Stoudemires owners optimistic despite Chapter 11 bankruptcy

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PHOENIX – Stoudemire's has a prime location downtown, right across from the U.S. Airways Center. Still, its owners are struggling to pay the bills. Friday they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The restaurant will remain open through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, and despite their problems, the owners say they're still optimistic about their future in downtown Phoenix.

Like many restaurants, Stoudemire's has seen a big drop in diners.

“On Suns game night we've gone from 400 dinners every Suns game night to averaging 250,” said owner Bill Smith.

The Suns schedule hasn't helped -- they've been on the road most of this season. And Stoudemire’s stays closed most nights when the Suns are gone.

The restaurant's owners got behind in rent, into a dispute with their landlord, and are now in bankruptcy. They say Stoudemire's has been losing money since it opened.

"It's been a struggle for 4 1/2 years,” Smith said, “but we have firmly believed in our product down there and where downtown Phoenix is going.”

The owners remain optimistic about the future of downtown and their restaurant. They point to the light rail, the Convention Center, ASU’s downtown campus, and the upcoming CityScape project -- currently under construction -- which will house offices, stores and restaurants.

"The first office tower is about 80 percent full -- so that means a whole lot more people coming down,” said David Roderique, CEO of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.

CityScape suffered its own setback this month when AJ’s pulled out of the project due to parent company Basha's financial problems. But CityScape developers say they already have other grocers interested in AJ’s spot.

CityScape will open this spring, right across from Stoudemire’s, giving the owners hope as they file for Chapter 11.

"People think it's a crazy bad thing, but it's not,” Smith added. “It's a way to work forward and plan. It's a business tool."