By Annette McGivney | Photograph by John Burcham
The three things Cecily Maniaci says she loves most in life are owls, food and vintage furniture. She used to joke with friends that her dream was to run a business somehow involving all three passions. In November 2015, that dream became an unlikely reality when the Toasted Owl restaurant opened in downtown Flagstaff.
Located along the original alignment of Route 66 in Flagstaff’s historic Southside neighborhood, the restaurant is unique not only for its owl theme, but also because it doubles as a vintage store. It’s furnished with pieces Maniaci has collected from antiques shops — along with a wide assortment of owl knickknacks — and everything is for sale.
Maniaci says she sought to create a space with a “homey and eclectic atmosphere.” But that’s an understatement. Some 25 different chandeliers, each one vaguely reminiscent of the 1970s and with a handwritten price tag attached, hang from the ceiling. Every table, chair, plate and coffee cup is different. “I have been finding treasures for the restaurant everywhere I go, which brings me such happiness,” she says. “We sell a lot of lights, plates, and salt and pepper shakers to people who come here to eat.”
And Maniaci isn’t the only person who is owl crazy. Restaurant patrons bring her all kinds of owl décor, including vases, lamps and figurines, which line shelves above windows covered with owl curtains. The restaurant also recently held an owl art contest, and customers voted to select the winners.
The Toasted Owl’s décor is wonderfully mismatched, but the food is consistently delicious. Breakfast, served all day, reflects Maniaci’s culinary tastes, which steer away from greasy Tex-Mex fare and focus instead on healthy, fresh ingredients. The breakfast tacos, for example, pack a punch with minimal yet flavorful ingredients such as black beans, soy chorizo and house-made salsa. For people with hollow legs, there are chai-spiced pancakes as large as dinner plates. A lunch menu features burgers, sandwiches and salads. Pastries are made fresh every morning, and gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian breakfast and lunch options are available.
The restaurant is also kid friendly, with bins of toys and owl books that children can take to the table while their parents enjoy a mimosa from the full bar. And a large, dog-friendly patio faces Mike’s Pike Street, formerly part of Route 66. On sunny summer afternoons, the patio is filled with customers sitting in tacky lawn furniture, basking in the sun and, shall we say, toasting the owl. The business has been so successful, in fact, that Maniaci opened a second location on the east side of town in February.
“I have to pinch myself every morning when I wake up to know that this is not a dream,” Maniaci says. “It just goes to prove that if you do what you love, then everything else will follow.”
The Toasted Owl is located at 12 S. Mike's Pike Street in Flagstaff. For more information, call 928-774-5326 or visit www.thetoastedowl.com.