Cactus Furniture


When you think of Tempe what comes to mind?  Downtown? ASU? Town Lake? A manufacturing city?

Did he say manufacturing?

While never considered a factory town, Tempe has had a modest share of mostly small-scale manufacturers over the years.

One of the most unique and one I will bet you never heard of was the Cactus Manufacturing Company. Before we go further, no they didn’t actually make spiny little succulents ─ they made furniture and novelties from the skeletons of spiny little succulents!

We know the company existed but unfortunately little else.

Here is what I have learned so far ─

The first notice of the C.M.C. appeared in the March 18, 1893 Tempe Daily News:

Fred W. Wood and T.E. White of the Cactus Manufacturing Company were in Tempe yesterday arranging preliminaries for putting in of extensive machinery for the company which has been ordered and is now on the way. It is expected to have the factory in complete running order within the next sixty days.

A brief second article on May 6th  reveals:

The machinery for the Tempe Cactus Factory is arriving and work on the large building commenced this morning.

And that’s the last we read about the company except for some tantalizing details that show up on October 21, 1893 when Tempe and the C.M.C. were in the national spotlight. Scientific American ran a feature article about the company’s inaugural display at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Apparently because few knew that anything useful could be made from cactus, the business received a medal and diploma “…for the novelty of the material and superiority of the work shown.”

From the Scientific American account we learn “The cholla is regarded as the best for cabinet work; for which the stalks are split, steamed, and flattened into boards.” Apparently confusing the saguaro with the cholla, the writer continues “…a fact more easily understood on remembering that the great size to which certain cactus plants grow in Arizona and Mexico.”

The writer notes that Mexicans knew “…the stems of dead plants (could be used) to make canes (and) sold to tourists as souvenirs.”

We discover that “Among the exhibited articles of cactus ware were canes, napkin rings, pick holders, smoker’s sets, match safes, inkstands and numerous other interesting small articles. But the novel material is by no means limited to such minor objects. Elegant stands, tables, easels, music racks, stools, fire screens, hat racks and mantelpieces were shown as proof of what could be done with the once-despised cactus.”

We believe the factory’s location was east of Mill near 3rd Street in the vicinity of today’s Tempe Mission Palms Hotel.

Although not definitively determined the Cactus Manufacturing Company possibly operated a retail store on Mill Avenue. Where it was, where the company was located in Phoenix, and how long they were in business are intriguing questions yet to be answered.

Given its bit of national prominence it is puzzling that no one seems to have any recollections of this mysterious piece of Tempe history.

And with such diversity of manufactured goods, it is also surprising that we don’t encounter relics from the Cactus Manufacturing Company.

In fact the only known piece attributed to the Cactus Manufacturing Company is on display in a second-floor bedroom at the Peterson House Museum at Priest and Southern.

A late-19th century stand table constructed from cholla cactus is on display at the Peterson House Museum. Although unmarked the table is attributed to the Cactus Manufacturing Company of Tempe.

A late-19th century stand table constructed from cholla cactus is on display at the Peterson House Museum. Although unmarked the table is attributed to the Cactus Manufacturing Company of Tempe.

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Noodles & Company Restaurant Review: Opening Day Blues


Opening day at Noodles & Company’s newest location in Tempe Marketplace was no secret. Just a couple hours until closing time and the line still curved from the ordering counter into the customer seating area.

A Noodles & Company employee hovered near the end of this line asking if we had been to this chain before. The two girls in front of me, as well as the couple behind me had all been so I didn’t get to hear his prepared speech. Despite not hearing his spiel the ordering process seemed easy enough.

Blown-up versions of the menu hang on the walls like gallery art making it easy to see the choices. The noodle menu reads like a ‘taste of noodles from around the world.’ Japanese noodles, pad thai, mac’ and cheese, bangkok curry and stroganoff dishes sit side to side. Under each picture of the dish there is a description as well as a suggestion for which meat to add. (Including tofu as an add-on for vegetarians.)

This being my first visit I was a little overwhelmed by the options so I went with the well-known American comfort dish, Wisconsin Mac’ and Cheese.

Noodles & Company doesn’t have a full bar but they do offer beer and wine to pair with their noodles. No draft beers though so I went with a soda. The machine they installed enticed me. It’s a silver, futuristic-looking machine that works like a touch screen. It’s a cool machine but there might be a learning curve before it becomes more efficient than the traditional soda fountains. On my first attempt I couldn’t get the machine to dispense me Coke, but I managed all right with the Dr. Pepper icon.

Drink in hand I managed to find an empty seat at the bar-counter. The wait for my food felt long for a place set up like a fast-food type of joint but considering the amount of people and it only being the first day, the wait wasn’t horrendous. And, maybe to make up for the chaos, all the staff were nice and smiling and seemingly eager to help.mac and cheese

The problem came with my food. I took my first bite into a cold meatball. I checked the rest of my meal to make sure it had been warmed up sufficiently. The rest of the meatballs were fine, if maybe a tad lukewarm where the air had hit them. My conclusion was that they had sat out too long under the counter before being delivered. The shredded cheese on top of my macaroni dish wasn’t melted and on one side of my bowl the elbow noodles were naked. The shredded cheese may have been for aesthetics but when some of my Mac’ and Cheese is missing cheese I get disappointed.

Considering it was Noodles & Company opening day they may have fixed these snafu’s by now. There are enough plus sides to warrant another visit but the next bowl of Mac’ and Cheese I eat is going to be one I make from a little blue box.

Country Thunder Music Festival moving to Tempe Beach Park


Very high level Tempe sources are reporting that the famed that Country Thunder Music festival in Florence Arizona is moving their four day event to Tempe Beach Park.  Over 200,000 country music fans enjoy this event, each year and are said to be excited for the new August 21-24, 2015 dates.  An official with the event, who wished not to be identified because she has the exclusive spray bottle concession, reported to Tempe Thoughts that the City of Tempe was considering hooking up large pumps into the lake and using fire hoses to water down the crowd.  However this is considered problematical by many experts in that the lake level would drop to a point that the 200+ house boats that the city is purchasing through an emergency budget allocation might bottom out with the weight of the Coors beer which is being donated by a well known local beer distributor.  “The food tax revenue for the month of July will do towards stronger spirits which will be given out to any Tempe resident or anyone that says they are a resident” reports a key official with the Town Lake Department of Commerce.

To reserve one of the thousands of camping spots in and around the lake concert ticket holders are encouraged to call 1-888-004-0115.



Tonnesen and Eater AZ

New Tonnesen Property

Check out what David Tyda wrote about our new project, The Strip in Eater AZ. “The Strip is the Next Hot Restaurant Space.” Came out today.

We’ve just broken 400 RSVP’s for the April 10th Modern Phoenix Kickoff party! It’s free if you are.


Tonnesen on EaterAZ

Improve Your Sales!

Tracy Bullock

All successful businesses have this one thing in common. They are always looking for new and innovative ways to drive sales. To address this need, we’re pleased to offer the business community a valuable workshop onThursday, March 26th.

Tracy Bullock

Tracy Bullock


Improving Sales Effectiveness – Presented by Tracy Bullock

Building the most effective sales force possible will make the difference between success and failure for any organization. Learn the top tips and tricks of the trade from Tracy Bullock, owner of Bullock Training and Development. Tracy heads the Business Development Council at the Tempe Chamber of Commerce and is an expert in training companies on the best methods for growth and value.

March 26th
Four Points by Sheraton
1333 S. Rural Rd.
7:30 – 8:00 – Registration, Networking, Breakfast
8:00 – 9:00 – Program and Q+A


Urban Living Tour


From the serene desert landscape surrounding Tempe Town Lake to the city’s bustling streets, Downtown Tempe is an urban oasis that boasts endless entertainment and recreational options both before and after sunset. From hiking and biking to dining and dancing the night away, there are a million and one destinations waiting to be discovered…and they’re all right outside your door.

From its recent influx of high-rise residential and commercial developments to its ever-expanding downtown business and shopping district that extends well beyond Mill Avenue, Downtown Tempe is growing up, and it’s apparent everywhere you turn. Downtown offers more than 100 restaurants, retailers and nightclubs that supply more than 20,000 jobs in the area, while the city’s impressive list of major employers offers career opportunities with the likes of Microsoft, LifeLock, Waste Management and Silicon Valley Bank.

Uniquely interconnected in every direction, Downtown Tempe offers Tempe Town Lake to the north, while Arizona State University sits east. The only walkable urban atmosphere anywhere in the Valley, Tempe’s entertainment district is home to a one-of-a-kind combination of eclectic tastes, eternal entertainment options, authentic Southwestern and global eats, and an endless variety of street performers who specialize in the weird, the wild and the whimsical.

Hundreds of marathons and triathlons draw world-class athletes to town each year while an abundance of community events attract everyone from culinary royalty to craft beer aficionados. Whether you’re drawn to the nightlife or simply seeking a little rest and relaxation in the form of sunbathing, kayaking or exploring the great outdoors, you’ll want to make Tempe your home.


All registered guests will receive a custom Downtown Tempe Swag Bag and receive parking validation for the Hayden Square Garage during registration & check-in. The first 50 people to RSVP will be entered to win 1 of 4 $50 Downtown Tempe gift cards. Hurry…RSVP NOW!

CAMP Returns to Tempe


The City of Tempe is excited to announce the return of the Community Assisted Mortgage Program (CAMP). For eligible first-time homebuyers looking to purchase a primary residence in Tempe, CAMP provides deferred loans for downpayment assistance and reasonable closing costs.
Tempe offers the program to help increase the rate of home ownership in Tempe, as well as serve as a catalyst for reinvestment within the community.

CAMP eligible properties include single-family homes, patio homes, townhomes or condominiums located within Tempe. Property must be vacant or owner-occupied at the time of purchase offer.

Applicant household income must not exceed 80% of area medium income. Assistance is in the form of a zero percent, non-amortizing loan.

First-time homebuyers are encouraged to apply.

For additional requirements and information, visit or call 490.858.2154.

TUHSD Safety Director Earns U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Award


Frank Mirizio, Executive Director of Safety and Security for the Tempe Union High School District, has been honored with the Outstanding Civilian Service Award. It’s the third highest award the Army can bestow upon a private citizen.  Nominees for this award must have performed outstanding service that makes a substantial contribution to the Army and its soldiers.

The prestigious award was presented by Lt. Col. Patrick Stolze, who leads TUHSD’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program and nominated Mirizio for his leadership, support and guidance of the JROTC program and its students, while Mirizio served as principal of Marcos de Niza High School from 2000-2014.

“For fourteen years, I had the distinct pleasure to work for the most amazing Principal at Marcos de Niza. Frank Mirizio made working at Marcos professionally fulfilling and a joy to come to work every day,” said Stolze.

In addition to the gold medal, lapel button and certificate that make up the award, U.S. Army Cadet Command Commander Major General Peggy Cone asked Stolze to present Mirizio with her Coin of Excellence. It’s a rare coin, often referred to as a “Challenge Coin.”

Mirizio said he is truly honored to be acknowledged and believes wholeheartedly in the program.

“I see JROTC the same way as kids who love being an athlete or a singer. This is their niche. This is their reason for getting up in the morning and going to school,” said Mirizio. “The discipline and work ethic these students learn is exceptional; they get good grades and are respectful.”


Frank Mirizio is awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for significant contributions while serving as the principal at Marcos de Niza High School, Tempe, Arizona, from July 2000 to June 2014. Mr. Mirizio afforded the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) cadets many opportunities to learn and grow though his personal endeavors. He reveled in the successes of cadets and took great pride in personally congratulating them on their accomplishments at the many JROTC ceremonies and events he attended. Mr. Mirizio’s leadership and dedication to the Army’s mission reflect great credit upon him, the United States Army Cadet Command, and the United States Army.

Sun Devil Stadium – Part 1

stadium 2

By Jay Mark

sun devil 1

Fifty-four years ago, an ambitious 10-month construction for the new Sun Devil Stadium schedule resulted in an opening-day delay resulting in the first game of the season against Hawaii on September 20, 1958 being played on the old Goodwin Stadium field on the south end of campus.

The new $1,000,000 stadium was ready October 4, for contest against West Texas State. A massive traffic jam of 27,000 fans, a heavy downpour and a less than stellar performance by the Sun Devils, which eventually bested WTS 16-13, marked a rather inauspicious debut for the new stadium – a disappointing start given how hard people worked to get it built.

Not only did ASU and Tempe have a new stadium, but it was also the inaugural season for Frank Kush who would go on to become the school’s most legendary coach.

As early as 1951 it was apparent that the Arizona State College football program had outgrown its second field, the venerable 1936 Goodwin Stadium with only 9400 permanent seats and extended seating to 16,000.

By November 1954 pressure had grown to a point that the Arizona Board of Regents appointed “…a (3-member) committee to investigate the possibility of a new stadium.”

During the 1955 football season the lack of seating had become so acute that according to Fred Sterns, the school’s ticket manager “…more than 12,000 fans tried unsuccessfully to obtain tickets for the Big Game with the U. of A.

Fan pressure reachedstadium cartoon its peak that year resulting in an “announcement by President Grady Gammage that he has placed a new stadium at the top of his list of building requests for the college…”

To re-enforce his argument Gammage said, “Good football has an important and proper place in the educational program of our great institution. It is imperative that an adequate stadium be provided without any further delay.”

Even The Arizona Republic joined the hot debate: “If Arizona State College rises in the football world, it must do so by playing top colleges. But what top-rated school wants its team to appear before a crowd that would hardly fill some college gymnasiums?”

Demand raged for more than two years. Rhetoric escalated. “Without a new stadium, seating at least 35,000 people, Arizona State’s athletic program faces strangulation,” was “…the dire prediction” of Graduate Manager Frank Rispoli.”

Finally, after years of debate, there was general agreement to build a new stadium. Now a location had to be found – imagine Sun Devil Stadium in Papago park.

$800,000, the original cost estimate, had to be raised.

And an architect and contractor had to be selected. Those parts of the story are for next week including a rarely seen photograph of the scale model used in the planning.