites, including gumbo, jambalaya, blackened catfish and dirty rice.
Dinners will include a trip to the soup and salad bar and, on the weekends, Johnson plans to serve breakfast and brunch on Sundays.
“I want to serve fine, good quality food that is still affordable,” she said.
The restaurant, originally a home built in the 1920s, has a lot of charm that Johnson plans to keep, from the cream wainscoting, fireplace to the hardwood floors.
Through the years, a number of establishments occupied the space, including the Main Street Grille, which opened in May 2006 and closed several years later.
Some say ghosts still haunt an upstairs bedroom and serving room. Johnson said she is not scared of a few ghosts, but does not doubt the restaurant is haunted. Already she has heard a few unexplained thumps.
“It doesn’t bother me,” she said. “My house is haunted.”
Johnson said she had watched the building deteriorate and decided earlier this year she would do something about it.
While she has never owned a restaurant, Johnson has worked in restaurants all her life.
When a mutual friend said they knew a retired cooking living in the Valley who had worked in restaurants in Cincinnati, Chicago and New Orleans, Johnson agreed to a meeting.
After tasting Williams’ food and hearing his passion for cooking, Johnson was sold.
Williams said he is thrilled to work with Johnson.
“Arizona only has a handful of restaurants that are doing good food,” he said. “When she said she wanted to do great steaks and seafood, I was in. We are building this together.”
While some dishes will feature a kick, Williams is quick to point out that he serves Creole not Cajun style.