Tempe’s Bros, Brews and Brosenbrus

The Brosenbrus Café. Photo by Alex Karamanova.

The city of Tempe is always changing. Every year, Arizona State University students graduate and a new wave of Sun Devils rolls through. New buildings, residential halls, apartment complexes and restaurants pop up on the skyline — some make it to the next year and some don’t.

“Phoenix is a transient city to begin with,” says Steven Gross, owner of Brosenbrus Café, one of the latest establishments to call Tempe home. “It’s trying to find its own identity.”

Brosenbrus opened in October and has embraced Phoenix’s identity crisis, bringing café culture into the city’s melting pot of suburbs, cultures and dining options.

With its prime location on the first floor of Tempe’s Vue on Apache and a menu that includes breakfast, lunch, a full coffee bar and a variety of sandwiches and salads, Brosenbrus has quickly become a popular spot for Arizona State University students and Tempe residents alike. The new Tempe hotspot could win a “slashie” award for its hipster café/East Coast-sandwich shop vibe.

Owners Gross and Brad Stewart, both 27, met a few years ago when Gross did a photo shoot for Stewart’s band, Friday Night Gunfight.

“Brad was doing a full-time musician thing and I was doing full-time photography,” Gross says. “We both got to the point where we wanted something a little more stable in our lives, and somewhere to be grounded and kind of call a home.”

Inspiration for the café came from Gross and Stewart’s shared passion for cooking— “we’d always find ourselves in a kitchen,” Gross says.

Owners Brad Stewart (left) and Steven Gross (right). Photo by Alex Karamanova.

Planning for Brosenbrus began in August 2009. Originally, Gross and Stewart were interested in starting a weekend business like a farmer’s market, but, as Gross says, “doors just continued to open,” and the two found themselves looking at a spot for their new café on the first floor of The Vue.

“It was just a gravel pit… We were like, ‘Well, this is amazing!’” Gross says.

Though their new undertaking was much bigger than the two originally planned, they liked the location. With help from friends and family, “we were able to build the spot we wanted from the beginning,” Gross says.

The Brosenbrus menu came together over the past six months.

“Whenever we’re around food we always want to experiment,” Gross says — a process that included tweaking recipes and coming up with new sandwich ideas. Brosenbrus has an East Coast fan base for their delicious sandwiches, which include favorites like the Stacked Philli and Turkey Bacon Pesto, and come with a side of coleslaw, pasta salad or (amazingly delicious) potato salad.

Gross says the hardest part about being a new owner is that, unlike being an employee, the product that he is selling really belongs to him and Stewart.

“Everything that we sell, everything we do, the way this place looks — that’s ours,” he says.

This statement holds true even for the unique tables in the restaurant; Gross and Stewart put their own blood and sweat into building them from old shipping pallets.

Brosenbrus is furnished with pieces from Modern Manor, which is owned by Gross and Stewart’s friends Ryan and Kylie Durkin.

Though Gross is a Canadian native, he says “with the café, Phoenix has become my home.”

If you go…

922 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe.
480-704-3515, BROSENbRUS.com.
Monday through Wednesday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Friday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Contact the reporter at melody.parker@asu.edu.