A Simpsonville Staple for Over 20 Years
After several years, previous ownership opened other concepts, and Arizona's wasn't "new" and "hip" anymore. Times were changing and the restaurant needed a refresh.
Enter Alexandra Walton. The niece of local restauranteur Mark Craig, Alexandra first overhauled Arizona's prominent bar. The literal center of the restaurant, the bar was refitted to offer more taps and poured only local craft beers. Partnering with local Advintage representative Jason Davis, Walton created a wine list that zeroed in on boutique wines made by real people with real families and passion for their craft. The cocktail menu was completely flipped to feature hand-squeezed mixers like the house sour. Fresh fruit, herbs and spices were featured in house cocktails. The bourbon list was expanded and drew a new crowd with the best happy hour in Simpsonville.
When it came to the menu, some decisions had to be made. Gone were 90s favorites like the marinated sirloin, and in its place were hand-cut Certified Angus Beef NY Strip, Ribeye and Filet. An emphasis on embracing the quality of the meat, without dressing it up, was central to reaching the fast-growing South Carolina beef market. Still grilling every item to order over hickory, the kitchen returned to its scratch roots with homemade dressings, sauces, soups and marinades - even seasoning blends completely unique to Arizona's.
All of this brought Arizona's through the tail-end of the Great Recession, and inspired record-breaking sales for what became the last-standing Arizona Steakhouse. Looking to the future, Alexandra decided to rebrand the concept as ARIZONA Handcrafted Fare & Drink Co. What was never a true steakhouse has now fully realized its cherished role as a haven for a great meal, a strong drink, and friendly professional service.
With Arizona's 20th year in operation came COVID-19. A tumultuous year by any standard, the staff and ownership had to make decisions never before considered in the restaurant business, like closing entire sections of the dining room, limiting dining hours, capacity, and menu offerings based on product availability. The community was there every step of the way, and in turn Arizona's held out a helping hand whenever needed. School children received a replacement meal for school lunches no longer readily available to all - no questions asked. When the local school cafeterias ran through their daily meal allotments, they sent families to Arizona's. Despite uncertainty, short staffing, and a literal pandemic looming, Arizona's prevailed and has come out the other side not just standing, but running full speed ahead.
Alexandra Walton is the mother of two precious boys. She enjoys the beauty of nature, exploring new restaurants, and traveling. Her boys can tell you everything you would ever want to know about Godzilla, King Kong, and the Marvel Universe. In their downtime, they enjoy geocaching together all over the upstate. In April 2021, Alexandra was engaged to her longtime Bar Manager and dear friend Christopher Lewis. Together they look forward to another 20 years of Arizona's story.