Prescott may have Whiskey Row, but if restaurant owner Mike Haley’s vision for Scottsdale comes to fruition, Scottsdale could soon have Honky-Tonk Row.
And it all starts with Old Town’s newest restaurant-bar, Belle’s Nashville Kitchen.
“The whole idea of [Belle’s] is to really be a Nashville-style honky-tonk where there’s live music all day, every day,” Belle’s owner Haley said. “My vision in 10 years would be that all Main Street would be the new Honky-Tonk Row.”
Bringing the taste of Music City to Old Town, Belle’s specializes in Nashville staples, like the hot chicken sandwich, and southern classics, like jambalaya.
“That chicken has gotta be moist. It’s gotta be cooked properly. It’s gotta be cooked evenly. I don’t think you can hide, no matter what you put on it, the quality and how the chicken is prepared,” Haley said. And that is what makes Belle’s signature menu item, the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich, so special.
“And the hot paste that Sam [Roberts] created is just awesome,” Haley added.
The menu was developed by award-winning chef Samantha Roberts, who has also developed menus for Riot Hospitality Group restaurants and bars such as Riot House, El Hefe Mexican Restaurant and Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row.
It is also sprinkled with more Scottsdale-friendly dishes, like a poke board and spicy barbecue sauce-baked salmon with pineapple salsa and almond rice.
“I want people to keep coming back because the food’s great, but you can’t eat fried food every day,” Haley said of his healthier fare.
As for why Haley and Roberts ditched the BBQ, another Nashville staple?
“Old Town Scottsdale is not really that spot,” Haley said. “People see barbecue once in a while. They don’t come back to the barbecue.”
Since Belle’s opened on Dec. 12, the Honky-Tonk Brunch has been popular among patrons.
Belle’s Honky-Tonk Brunch, held on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., features everything from biscuits and gravy and build-your-own Bloody Marys to their $12 Hot Chicken Biscuit, a hot chicken topped with melted cheddar, an over-medium egg, bacon, honey drizzle sandwiched between a fresh-baked biscuit.
Live music also plays an important role at Belle’s — as any Nashville-inspired restaurant and bar should.
An acoustic guitarist perform during brunch and Belle’s will launch a live music event on Tuesday evenings called Tune-Up Tuesdays featuring local singer-songwriter, Blaine Long.
“He’s a super nice guy, incredible voice, and he was the very first person to play at Belle’s,” Haley said.
The restaurant is inspired by Nashville but also pays homage to historic Scottsdale restaurant Lulu Belle’s, which once existed in the space Belle’s occupies today.
The legendary Lulu Belle’s was a popular Gay-1890s-themed bar and restaurant and the “only watering hole in town” that operated from the 1950s to the 1990s.
According to JoAnn Handley, manager of the Scottsdale Historical Museum, Lulu Belle’s opened around the same time as Valley Ho Hotel (now known as Hotel Valley Ho), just after the Safari.
It was described in media accounts as an upscale spot where Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood had their wedding dinner.
“From everything I’ve seen, all the pictures I’ve seen, it just looks like everybody’s there to eat some good food, have a good time hanging out with their friends. It seems like it’s got good energy, and I just want to continue that, just in a different theme,” Haley said of what he hopes Belle’s adds to the building’s history.
Haley said he also hopes to hang up some images of Lulu Belle’s inside his honky-tonk restaurant.
“It’s cool to put on the walls a little extra history,” he said.
Belle’s also offers happy hour specials from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and reverse happy hour on Sundays through Thursdays from 10 p.m. to close.
This year, Haley’s hopes for Belle’s is to secure a conditional use permit allowing for amplified music to showcase two- and three-piece bands.
“And I’m hoping that the pandemic goes away, so we can start doing some dancing, some line dancing, some good old honky-tonk-feeling vibes,” Haley added.
He’s also looking for spot No. 2.
“I’d love to put it right down the street,” Haley said. “Maybe it’s a little different concept — maybe a little bit honky-tonk. Honky-Tonk Row just has a good ring to it.”