From drab to fab:
The Hatcher Road location of the Eye Opener Restaurant, shown before and after the property's dramatic transformation.
Hal and Susan Mokbel began thinking about renovating the property as early as 2003 when they started working with other business owners on what became the Hatcher Road Overlay. Their commitment to improving the community and to restoring their landmark property was grounded in the belief that "if you don't move forward, you'll go backwards."
Hal drew on many years of experience to prepare his own construction plan and budget. He projected needing $175,000. Because he and Susan knew obtaining a loan would be difficult, they began saving money to fund the project themselves.
Fortunately, the Mokbels obtained a small grant from Desert Mission/LISC/State Farm to help with early architectural fees, but they had to absorb most of the start-up expenses, including making the necessary improvements to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy before construction permits could be issued.
Then, with help from Desert Mission Neighborhood Renewal, they obtained a grant from the City of Phoenix. The grant paid for approximately 80 percent of the actual construction costs. Hal and Susan were able to secure financing for the rest of the project.