We sat down with owner Danny Quinn to get the scoop on how Rockefeller Scottsdale came about, his favorite thing about working with chef Danny Garcia, how many oysters they go through a night, and the über controversial topic – why Rockefeller doesn’t have a TV.
Tell us the Rockefeller Scottsdale origin story. How did you come up with the concept and location?
"So it started with the space.
A Thai restaurant had recently fallen through and a friend approached me in 2020 about this location. (The lease was signed in December 2020 and they started building in early 2021.)
I took a look around and asked “what’s not represented in [McCormick Ranch]?” You’ve got breweries, Mexican, Italian, steakhouses.
But seafood was missing.
The name and the overall concept took a minute. I knew I wanted bar-centric and a smaller menu as well. From there, the oysters and the twenties twist took shape. Once Edgar (Rockefeller's Beverage Director) and Ella (Rockefeller's Bar Manager) got ahold of the concept, they were off to the races cocktail and wine program wise.
We also knew we wanted to be open later. McCormick Ranch is pretty quiet and there's no where around here where you can stop by for a nightcap after dinner somewhere else. We wanted Rockefeller to be that place."
This is restaurant number three for you and Chef Danny Garcia. What’s your favorite part about working with him?
"We work well together because I 100% trust him to take care of the back of the house, and he 100% trusts me to take care of the front. He definitely has opinions, as do I. But we trust each other’s expertise. There’s very little egos between us. (We spoke to Chef Danny and he confirmed all of this.)
Another thing about Chef Danny is nothing phases him. And that’s important when running a business, especially in the hospitality industry. It’s helpful to have a partner who can stand in the fire with you and who you trust to figure stuff out when sh*t goes down."
You can read more about Danny and Danny’s backstory here.
First draft until now, how different is the menu?
"Normally we start way too big and pare it down. But since we knew we wanted smaller, it wasn’t so much cutting as it was switching things out.
There were a couple dishes we knew we wanted on there - Oysters Rockefeller of course, filet, a lobster risotto.
The kitchen space and layout actually dictated a lot of what we could and couldn’t do, unfortunately. We built it from scratch and it’s been great having brand new appliances that we could choose, but there were still constraints with the building in terms of space and what not."
Opening a restaurant is never easy. What was the hardest part about this one?
"Supply chain. Supply chain issues are very real. There’s nothing they don’t impact. It was difficult to get furniture, glassware, flatware.
We’d find something we’d like only to be told it was out of stock. So we were constantly having to adjust and compromise. It worked out in the end but that was definitely something I didn’t encounter with my first two restaurants, at least to this degree."
Speaking of furniture, design, and details – what’s your favorite detail in the restaurant?
"The bar. Hands down." (We don’t blame him.)
Where did you get the idea for that?
"Honestly, Pinterest. Pinterest is my best friend. I saw it on there and showed it to my designer Mike Rumpeltin from Brick and West who’s incredibly talented with both design and engineering.
It was originally going to hang from the ceiling, but structurally it just wouldn’t work. But yeah, it’s hand welded and custom fitted for the space."
Alright, oyster time. How many do you go through in a night?
"Well, opening month we were doing four to five hundred a night during the week, 1,500 a night easily on the weekends."
No TV at the bar. Tell us more.
(Laughs.) "So, we thought about it. We were going to put one in the left corner when you walk in. But you couldn’t see it with the chandeliers.
It was a brand choice. We don’t want people coming here to watch TV. There’s a million other places they can go for that. That’s not why we opened Rockefeller.
We want people coming here to drink incredible cocktails, eat delicious food, and connect with each other."
In other words folks, talk to your wife. 😉