The Business Journal of Phoenix - June 2, 2003


Family's office plan to revive Stockyards Restaurant

Mike Padgett
The Business Journal

Two contractor brothers with a passion for history are planning their companies' future headquarters on east Phoenix property that had a pivotal role in Arizona's past.

Gary and Mike Smith, who in 1983 founded Jokake Construction, are buying the 7.3-acre parcel anchored by The Stockyards Restaurant at 5001 E. Washington St.

The existing building, which has about 23,000 square feet, will be updated and restored "to its former glory," Gary Smith said.

Construction will start in November on three other buildings totaling 73,000 square feet, including a 30,000-square-foot, two-story office building that will be the future home of the Jokake Cos. Occupancy is set for August 2004. Working on the designs are Kendall Design Collaborative and OWP/P.

The Smiths' companies currently occupy 15,000 square feet at 2845 E. Camelback Road.

Gary Smith said The Stockyards property is less than one mile east of the Loop 202 Freeway; it is on the alignment of the future light-rail line; and it is about two miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The building housing The Stockyards Restaurant is in the center of the property. Adjacent to the street is a site for a 5,500-square-foot building for a coffee shop and a sandwich shop. South of the existing building is space for a 40,000-square-foot facility that will be designed for industrial tenants, Mike Smith said.

During a recent visit to The Stockyards property, the Smiths walked through the building and checked out the commemorative Liberty Bell installed in the parking lot.

"We were out looking for a site for our headquarters, and we drove by this property," Gary Smith said. "And I said, 'Wouldn't it be fun to do a project around The Stockyards?'"

The Smiths started researching the property about eight months ago, learned the owners were interested in selling, and initiated negotiations. The Smiths declined to discuss financial details.

Escrow is set to close June 2. The sellers of the restaurant are Ted Mullen and Dennis Conry, who have owned it since 1980. They are tenants of the property owned by Bertrand Stanfield.

The Smith brothers are well-known in the Valley's construction and real estate industries. Their Jokake Cos. specializes in general contracting and interior improvements.

Through their other company, Southwest Asset Solutions Inc., the Smiths recently finished selling the 68,000-acre Paloma Ranch west of Gila Bend. In addition, they plan to open Jokake's West Valley offices in a 1940s-era building they bought in downtown Buckeye.

The restaurant's main entrance is through two copper-clad doors at the northwest corner of the building. On the building's north side, under the bull standing on the roof, is the entrance to the lobby and existing tenants' offices. The lobby's tile floor is decorated with cattle brands, and the lobby's walls are filled with historical photos of a time when beef was a key product of Arizona.

South of the existing restaurant is property that once was a stockyards operation, which gave the restaurant its name. The cattle feeding operation, Arizona Packing Co., was founded in 1920 by Edward Tovrea, according to published accounts. The stockyards covered 200 acres, large enough to handle 35,000 head of cattle. It was an era when cattle ranching was integral to the state's economy, and Tovrea's feedlot operation was considered one of the largest in the West.

Tovrea later built the wedding-cake-shaped building on the north side of Washington Street, which today is called Tovrea Castle. The feedlots were removed in the early 1970s.

According to published accounts, The Stockyards Restaurant started as a 35-seat coffee counter serving cattlemen who did business with Tovrea. The building burned in 1953, and it was rebuilt with a restaurant and bar in 1954.

Today, the restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner.

Get connected

Southwest Asset Solutions Inc.: 602-224-0001.

The Stockyards Restaurant: 602-273-7378.

2003 American City Business Journals Inc.

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