Upward Projects, the Valley-based hospitality company known for transforming under-appreciated and historically significant properties into vibrant, welcoming neighborhood restaurants, is pleased to announce the opening of its most architecturally significant project yet. Named Postino Highland for the street it resides on (4821 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 / 602-428-4444), the restaurant & wine bar will open to the public on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. Housed inside a restored mid century modern bank designed by famed Drover, Welch, and Lindlan architect, Frank Henry, Postino Highland is poised to be one of the most beautiful, and significant additions to the Upward Projects’ portfolio of cool, local hangs. In what Upward Projects co-founder Lauren Bailey describes as a multi-year journey to capture a unicorn, “This is the one that got away. Until now.”
“Six years ago I called Craig and said, ‘I’m standing here under a 50-year-old ficus tree on a stunning patio, staring at the most perfect Postino location ever,’ and he knew exactly what I was talking about,” Lauren says. As architecture aficionados, Lauren and Craig had always appreciated the former Valley National Bank branch located on the NE corner of Scottsdale Road and Highland Ave., instantly recognizable for its towering wall of cast concrete fins. But the landlord at the time wasn’t interested in adding a restaurant. So when new owners acquired the property, their first call was to Upward Projects. “And we immediately said, in the words of [artist] Beck, ‘hell yes!'” Craig says.
Excited to dig in and research the property and the projects history, the Upward Projects team practically moved into the ASU Library’s Archives & Special Collection, where Frank Henry’s family had donated his personal archives. Best known for his “Mushroom Bank” at 44th Street and Camelback, Henry apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright and left behind an impressive oeuvre of soaring, glass-lined gems carefully protected from the harsh desert sun by stylized, cast-concrete forms. Prior to starting on Postino Highland, “We were able to scan the original 1960s construction blueprints and also historic photographs that hadn’t been seen in decades, so we could build an image archive of the bank’s original design and decor and all the great details it revealed,” Lauren says.
Even better, Craig says, “Once we got into the space we were excited to see the love and care that had been put into the property. So many of our adaptive use projects have been stucco’d over or otherwise significantly altered, it was great to see a historic property that had been so well cared for.”
After cleaning out the 5,900-sq.-ft. space and carefully carving out a kitchen, the Upward Projects team set out to restore this former flagship branch in all its marble-inlaid, stylized concrete and mid century glory. “The signature feature will be an existing glass box that cantilevers off the NW corner of the building,” Craig says, “which we’ve transformed into a glowing 18-seat bar featuring operable windows and lit by these fantastic mid-century light fixtures from France.” Inside the 80-seat dining room, “One of our favorite pieces we spotted in the historic photos was a stylized metal screen about 10-feet long and 8-feet wide, that had gone missing over the decades,” Lauren says. “So we had it recreated and will incorporate all-new versions around the restaurant, as well as the original space-age light fixtures, which we’ve also re-fabricated and hung over the booths.” Stepping out onto the shaded 70-seat patio boasting original water fountains and bordered by the building’s signature rock-studded concrete fins, “we worked with a local artisan to create a standalone fireplace that replicates the unique look of the original barricade fins,” Lauren says.
Plus, keeping with Upward Project’s love of cheeky, quirky wall art (think the cassette tapes at Windsor, and the vintage Playboy covers and vintage book covers at Postino Kierland and Postino LoHi in Denver, respectively), Postino Highland will showcase an entire wall lined with vintage matchbooks. “Each one was donated by our friends and guests, including one donated who his entire 1,000-box collection that he’s been collecting since he was 16 years old.” It’s all part of the unique, vintage-glam vibe that will make this Postino a true standout. Plus, a rarity in Old Town Scottsdale, Postino Highland will feature a trove of dedicated parking in the onsite lot just behind the building.
“It’s somewhat spiritual for us that on Postino’s 15th anniversary, we’re able to find a proper home for our first downtown Scottsdale location, and we couldn’t have done it without our partners Bill Levine and Andrew Cohn who helped bring this project to fruition.”
Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane says, “Postino Wine Café has already been a great addition to north Scottsdale, and we’re excited to have a new downtown location coming this May. Postino has figured out that perfect mix of elevated hospitality and sense of place for those in the community, and by restoring a 60-year old building, are perpetuating our history into the future.”
Open daily for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, Postino Highland will also offer signature specials such as $5 Before 5pm, offered everyday on all wines by the glass and draft beer pitchers, and $20 Bottle & Board on Monday & Tuesday evenings. For more information about Postino Wine Café visit www.postinowinecafe.com.
About Upward Projects
Upward Projects creates inspired restaurants that are connected to the communities they serve. Beginning 15 years ago with the Valley’s original local Wine Café, Postino Arcadia, owners Kris & Craig DeMarco and Lauren & Wyatt Bailey built a foundation on historically relevant buildings integral to the neighborhoods that surround. Today, Upward Projects continues this tradition with multiple Postino and Joyride Taco House locations, as well as Windsor & Churn, Federal Pizza. www.upwardprojects.com