By Jordan Houston | January 4, 2022
A new restaurant is filling the void in Uptown Phoenix’s nightlife scene, amplifying the community’s culinary palate along the way.
Neighborly Public House, Common Ground Culinary’s latest concept, opened its doors in late November at The Colony, a 1950s-era mixed-use development located at 5538 N. Seventh Street.
Revamping the former Stock & Stable space, the “new American” eatery offers quality seafood, pristine cuts of meat, fresh salads and an extensive cocktail list to deliver the ultimate “neighborhood vibe.”
Chef-owner and Common Ground Culinary founder Christopher Collins says Neighborly Public House serves as the “elevated neighborhood spot you’ve been looking for.”
“I think what we do is that upscale neighborhood restaurant that I think the neighborhood needs,” says Collins, the source behind Valley dining hotspots like Grassroots Kitchen & Tap, Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar and Wally’s American Gastropub.
“I would never describe myself or my restaurants as ‘cool.’ We just do a really genuinely good job every day.”
The dinner-only restaurant features seafood and classic American dishes. Menu items include Maryland-style crab cakes ($34) made with lump blue crab, prime rib with a baked potato ($28 to $36), and a roasted, double thick bone-in pork chop ($26).
The crispy shrimp platter ($24), featuring shattered fries and a jicama-peanut slaw, is a major crowd pleaser, Collins notes.
“We are new American; I’ve never said I would try to reinvent the wheel as far as it comes to food,” says the fourth-generation restaurateur. “I just want my burger to be the best in the neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be the funkiest or most out-of-the-box. I just want people coming to my restaurant two or three or four days a week.
“I’m a food guy. I run my restaurants from the kitchen, and I obsess about the food. If your food is good, they will come back.”
Polished American cuisine is not all that Neighborly Public House has to offer. It delivers one of the restaurant group’s most adventurous cocktail menus, according to Collins.
“There are lots of schools and a lot of daytime businesses — and I knew that,” the Phoenix native explains. “This will be the concept that is open the latest and the concept that I’ve invested the most resources into a killer cocktail program.”
Specialty beverages include southern twists on classics like the peach old fashioned crafted with infused Elijah Craig 94 proof bourbon, Rothman and winter crème de peche, lemon cordial and a lemon wheel.
The badass mule — a Ketel One cocktail fusing black pepper ginger syrup, club soda, a lime squeeze and angostura bitters — is one of the chef’s top recommendations.
“I let my new generation of managers have at it, and they are killing it,” Collins says about the bar menu. “We have an untapped resource of young, eager managers who really wanted to take this challenge on.”
An extensive list of white and red wine is also offered, as well as numerous beer selections. The bar sits as a focal point in the center of the restaurant, which, Collins says, was a carefully thought-out decision.
“We are saying that this is a restaurant-bar. We are here to serve you food and cocktails,” he says. “I don’t think anyone has come in and just had food or just had liquor.”
Exuding a slightly masculine yet refined modern aesthetic, Neighborly Public House boasts rich, tufted leather booths, bold handmade wooden chairs and sturdy walnut tabletops.
Meanwhile, indoor streetlamps illuminate plaid wallpaper and steel accents.
“It is warmly modern; you come in and it’s all plush leather booths. Everything is a booth. Even the few chairs, even those are beautiful wooden handmade chairs,” Collins explains. “The lighting is perfect. There is spotlighting on every table; it’s not like the entire space is bright, but when you sit down you can see the table and the guests, but you don’t feel like the whole stage is lit up.”
Neighborly Public House is a testament to the driving nature of Collins’ Common Ground Culinary, a collection of neighborhood restaurants dedicated to “delivering the highest quality food and outstanding service in thoughtful environments where everybody feels like part of the family.”
Founded by Collins in 2011, the restaurant management group strives to create community-driven restaurants “that have soul.”
It operates Grassroots Kitchen & Tap, Twisted Grove Parlor & Bar, Wally’s American Gastropub, Sweet Provisions, The Collins and Arcadia Catering Co.
“When I’m opening a new place, I always look like, ‘Are we what is missing in that neighborhood?’” Collins says.
The restaurateur’s passion for culinary arts stems from years of industry experience.
With a degree in hospitality management from Boston University, Collins honed his craft while working as an executive chef and general manager for top restaurant brands nationwide before embarking on Common Ground Culinary.
“It’s my passion, it’s my hobby and it’s my work,” the father of two explains. “I’m not the guy who spends six hours on a golf course or spends an entire Sunday watching a whole bunch of football. It’s what I like to do with my life.”
Although COVID-19 proved particularly difficult for small business owners and local eateries — to which Collins was no exception — the chef says he refused to let the pandemic slow him down.
“It was so hard; there were so many bumps along the road, so many audibles and quick time decisions,” Collins says of Neighborly Public House’s origins. “When I signed the lease in February, I thought it would be open in August. But, it is what it is and I didn’t let it destroy my morale or me.”
It appears his diligence is already paying off.
Neighborly Public House, operating on a 20-year lease, is on track to becoming Common Ground’s most successful concept, Collins says.
“It is literally the restaurant I wish was in my neighborhood,” he says. “By far, this has been the most successful restaurant.”
Neighborly Public House
5538 N. Seventh Street, Phoenix