A sandwich shop named after the owners’ family pet will occupy the former Azar’s Restaurant building on north Monroe Street.
Jennifer Hesseltine says she and her husband, Aaron, will open Zozo’s Sandwich House, at 2501 N. Monroe, in December.
“We’re trying to bring a different take to the sandwich space here in Spokane—our take,” Jennifer Hesseltine says.
Hesseltine says she’s never owned a restaurant, but her family has worked in the industry, and she and Aaron have been planning for years to create their own restaurant.
“Food is our passion,” she says. “It’s what we’ve spent our whole life doing—traveling around together to eat food and coming back to make it at home.”
The menu at Zozo’s will include traditional cold-cut sandwiches, but Zozo’s primarily will feature hot sandwiches made with meats roasted in-house.
“We’re going to have a lot of different types of dips—think French dip,” Hesseltine says. “We’re going to have a turkey dip—not just during Thanksgiving—that’s going to have stuffing and cranberry sauce, and you’ll dip it in our turkey jous. We’re going to have Italian roast pork. It’s Philly’s other famous sandwich, besides a cheesesteak. It’s a pork sandwich with au jous.”
Many of the sandwiches on the menu are East Coast-inspired dishes, Hesseltine says.
“We’re going to have cutlet sandwiches,” she says. “If you go to New York and go to their sandwich shops, they’re full of chicken cutlet sandwiches, with the soft mozzarella that melts out, and roasted peppers and pesto and balsamic glaze.”
Hesseltine says she aims to source bread for sandwiches from a local bakery, and is in talks with Spokane-based Alpine Bistro & Bakery Co.
She says some East Coast-style sandwiches call for a kind of bread that’s difficult to find in Spokane.
“They’re called Amoroso rolls, or Toronto rolls,” Hesseltine says. “It’s bread made for a wet sandwich. To source it from Philadelphia or even from Chicago is too much.”
The restaurant is named after the family dog, a Staffordshire bull terrier, Hesseltine says.
“Her name is Zoe, and we call her Zozo,” Hesseltine says. “We thought it was catchy, and we already say it probably a hundred times a day.”
Hesseltine says she wanted to lease the former Azar’s location as soon as she saw it listed on a commercial real estate website. She met with the owner, Katy Azar—daughter of the original Azar’s owners, Najeeb and Najla Azar—and quickly signed the lease. Katy Azar closed Azar’s Restaurant last month after making the decision to retire from the restaurant industry.
The Hesseltines are making some minor changes to the building, such as new exterior and interior paint and new flooring.
“Azar’s fits the Monroe Street vibe, so we don’t want to change too much about it,” Hesseltine says. “We wouldn’t want to come in and stick out like a sore thumb, but we do want to freshen it up a little, because it is a little aged inside.”
The furniture is the same that diners sat in during Azar’s 42 years in business, Hesseltine says.
About half of the building’s 1,400 square feet is occupied by the kitchen.
“It’s perfect for a little sandwich house,” Hesseltine says.
About 10 people will work at Zozo’s, some of whom have already been hired from among the Hesseltines’ family.
The restaurant’s opening date will depend on passing health department and building code inspections, Hesseltine says.
Business hours will be 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
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