Five years ago Ahwatukee Foothills resident Joe Busone made headlines when his firing from a corporately-owned restaurant caused many of his employees to walk out with him. Those employees inspired him to open a restaurant of his own, and over the weekend of June 1 the business celebrated four years of doing what the staff loves.

Fired Up Grill celebrated its anniversary with deals on beers, wine, appetizers and live music. Busone and his wife, Cathy, say it was busy but it was fun to see how far they’ve come.

“It’s been four years and we’ve changed,” he said. “You have to change.”

Busone said he has enjoyed being back in his own restaurant and having the freedom to change at will and explore foods from all parts of the world. He said they at one time had a monthly menu, now they bring out new items seasonally.

“It’s fun to see what we can do next,” Busone said. “We’re going left one week with Moroccan food and then we switch to South America next week, just because we can, because we have so many creative people. It makes it fun. I think it’s what keeps the staff fired up and the guests fired up. They all don’t know what will happen next.”

In four years Busone said his staff has grown slightly with more chefs helping out in the kitchen. He’s been able to promote managers so he 

can focus more on the food. While many of the staff that came with him from Buca di Beppo have moved on to other careers, there are still a few who have stuck around.

“I’ve really been fortunate to meet a lot of great young people who will be great adults for what they’ve done for me, not just with the walk out but to help me come and open this up,” Busone said. “I didn’t have to train these guys. They all could have been managers… My staff is just real.”

His store was performing well and guest satisfaction was high when Busone was fired. While Busone still thinks he was fired unjustly he and Cathy said all things happen for a reason.

“I love it where I am,” Busone said. “This is more me than anything. It allows you that philanthropy piece, which is difficult to do from a corporate place. This is where I’m meant to be.”

The restaurant is known for its involvement in the community. They often host fundraisers for groups and have even invited elementary school classes in for field trips.

Fired Up Grill, 7131 W. Ray Road in Chandler, has live music on the weekends and happy hour every day with drink specials and half-priced appetizers. For more information, call (480) 940-4040.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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