Nov 9, 2023 - Culture

MacAlpine's hopes to fundraise to reopen a piece of Arizona history

A diner counter with soda bottles on shelves behind it.

The counter at MacAlpine's. Photo courtesy of Monica Heizenrader

A historic diner and soda fountain in central Phoenix has raised more than $23,000 since it started a GoFundMe campaign to help reopen about a month ago.

  • Yes, but: It still has a long way to go.

State of play: MacAlpine's Diner and Soda Fountain on Seventh Street between Thomas and McDowell roads is trying to raise $92,500.

  • That would cover the estimated cost of reopening, including supplies, equipment, staff, maintenance and monthly bills, owner Monica Heizenrader wrote on GoFundMe.
  • She estimated that would keep MacAlpine's running through Valentine's Day while they work to repay outstanding debts and refinance the building.
  • Heizenrader added she's also planning to sell some furniture from her house to fund the reopening.

1 big goal: There's no deadline for when Heizenrader needs to hit her fundraising goal, but she told Axios Phoenix she hopes to reopen in December.

Catch up quick: MacAlpine's shut its doors in March 2020 when the pandemic closed many restaurants in Arizona and beyond.

  • They reopened for to-go orders in late May that year but closed again about six weeks later.
  • Since, Heizenrader's husband, Cary, who owned and ran the restaurant with her, died.
  • A few months later, Heizenrader suffered a fall and was bedridden, scuttling plans for a reopening.

What she's saying: "I'm optimistic," Heizenrader told us. "I think enough people really love MacAlpine's and realize how special it is, that I think we can pull it together. It would be a tragedy to see it not reopen. It's just such an irreplaceable piece of Arizona history."

  • Heizenrader and her husband bought the restaurant in 2001.

Flashback: MacAlpine's opened in 1929 — the GoFundMe compares it to "It's a Wonderful Life," "Back to the Future" and "Happy Days."

  • It opened in 1929, and Heizenrader said its regular customers included Frank Lloyd Wright, Barry Goldwater, John McCain, Rose Mofford and Wayne Newton.
  • She said Newton was rumored to have been discovered at the restaurant, though she's never been able to verify the story.
  • "When you walk through the door, you feel like you've been transported to a simpler time and the feeling is amazing," Heizenrader said.

You tell us: Are you a former MacAlpine's customer? We'd love to hear your stories about this historic diner.

  • And definitely let us know if you ever saw Wayne Newton there.

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