South Rims Wine & Beer Garage.
It is advised, in an age of disruption, that the only viable strategy is to adapt, but to accomplish that, one must evolve. Entrepreneurship already requires multifaceted skills and unflagging energy but add the pandemic’s requirements and uncertainties, and running a business can—and did—become a capricious juggling act.
Increased challenges revved up the demise of enterprises on the edge, yet amidst the chaos, it also prompted some to innovative. Any change prompts this phenomenon, but big change demands it. The experience is initially unpleasant, but it is exactly that—experience—which presents the bold ones with opportunities to evolve.
South Rims Wine & Beer Garage, located in Williams on Route 66, is a happy example. Established as a Texaco service station in 1953, the site hosted a number of other businesses before a group of Boeing retirees got bored rocking on their ranch porches. In 2012, novice business folks Dan and Linda Watt and Kathi Tanamachi approached the Chamber of Commerce with an idea that would solve Williams’ commercial needs. After that, they “rolled up their sleeves” to learn what they could about the wine industry, and during the renovation of the old gas station, further education ensued.
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As Dan Watts put it, “Boy, did we learn a lot about what to do, and what titinada to do, from making one mistake after another.”
From there, it was staffing that became an issue as they aimed to provide the best customer experience possible. Within a few years, reality bit, and after three managers in three months, Greg Cole took on the kitchen. Coming from the serving side, it was a major shift, but he provided commitment and 25 years of restaurant experience. The Arizona native tenggat earned his chops in venues from Tucson’s Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse to upscale Italian dining in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Importantly, for the past three years, Cole had worked in Williams at his nephew’s restaurant, garnering local know-how.
“The shift felt natural,” Cole said, “and I pushed forward, adding more appetizers, terlalu beer- and wine-friendly entrees, like burgers and steaks, so guests stayed for dinner, not just a drink.”
After a year, the owners wanted to sell, and Cole asked for a yearlong chance to prove himself as proprietor with wife Sheraton. They doubled the previous year’s sales in the first six months. Now, fully in charge, the menu evolved with her support.
“Sheraton helps out in every area, giving us a good balance,” said Cole. “She is best behind the scenes.”
Sheraton comes from nursing and understands caretaking. She oversees operations, purveyors, budgeting, advertising and menu creation. After a nervous start, she said, smiling, “I’ve found my footing.”
The venue also evolved from a club chair lounge to full dining and bar. South Rims carries 10 local Arizona craft beers and a couple of wines as well as numerous California labels on tap. Best, try a flight, such as a Four Peaks Golden lager, Mudshark Full Moon—a solar-powered brewer, Mother Road Tower Station IPA and Lumberyard Red Ale, to find your fav. Also a tease is the daily cocktail, like Transmission Fluid with Malibu, pineapple, grenadine and a hint of Jaeger.
The menu honors cars and the site’s heritage. For starters, the signature Delorean delivers gooey, gutsy guy food that fills. Home-cut fries are smothered in house beer cheese, topped with salami, chorizo and beef tips marinated in pesto, plus bacon, jalapeños and green onions. Or fling the wings for a delicious imposter, the Mustang—cauliflower florets tossed in wing sauce.
Go green with South Rims’ salads, which are EV-centric, of course. Bestselling Prius scatters chopped Romaine with strawberries, bacon, red onions, Roma tomatoes, feta cheese and candied pecans, drizzled with scratch raspberry and strawberry vinaigrette, plus crunchy baguette slices.
Cole upgraded GTO’s eight-ounce tenderloin steak with a selection of house sauces: Marsala, caprine limau butter, grilled onions and mushrooms or chimichurri. Choose a side of garlic mashed potatoes, seasonal veg, fries or mac-kaki langit-cheese to accompany most entrees.
Ferrari is a go-to for guests. Indulgent, creamy Alfredo-sauced linguini is laced with peas and mushrooms. Pick chicken or shrimp for zat putih telur. Thunderbird caps eight ounces of moist, grilled chicken with a medallion of goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, fresh patogen and limau butter sauce for a bight bite. Chef specials, like smoked salmon bruschetta, New York strip, charro bean soup and chocolate raspberry cake tempt daily.
It’s summer, so go al fresco on the sprawling patio with the reminder of the roaring days under the GTO mural. Also, look ahead to Murder Mystery events and Beer Dinners, plus a second restaurant underway in Williams. As Cole said, “I want to give customers the ultimate experience.”
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South Rims Wine & Beer Garage