By Alison Bailin Batz
Photos by Claudia Johnstone
Growing up, Kellie Pruitt lived for … reruns of Perry Mason?
“I loved the law, and in the show, Mason would defend these falsely accused people while seeking the real criminals and bringing them to justice,” says Pruitt, whose passion only grew when her father served on the local city council, which resulted in Pruitt getting to go on police ride-alongs.
She was so passionate, in fact, that by her early twenties, Pruitt was working as a police officer herself.
“While I loved serving, seeing many of life’s atrocities on a daily basis was having an abysmal effect on me, emotionally and physically,” says Pruitt, eventually enrolling at the University of Texas at Arlington in her mid-twenties while working full-time to see what else might be out there. “On a whim, I tried an accounting class and I loved it!”
Upon graduating, she earned a position in Fort Worth, Texas, with Deloitte & Touche (now Deloitte), one of the largest international public accounting firms.
“I was 29 and already on my second career,” Pruitt says. She earned her CPA designation soon after. “I eventually made my way to the Washington, D.C. office in 1998, and while there, was promoted to senior manager.”
And she was just getting started.
“In 1999, my life changed forever when I had my daughter, Harleigh. It was love at first sight,” Pruitt says. “But raising a little one in harsh winters was not so lovely.”
So, cross country she moved yet again, this time to the Valley in 2005.
“And what would a move be without another career change to match?” laughs Pruitt, who eventually left Deloitte’s Phoenix office before making her biggest move yet. “In 2009, I joined Healthcare Trust of America, eventually serving as their chief financial officer.”
In 2012, she helped take the company public.
“By 2014, I was ready for another change, but I really didn’t want to leave the Valley,” Pruitt says. And by then, she was married to a fellow CFO and had moved to Cave Creek with her daughter. “So, though I was still in my forties, I decided to ‘retire.’”
It lasted all of a month.
“I retired in September 2014, but by October I embarked on my wildest career yet – owning a restaurant,” Pruitt says. “My husband and I loved Rock & Vine Bar and Grill, which was tucked into an enclave in La Mirada Center in North Scottsdale, so when I heard the owners wanted to sell, I went for it.”
Over the next two years, the business – which she rebranded as Grape Bistro – did well, but she was sick of being the best-kept secret in town. In February 2016, Pruitt moved Grape to a bigger space on the southeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Pinnacle Peak, and the business took off.
But, in July 2016, tragedy struck.
“My husband and I were en route to Rocky Point, Mexico, when we got a call from a neighbor regarding emergency vehicles at our home. When I called Harleigh, then 17, the sheriff answered,” Pruitt says. “Harleigh had developed a blood clot in her leg, which resulted in a pulmonary embolism within seconds. We lost her.”
Devastated, Pruitt would spend the next 18 months grieving and getting help, often finding solace in hiking, especially Pinnacle Peak. Understandably, she was not a daily fixture at Grape Bistro during much of that time.
“Earlier this year, I thought in earnest about closing the business,” Pruitt says. “But, then I met Rebecca.”
Rebecca is Rebecca Golden, founder of 32 Shea, a dog-friendly restaurant and bar that helped revitalize the area around 32nd Street and Shea Boulevard in Phoenix. Having sold 32 Shea in 2017, Golden was working as a restaurant consultant.
“Together, we forged a new concept, PNPK, which opened in my Grape Bistro space last month,” Pruitt says.
Named for Pinnacle Peak – in part due to the location but more due to Pinnacle Peak Mountain’s healing effects on Pruitt – the restaurant has been completely renovated and the menu reimagined.
“With the Scottsdale Airpark so close, why not offer ‘flights’ of everything from hand-crafted sliders, deviled eggs and bruschetta to beer and wine?” Pruitt says. “We want to be a true neighborhood gathering place.”
PNPK (www.pnpkaz.com) has a dog-friendly patio and offers happy hour from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. In addition to a massive wine and beer list, the venue also boasts an Arizona-themed cocktail menu that includes a sparkling wine cocktail called Tickle Me PNPK. A dollar from each of these cocktails will benefit the volunteer group Friends of Pinnacle Peak Park, which ensures the park is well-maintained.
A must-try: The meatball slider, made with Pruitt’s secret family meatball recipe, which was Harleigh’s favorite.