BKD's Backyard Joint aims to be community watering hole

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Brandon Sirochman, Dan Arndt and Kelly Cooper got together to create a space where all felt welcome and where the quality of food matched the friendly atmosphere. Together, they made BKD’s Backyard Joint, which debuted in Chandler in January 2019. ••The men had all previously worked in restaurants—particularly with restaurant chains—and wanted to strike out on their own.

“We all come from upscale restaurants with high-quality ingredients and high-quality menus,” Cooper said. “The difference here is heart.”

Heart, Cooper said, and chef Mark Coakley.

“This is a neighborhood place, and we built our menu for the people who come here; we’ve made a lot of adjustments based on what they wanted and their feedback,” Cooper said. “Everything here is heart cooking. The food is the heart of this place. Mark’s passion and recipes bring it all to life.”

BKD’s has a smoker, burgers, brunch options and desserts—including a rotating menu of cheesecakes made by Coakley’s daughter, who also works at the restaurant.

“We want people to come back and try different things on the menu,” Coakley said. “We are happy when they come back.”

Cooper said engaging with the community is important. The restaurant hosts a variety of evening activities—such as paint night, trivia night and karaoke—but also selects a charity every month to give back to. Cooper, a former Marine, said the restaurant has also become a place where people from various military branches congregate.

“We celebrate the Marine Corps birthday every year, and that is always standing room only,” Cooper said. “But we want people to know that they can come here. If they are looking for community, they can find it here.”

Cooper said BKD’s Backyard Joint was modeled loosely after an Illinois bar he frequented.

“The heart of the community, that’s what we want to be,” Cooper said. “We want to have that culture.”