Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Closed: Tucson Restaurants

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2007 at 12:40 PM

In my Noshing Around column this week (July 19), I mention some restaurants that have recently closed such as Evangelo's, Metro Grill at Park Place, Famous Sam's on 29th Street, and Apple Farm & Bakery.

Because my column is limited for space, I wanted to comment further—but more importantly, I wanted your comments.

I was pounding the keyboard looking for some statistics about restaurant closings, but all I could find were growth numbers on the Arizona Restaurant & Hospitality Association. I believe the general rule of thumb is that 50 percent of restaurants fail within the first year; that's an incredible investment and risk.

Sometimes I can walk in a restaurant, look at the menu, have a less-than-inspired meal along with mediocre service, and know that it won't be around for another year. I walk out wondering: What were they thinking?

Evangelo's has been around for a long time as a westside bastion. Maybe it had something to do with the freeway closing and lack of access; maybe it was just old and tired. 

Don't get me started on anything Metro Restaurant-related. In 2003, Metro Grill at Park Place got a good review but fast-forward four years, and it's run out of steam. Have tastes changed that much? Has quality taken a dive?  

As for Famous Sam's on 29th Street, according to an article in the Star, the owner said the smoking ban has hurt business, but other Famous Sam's seem to be thriving, so who knows?

The Apple Farm and Bakery at Grant  Road and First Avenue was an odd duck. From the outside, it looked like a check cashing place—garish, big and yellow with red trim. Although it looked like a chain, it was not. It was owned by a guy who had recently moved to Tucson from Riverside, Calif. There, he owned another restaurant by another name. Why he named it the Apple Farm and Bakery is unknown, as Tucson is not known for its apples. I went in there once a few years ago at noon and was the only person inside. I am amazed that it lasted as long as it did.

I forgot to mention that Alejandro's closed. It was where DaVinci's used to be. It served Italian and Mexican food. I had not been there; I don't know why: It didn't last a year. Now the family-owned Las Cazuelitas will be going into that spot. They already have locations on south Sixth Avenue and Grant Road just west of the freeway.

So, let's talk about why restaurants close. Will you miss any of these restaurants? What's important to you when you dine out? 

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