Ahwatukee Foothills News: Local Eateries

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Local Eateries

Keegan’s Grill in Ahwatukee gets new ownership

Steve Johnson is used to the fast-pace world of fast food on the pacific islands, but now that he’s an Ahwatukee Foothills resident he’s looking forward to slowing down and taking on a different challenge as the new owner of Keegan’s Grill in Ahwatukee. 

Allison Hurtado
A bartender pours drinks at Keegan’s in Ahwatukee. [Allison Hurtado/AFN]

Steve Johnson is used to the fast-pace world of fast food on the pacific islands, but now that he’s an Ahwatukee Foothills resident he’s looking forward to slowing down and taking on a different challenge as the new owner of Keegan’s Grill in Ahwatukee. 

Johnson has been working in restaurants since he was 15 years old.

“Restaurants have always been in my life so I should stick with what I know,” he said.

Johnson grew up in Nebraska, working various restaurant jobs there. Eventually, he found himself in charge of several KFC restaurants and Godfather’s Pizza stores in Nebraska. When he went to Hawaii on his honeymoon and ran into a man who was in charge of all the KFCs in the Asia-Pacific region and he was offered a new opportunity, the decision was easy.

Johnson spent 26 years operating KFCs, Burger Kings, and Pizza Huts in Hawaii, Fiji and Samoa. Now he’s ready for a new challenge and came to a restaurant convention in Phoenix to search for restaurant opportunities. Here he was introduced to the owners of Keegan’s, who’ve been doing business in the Phoenix area for more than 25 years and the concept really appealed to him.

“I thought this was great food,” Johnson said. “I’m use to fast food, drive-thrus, all that. I’ve always wanted my own place that was kind of an Irish Pub-themed casual dining. I thought maybe this could work for me.”

Keegan’s has three location in the Valley. One was sold to a longtime restaurant manager, another was sold to the chef that started the concept. Johnson was able to claim the third location — the Ahwatukee location. He now has an option to purchase the intellectual property and open more Keegan’s locations in the future.

“I think it looks promising where I’d like to build another two, three, four in the Phoenix area,” Johnson said.

For now, Johnson is focusing on getting to know his staff and managers. He said the regular staff has stayed after the change in ownership, but he is accepting applications to fill a few more slots. He doesn’t want to make any drastic changes to the menu, but he wants to improve the overall experience.

Johnson does plan to do some upgrading to the aesthetics over the next year. The building will get some new signage, new landscaping and new misters for the patio. Next summer Johnson said he’ll remodel the interior.

Keegan’s in Ahwatukee is located at 4723 E. Ray Road. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, visit keegransgrill.com.

• Contact writer: 480-898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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