Originally Published: October 24, 2009 10 p.m.
Barry Barbe is branching out.
Barbe is taking over the recently shuttered Sweet Tart space on Cortez Street in the coming weeks.
Called Monk's, Barbe's newest restaurant venture is something a little different than his 129½ - An American Jazz Grille and El Gato Azul restaurants downtown.
This new restaurant will focus on a classic American diner-type menu when it opens in November.
It was a choice Barbe says he made with the economy in mind.
"Everything I've done prior to this has been niche-marketed," he said. "With the trends we're seeing in the market, (consumers) are budget-conscious."
Restaurants throughout the tri-city area and beyond are closing their doors or struggling to keep them open as people remain vigilant with their money more than ever.
Brian Harron with Sunbelt Business Brokers in Prescott specializes in buying and selling restaurants, and he's working with the Prescott Area Independents group.
Harron said the recession isn't necessarily the cause of some restaurants closing their doors around town, and those owners who are doing well are able to successfully go back to basics and focus on quality food, service and giving their customers what they want.
"When the business is walking in the door automatically, that's really easy," he said. "When it's not, you've got to go back and polish your game up all over again. I think a lot of people in the area, particularly in Prescott, have benefited from that attitude."
Harron said in good times and bad, it's always up to the care and attention the owner gives his or her business.
"People will always try you once; the skill is what you do to bring them back again and again," he said.
For Barbe, that means using his roughly 20 years in the restaurant business as a tool and giving people the affordable and tasty dishes they want, with lunch prices ranging from $7 to $9.
"We were looking for something that could provide a casual atmosphere at a price point that people are comfortable with and food that people recognize," he said.