Bookstore owners breathe new life into old, charred Phoenix landmark


by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

Posted on May 31, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Updated Saturday, May 31 at 6:49 PM

PHOENIX --- The charred remains of the iconic Beef Eaters steakhouse in central Phoenix have been rebuilt into a mixed-use business center.

Owners of Tempe's Changing Hands Bookstore opened a new location in part of the old restaurant Friday night.

"We've been wanting to come to Phoenix for a long time," co-owner Cindy Dash told 3TV as she unpacked the final books and supplies before the opening.

While big-name national book chains have closed their brick-and-mortar stores, Changing Hands is bucking that trend.

"It's having someone there to suggest a new book. It's the one-on-one interaction, the people you meet, the author events we have, which bring customers in," Dash added.

Some of those loyal customers helped the new location open. They donated more than $91,000 in an online fundraising campaign, beating the owners' hopes by $10,000.

"People will step up when it's something that matters to them," Dash said.

She believes the store still would have opened without the online fundraiser but says, "There are pieces that wouldn't be here."

"I live in the neighborhood and think it's great," said Mike Astemborski, who donated to the project.

The store has an industrial look and retains many features Beef Eaters diners will recognize. A big, old fireplace has been converted into a reading cove for children. The owners also placed a coffee, beer and wine bar in the bookstore.

"They took a legendary building in the heart of the city and made it into something awesome," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton told the crowd at the opening.

A new restaurant is open at the site and a new garden shop will follow.