Lamb Kafta

Lamb Kafta on the menu at the Nomads Global Lounge features ground lamb and feta patties, grilled roma tomatoes, Greek spices and a tzatziki dipping sauce.

Jake Bacon

Flagstaff isn’t the sleepy mountain town that it was during its early lumber heydays. It’s been put on the map thanks to its extensive art and food scenes, as well as its outdoor destinations which international travelers come to experience.

Historic Motel Du Beau owners John and Lisa McCulloch wanted to give weary travelers a place to wind down after their trip. They’ve owned the motel since 2000 but saw bigger potential for it.

“We recognized in the off season, and even during regular hours, that once somebody checks in, the lobby’s kind of dead,” John says. “It wasn’t creating a place that was attractive enough to bring people.”

Thus, Nomads Global Lounge was created.

Now almost exactly a year since its opening last October, John and Lisa are pleased with how their vision has evolved.

“I was thinking we were gonna have a small beer and wine bar with food as kind of an auxiliary addition to what would otherwise be a social environment for the travelers and locals to share their tales,” John says of their initial plans. “So the one thing that kind of caught me off guard was that we became more of a restaurant than a little beer and wine bar.” 

Some of the more popular small plates served at Nomads include lamb kafta, Yucatán chicken, hara bhara salmon cakes, and Aussie meat and ale pies. The goal in building the menu was to have a variety of unique dishes that encompassed the overall global theme of the establishment.

As positive word has spread, and with less than 70 seats and a small kitchen that prepares each meal individually, patrons may have to wait for food or tables during busy nights.

“Those are good problems to have I think,” John says.

The lounge is lit by soft bulbs, setting the mood for a relaxing evening with a tasty meal and new friends. A small bar to the left of the front door invites customers to choose from a careful selection of beer and wine poured by friendly bartenders who strike up conversations with ease. Several small tables are set up across from the bar, and then there’s a slightly more secluded section for groups to gather if they desire a more private experience.

Each piece of furniture and art was carefully selected by the McCullochs. From the light sconces above the bar to the decorations in the restrooms and the bar itself which John handcrafted, the lounge is a labor of love. Even the low fence enclosing the outdoor patio was designed by John and then built by Flagstaff company Artisan Metal Works. All in all, the whole thing took two years to complete.

“We didn’t go into debt because it took so long, and it also meant we had time to make the right decisions,” says John.

It’s the outdoor patio that catches the attention of most passersby. On a recent Saturday night, many of the comments made by people included admirations for the globe fire pit and the branches of ivy crawling up the red brick building, as well as compliments on their past experiences eating there.

Diners over the past year have certainly been good to Nomads—ratings on Yelp never stray lower than four stars and even that is a rare occurrence.

“I think you can have pretty good food but very good service and get a high rating, but you can’t have good food and bad service without people letting you know,” John says.

He works hard to make sure everyone who comes through the doors has a good experience. There have been times when he’s had to pick up the slack, but that’s just a part of the job that he has come to accept. He describes one night when an employee didn’t show up to work, leaving the kitchen short a dishwasher on a busy weekend.

“Just when I thought I was supposed to be up front helping, I was washing dishes all night,” he says. “That was tough but, as the owner, you gotta do what you gotta do—failure’s not an option.”

The lounge is his and Lisa’s invitation to travelers and locals alike to take a breather and indulge in some of the finer things in life.

As one Yelp reviewer from California wrote, “The essence of hospitality does still exist and is truly exemplified at Nomads.”

You can find John chatting up customers from behind the bar most nights and swapping travel stories. Stop by the lounge at 19 W. Phoenix Ave. during operating hours, Wednesday-Sunday from 4-10 p.m. Visit their Facebook page or www.modubeau.com/nomads-global-lounge for more information.

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