Phoenix chef Aaron May is giving himself another excuse to spend time in Tucson.
As early as January, May plans to open The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen in the old My Big Fat Greek Restaurant at Foothills Mall. May has submitted his plans for the building to Pima County and once the county signs off, he said it will take four to six weeks to remodel the building in log-cabin chic.
He also is actively shopping locations to open outposts of his popular Over Easy diner - a breakfast and lunch joint with four locations in the Phoenix area. He's looked at possible sites on Tucson's east side, north side and near the University of Arizona but hasn't yet locked down a deal, May said.
At the Lodge, expect rich brown woods and taxidermy on the walls - sort of a female-friendly man cave. The menu is a work in progress, but will include the namesake Sasquatch burger - Black Angus beef with bacon, cheese and fried onions served between two grilled cheese sandwiches - that's popular at May's Scottsdale restaurant/bar The Lodge.
The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen evolved from the Scottsdale hot spot, with an expanded menu and more family-friendly vibe, May said.
This is the second Tucson restaurant for May, who attended the University of Arizona for four years but walked away without a degree in the mid-1990s.
He is partners with Tucson businessmen John Foster and Ryan Field in the two-year-old May's Counter Chicken & Waffles at 2945 E. Speedway near Country Club Road.
"I have made it no small secret that I love Tucson and I love being in Tucson," said May, who also owns and runs 12 restaurants in the Phoenix area including Praying Monk Restaurant & Bar. "Obviously, this is another step to allow me to be down there more. We have 13 restaurants that we manage and when one of them is in Tucson and the rest are in Phoenix, it's hard to spend a disproportionate amount of time there. But opening this allows me to spend more (time there)."
May's $500,000 renovation of the Foothills Mall restaurant will include taking out a couple of walls and retooling the shape of the dining room. "We're doing some cool stuff," he said.