Cafe Monarch's History
Cafe Monarch first opened its doors in 2007. It was under different ownership and operated in a small, intimate setting, serving only a handful of guests in the kitchen. The chef/owner served brunch, lunch, and dinner in a kitchen smaller than most homes. Cafe Monarch grew in popularity and offered guests a market-driven, fresh prix fixe menu.
In 2013, the Lewkowicz family purchased Cafe Monarch. Husband and Wife Gustavo and Sofia Lewkowicz along with their sons' Phillip and Christian Lewkowicz, reopened Cafe Monarch in October 2013. Christian worked one season for the previous chef/owner and introduced his parents to the chef/owner Christopher Van Arsdale. Gus owning his leather manufacturing business called, Tribe America Leathers, has always had a dream of owning a restaurant of his own. So when the opportunity arose, the family purchased Cafe Monarch in the summer of 2013.
The restaurant would close every summer, so the Lewkowicz family had a few months to transform the original CM location. Soon after the purchase, Phillip left his job with corporate america and joined the newly formed family business. Together with Christian and Sofia the metamorphosis of CM had begun. The idea was to maintain the legacy, charm and uniqueness of CM but to offer guests an elevated experience. The family added a full bar, remodeled the kitchen space and refreshed both the exterior and interior of the restaurant.
After about a year of hard work and dedication, CM gained popularity and received its first national award of Top 100 Best Restaurants in America by Opentable. The staff at CM doubled in size and trained the staff through the prestigious Court Of Master Sommelier program. CM's primary focus is to provide guests with a memorable experience enticing all of the senses. The food, ambiance, music and service works together to provide guests an extraordinary experience only encountered a few times in a lifetime.
As Cafe Monarch grew in both local and national popularity, the venue couldn't keep up with the demand. The original building dates back to the 1960's and was built as a multi-tenant apartment/office space. The family had visions of expanding the restaurant to a beautiful building directly across the street. Phillip and Gustavo met with the owner of the new building and in February of 2017, the Lewkowicz family purchased the building. The new building was originally a cantera stone and home furnishings showroom. It was a perfect fit for the expansion. It still captured the intimate, romantic concept but gave it more of an upscale, elegant look.
Quickly, the family spent the first half of 2017 remodeling the space. The biggest transformations were adding a commercial kitchen and bar, outdoor courtyard and a 900+ bottle wine cellar. The former location still operates as a private event venue and is handled by Phillip's wife, Megan Lewkowicz.
After months of construction, the project was complete in December 2017 and Cafe Monarch from one night to the next, operated its first service out of the new location. The Lewkowicz family, originally from Texas, call Scottsdale home. They have embedded themselves in the community and love serving guests from all over the world. But they couldn't do it without their wonderful, top-notch staff. All the servers are at least Level 1 Sommeliers including some of the support staff. Currently, Wesam Kawa, the Level 3 Advanced Sommelier, has plans of training the staff to pass the Level 2 Certified Sommelier certification by mid 2020.
Cafe Monarch continues to evolve while maintaining a world-class, five star rating on review websites. But it's not about the reviews or the dining critics, it's all about the guests. It's about the passion for the restaurant and providing top quality food and beverage. It's about creating a memorable dining experience to remember for a lifetime.
Gustavo Lewkowicz, Executive Chef/Owner
Executive Chef and Owner, Gustavo, was born in Argentina and moved to New York as a child. His father is a third generation tailor and opened up his own leather manufacture business in El Paso, Texas. They sold all types of leather apparel including southwestern and biker styles. Gus worked together with his father and still owns his own leather shop as a fourth generation tailor.
Gus has always had a passion for cooking and is self-taught. He has learned throughout the years from immersing himself in the business. Gus also owns Tribe America Leathers in Old Town Scottsdale, footsteps from Cafe Monarch. Check out the website at www.tribeamericaleathers.com
Sofia Lewkowicz, Owner
Sofia Lewkowicz was born in San Diego, California and moved to Mexico City at a very young age. Her family moved to El Paso, Texas where she met Gustavo Lewkowicz. She raised her children in El Paso and to Scottsdale, AZ in 2001. Back in El Paso, she owned a full service salon/spa and catered to many high profile clients. She has a passion for interior decorating and art.
At Cafe Monarch, Sofia is in charge of all of the decor and ambiance for both locations. She spends her time every week doing fresh floral arrangements and enhancing the ambiance at Cafe Monarch. Sofia continually evolves the look and feel of the restaurant with the seasons, ensuring everything from the decor, uniforms, and lighting matches.
She makes sure that every guest at Cafe Monarch has a memorable experience in every aspect. She loves entertaining guests and welcomes anyone into the restaurant.
Phillip Lewkowicz, Operations
Phillip Lewkowicz was born in El Paso, TX and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona with his family in 2001. He graduated from Brophy College Prep in 2002 and later Arizona State University. Phillip handles all behind the scenes, day-to-day business operations for Cafe Monarch and Tribe America Leathers. His wife, Megan Lewkowicz, also works for the restaurant as a Private Event Coordinator.
Phillip worked for many years in the telecommunications industry as an outside business sales manager and brings his corporate experience to the restaurant. He also had a professional corporate/wedding band/DJ company that started out as a hobby and turned into a lucrative business.
His primary focus is maintaining a positive reputation in all aspects of the restaurant including, marketing/PR, HR, IT, accounting and vendor relationships. He is married with 3 young children and enjoys golf, real estate, cars, technology and spending time with his family.
Wesam Kawa, Advanced Sommelier
Wesam Kawa is a wine and hospitality professional, dedicated to enhancing every guest's drinking and dining experience.
His extensive experiences in the wine and restaurant professions have provided him with the knowledge and skills to help anyone, wine novice to advanced enthusiast, develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for wine.
After spending time in the U.S. Military, Sam committed himself to becoming an expert in the hospitality industry.
By experiencing a variety of positions in several successful restaurants, Sam has acquired a deep understanding of every detail required for a disciplined back-of-the-house organization, and the elegance and attention to detail for running successful front-of-the-house operations.
Sam is devoted to educating like minded individuals who grasp the importance of putting the guest's experience first.
Lorenzo Castro, Executive Sous Chef
Lorenzo Castro was born in San Francisco, California and moved to Hermosillo, Mexico at a very young age. In 2007, Lorenzo returned to the US and calls Arizona home. Cooking has always been a passion for Lorenzo as he learned from the ground up. He started out at a young age working as a dishwasher with aspirations of one day becoming a chef.
After years of working in multiple kitchens, he had the opportunity to work for Mirabel Country Club in 2011 as a pantry chef. This is where his culinary journey began. He worked under the Executive Chef and was mentored throughout his time there.
After Mirabel, Lorenzo was given an opportunity to be a Line Cook at Rio Verde Country Club. After 3 years and a promotion to Sous Chef, Lorenzo found his way over to Cafe Monarch. His hard work and dedication of becoming a Chef was achieved.
Lorenzo works hand in hand with Executive Chef Gustavo, to create the four course prix fixe menu. He is a integral part of the back-of-the-house and leads a team of 20 cooks. He has developed a deep understanding of flavors and has a great passion for the culinary arts. He has been at CM for 6 years and has become part of the family.
Ruben Brito, Chef de Cuisine
Ruben Brito was born and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. At a young age, he competed in the C-CAP competition (Careers through culinary arts program), winning a full ride scholarship to the Classic Cooking Academy. Ruben was classically french trained while attending Classic Cooking Academy, learning under the direction of head instructor Chef Pascal Dionot. Over the years Ruben has continued to further develop his cooking skills working at Deseo at the Westin Kierland Hotel resort and the Brix restaurant in Flagstaff.
Ruben has been with Cafe Monarch for 2 years and brings his many techniques of french and global cuisine to the table. He works directly with Executive Chef Gustavo and Executive Sous Chef Lorenzo to continually evolve the four course dinner menu. Ruben is always exploring different flavors and techniques and is inspired by the great chefs of the Americas, France and the local Arizona food scene.