Apache Junction City Councilman Joe Severs has spent the last dozen years designing East Valley bar/restaurants, then turning them over to other owners, watching them become some of the bestknown nightspots in the Valley: Sugar Daddy’s, Dos Gringos, the Library.
"Everybody that I build for is rich today, and they weren’t when I was working for them," he said.
So he and his wife are getting into the business for themselves today, only they’re starting at the other end of the spectrum with a 50s-themed health-food diner.
The Star Lite Cafe is across the parking lot from their Fitness Works at Brown and Recker roads in Mesa, and there’s a World Gym across the street.
The idea is to give these and other health-conscious people someplace to go besides fast-food outlets or buffet-style restaurants offering huge portions, Brenda Severs said.
"I used to go to the gym for a couple of hours and get out starving, and you need to eat within two hours," she said. "Where can I eat? I don’t want to go home and cook, so you kind of defeat the whole purpose," she said.
Joe Severs said he’ll be building a bar in Scottsdale this fall and another in Tempe in the winter, then hopes to open at least two more Star Lite Cafes, in Gilbert and Scottsdale.
Brenda Severs will help the chef of the enterprise, and spicing inspired by her native Puerto Rico will jazz up dishes, based on chicken, rice and other low-fat alternatives. "It’s not going to be a little paradise 100 percent, but it’s going to be at least 50 percent better than what you were eating," she said.
Joe Severs said elected office has made it easier for him to put some nights offlimits to his work and spend evenings with his family.
"Being on the council has slowed me down, which is a good thing," he said.
Their two daughters will work at the restaurant. Shania, 9, learned the ropes of waitressing during a sneak preview earlier this week. "I made $48 in tips, and I gave $10 to the cook," she said.
If you go
What: Star Lite Cafe grand opening
When: 6 to 10 p.m. today, with a ribbon-cutting by Sheriff Joe Arpaio at 6 p.m.; live entertainment, car show at 6:30 p.m.
Where: 6060 E. Brown Road, Suite 101, Mesa
Information: (480) 807-1612