The interior of The Abbey at 6960 E. Sunrise features two garage-like doors that open (left) to reveal the patio area. 

Arizona Daily Star / 2010

Three weeks after taking over The Abbey, owner Sandy Ford is about to make some sweeping changes.

Beginning next week, the restaurant that she and her now ex-husband Brian Metzger opened in late 2010 will have extended hours, a new menu and new energy.

“Not everything has to change. The space is beautiful. The concept is great. It’s a great corner and it has great guests,” said Ford, who regained full ownership of the restaurant at 6960 E. Sunrise Drive as part of her July 2 divorce settlement from

restaurateur Metzger, according to court records. The divorce is expected to be finalized Tuesday.

Ford never relinquished ownership of The Abbey when she left the business in spring 2011. Ford went to work at The Hub and The Playground downtown while Metzger continued to run The Abbey. She is now general manager of both downtown businesses, a job she said she will continue.

Metzger also owns Poppy Kitchen at La Paloma and Gio Taco in The Cadence student housing complex downtown.

With The Abbey ownership, Ford also inherits the restaurant’s financial baggage, including a bankruptcy filed in May to protect it from being seized by a creditor.

Metzger filed for bankruptcy for The Abbey’s parent Abbygrace LLC after Ventura-Pacific Development locked him out of the restaurant over an unpaid $30,000 bill for construction work.

Ford said she is evaluating the restaurant’s finances and has a hearing on July 30 to determine how to resolve the bankruptcy.

“It’s been a bumpy, bumpy road. A lot of things I didn’t know keep popping out like monsters in the night, but I think I have a handle on it,” said Ford, who brought in chef Beecher Howard to helm the kitchen and will roll out a completely revamped menu on Tuesday.

The menu will maintain the comfort food ethos of founding chef Virginia Wooters and continue three popular dishes: Brussels and bacon, house-made fries and baked brie Wellington.

“Everything else is changing,” Ford said Friday. “There are pork belly steamed buns on the new menu. There’s going to be a tikka masala. I don’t know if I can say it’s all American, but it’s comfort food.”

The new menu also will include short ribs braised in red wine ($18), a cedar plank Scottish salmon with gorgonzola and caramelized onion mashed potatoes ($20) and a bone-in pork rib chop paired with roasted fennel ($17).

Also starting Tuesday, The Abbey will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 4 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

Brunch will be served on Saturdays and Sundays.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.