By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | June 8, 2021
With the Hard Rock Café’s closure, Wok ’N Roll is bringing a touch of music and food to Phoenix.
The colorful Scottsdale Asian eatery opened a second location in Central Phoenix, sharing its creative mix of Chinese, sushi and sports with cocktails, classic rock and flamboyant memorabilia.
“Wok ’N Roll combines two of my passions: great Asian food and classic rock ’n’ roll,” says Scott Stuart, Wok ’N Roll founder and chief executive officer.
“When we decided to open in Scottsdale, the name was a natural. We serve delicious sushi and Chinese favorites and put a smile on our customers’ faces with a bit of edgy irreverence.”
The restaurant is 4,000 square feet, allowing Stuart to host events like a rock ’n’ roll burlesque show — with fire breathers, twirlers off the ceiling, singers, dancers and musicians — on the final Fridays of the month. Drag bingo from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturdays followed by karaoke.
Wok ’N Roll delivers a casual dining experience with build-your-own noodle or rice bowls, traditional Chinese favorites and sushi, along with an eclectic list of starters, such as pot stickers, Big Eye Tuna Poke, chicken wings or a cucumber salad.
“Everyone loves the orange chicken,” Stuart says. “The other favorites are shrimp dishes, because we have large shrimp. Another favorite is the honey walnut shrimp. After that, we have sushi, too.
“They come for the food and stay for the fun. That’s the catch phrase we’re going to start using. I love entertaining. I want people to come and experience something fun. It takes them away from what they’re regularly doing. When we give you the check at the end of the meal, it’s presented on an eight-track tape. It’s fun watching the parents explain to the kids what an eight-track tape is.”
The Phoenix location’s walls are adorned with music memorabilia like a signed Bruce Springsteen guitar from the “Born in the U.S.A.” tour, signed lyrics from Snoop Dogg, an Aerosmith signed album and a Queen signed album.
Music inspired the cocktail menu: 2 Tickets 2 Paradise is Absolut Mandarin, Aperol, and Wok ’N Roll White Ale; Smokin’ in the Boys Room boasts as a rosemary smoke-infused cocktail featuring Japanese Suntory Toki Whisky with Lillet Blanc and Domine De Canton Ginger Liqueur; and a Bohemian Rhapsody begins with ginger vodka, blood orange liqueur, lemon juice, lemongrass syrup and club soda.
An accountant by trade, Stuart, in part, credits his work ethic to his youth working at McDonald’s and even attending “Hamburger University.” After college, he landed on Wall Street and then on to national and local radio companies on both coasts and Phoenix. It was the golden era of radio, rolling out rock hits, and Stuart created countless marketing programs to promote his restaurant advertisers.
He grew to love the restaurant business and eventually combined his love of music and restaurants, opening his first, O’Mally’s Sports, Spirits & Grill in Phoenix.
After finding success, Stuart stepped out of the business to raise his daughter. Then, in 2018, he returned, buying the former J’s Kaiyo Sushi in Scottsdale, changing the concept and adding the new name Wok ’N Roll. Business went well until the pandemic hit. But his radio promotion experience also kicked in.
“Last year, when we were allowed to offer takeout only, I’d DJ on the patio in Scottsdale,” says Stuart, who’s planning a third restaurant in the Roosevelt District. “People gathered in the parking lot. Then I did pig roasts for fans to recall the scents of our kitchen. More people gathered. As a result, when we were able to increase occupancy, we came out of COVID strong.”
Wok ’N Roll
4412 N. Miller Road, Scottsdale
2801 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix