By Alison Bailin Batz / Photos courtesy of White Lily Films
Carri Gardner will tell you that her newly opened restaurant, The Covenant, was oh-so kismet. Or perhaps more precisely, “O.H.S.O.” kismet.
“I worked in the restaurant industry when I was younger and loved it,” says Gardner. “I went to work in medical sales rather than follow my dream of going into the restaurant business, though, as practically got the better of me.”
Fast-forward nearly a decade to 2014, when a chance meeting over craft beer would change the course of her life forever.
“One night, I was at O.H.S.O. Brewery Arcadia and met a cute guy named Jon,” Gardner says. “But he wasn’t just a random bar patron – he owned the place.”
Jon was Jon Lane, who has grown the nano-brewery from one location to three in recent years. Lane and Gardner shared a passion for the restaurant industry from the start, and love quickly bloomed. The pair married earlier this year in Tulum, Mexico.
“While dating, I shared many of my culinary concepts with Jon as well as his concept partner, Brian Roehrich,” Gardner says. “I knew I wanted to finally take a leap;
I just needed the right location.”
Earlier this year, she found her location: A 4,000-square-foot space on the northwest corner of Tatum and Shea, which happens to be right next door to O.H.S.O. Paradise Valley.
“I wanted something a little more elegant, yet still approachable, for people in the neighborhood who all too often have to venture elsewhere for date night or happy hour,” says Gardner, who worked with Roehrich to design the space with chandeliers, a massive bar, and floor-to-ceiling wine storage enclosed in glass – complete with a spiral staircase as a focal point.
There is also a cozy coffee nook, with a goal of acting as a neighborhood workspace and morning meeting locale for the local community before switching over for lunch and dinner service.
And dining is an experience in and of itself, with an open kitchen where guests can watch the chefs in action as well as marvel at the 900-degree, wood-fired grills. And, thanks to Executive Chef Rich Putman, they are being used for far more than wood-fired pizzas. Actually, pizza isn’t even on the menu!
Instead, the menu boasts a variety of items inspired by Gardner’s Midwest youth (think hearty short ribs), her recent Mexico wedding (hello, fresh ceviche), and even her life today in the Valley (vegetarian dishes and lighter fare abounds).
“Our cocktail program is equally inspired. I’m most proud of the Farmer’s Market cocktail, which changes seasonally and is 100 percent locally sourced.”
Equally as impressive is the wine list, which boasts more than 70 wines by the bottle and 30 by the glass.
The Covenant’s coffee bar is open daily from 7 to 11 a.m.; the restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to close and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to close (with brunch on weekends).
4740 E. Shea Blvd., Phoenix; 602.595.7440; www.thecovenantaz.com.