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Friday, October 30, 2020

Southern AZ COVID-19 AM roundup for Friday, Oct. 30: More Than 1500 New Cases Today; Total AZ Cases Top 244K; Ducey Says “Storm Ahead” but Not Planning New Restrictions; TUSD Returning to Classroom; Gem Show Canceled; Other News of the Week

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2020 at 10:02 AM

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With 1,565 new cases reported today, the number of Arizona’s confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 244,000 as of Friday, Oct. 30, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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Pima County had seen 28,296 of the state’s 244,045 confirmed cases.

With 16 new deaths reported yesterday, a total of 5,934 Arizonans had died after contracting COVID-19, including 639 deaths in Pima County, according to the Oct. 30 report.

The number of hospitalized COVID cases has declined from July peaks but has ticked upward in recent weeks as the virus has begun to spread more rapidly. ADHS reported that as of Oct. 29, 900 COVID patients were hospitalized in the state. That number peaked with 3,517 hospitalized COVID patients on July 13; it hit a subsequent low of 468 on Sept. 27.

A total of 898 people visited emergency rooms on Oct. 29 with COVID symptoms. That number peaked at 2,008 on July 7; it hit a subsequent low of 653 on Sept. 28.

A total of 188 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds on Oct. 29. The number of COVID patients in ICUs peaked at 970 on July 13 and hit a subsequent low of 114 on Sept. 22.

On a week-by-week basis in Pima County, the number of positive COVID tests peaked the week ending July 4 with 2,452 cases, according to an Oct. 29 report from the Pima County Health Department.

Pima County saw a big bump in cases following the return of UA students, followed by a steady decline and then a big bump upward. For the week ending Sept. 19, 1,230 cases were reported; for the week ending Sept. 26, 615 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 3, 533 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 10, 465 cases were reported; for the week ending Oct. 17, 512 cases were reported; and for the week ending Oct. 24, 829 cases were reported.

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Thursday, October 29, 2020

DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails Closing

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2020 at 11:04 AM

JANOS WILDER / COURTESY PHOTO
  • Janos Wilder / Courtesy photo
In more bad news in the restaurant sector, Chef Janos Wilder has announced that DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails is ending its 10-year run, and will not reopen its doors. DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails was known for serving high-quality dishes inspired by cuisines from around the world, as well as Sonoran flavors. After COVID closures, the restaurant reopened this summer, but re-closed after only a few weeks, and will stay that way.

“This is unmistakably a tremendously hard time for small businesses, especially restaurants the world over,” Wilder said in a prepared statement. “For me personally it has also been an opportunity to take stock of where I am in my career and ask myself, is the day to day of running a restaurant really the best use of my time now?”

After more than 50 years of working as a professional chef, Wilder announced he will use this time to focus on his family.

In addition, Wilder's Carriage House will continue its catering and group event business. Wilder will produce and present a series of online cooking classes: "Cooking in the Time of Covid" which will feature easy to prepare meals at home.

"These last 10 years downtown have seen a rebirth of our urban core," Wilder said. "The pandemic is a setback and my heart aches for so many that are struggling to keep their doors open. Even in these challenging times, I am constantly amazed and inspired by the innovation and creativity of the next generation. Downtown Tucson will continue to thrive in the years to come. Like the desert we live in, we are a resilient community. I am so grateful for all this city has given me and my family and I am eager to continue to serve the community moving forward.”

Friday, October 16, 2020

eegee's Expanding to Phoenix in 2021

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 12:03 PM

FILE PHOTO
  • File photo

The Tucson-based restaurant chain eegee's has announced their plans to expand to the Phoenix area in 2021, with five new locations slated throughout the Valley. The openings will begin in the second quarter of next year and take place in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale and two locations in Gilbert.

While eegee's has expanded to two dozen locations throughout Tucson (and one in Casa Grande) since 1971, this marks the first time the restaurants will operate outside of Southern Arizona. Various locations throughout the Phoenix area already serve frozen eegee drinks, but none are a full restaurant.

The company was bought in 2018 by a partnership of 39 North Capital and restaurant investor Kitchen Fund.

In addition to expanding north, eegee's also plans to open seven more restaurants in the Tucson area in 2021, although the exact locations have not yet been announced.

For more information, visit eegees.com/locations

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Cafe Poca Cosa to Close

Posted By on Thu, Oct 15, 2020 at 2:46 PM

Chef Suzana Davila at Cafe Poca Cosa. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Chef Suzana Davila at Cafe Poca Cosa.
After 35 years in business, Tucson's beloved Cafe Poca Cosa announces plans to close due to coronavirus concerns and the corresponding economic downturn of Tucson's service industry. 

Owner Suzana Davila said after giving her "heart and soul" to Cafe Poca Cosa over the years, she is choosing to shut her restaurant down after experiencing "many months of great anxiety" because of the pandemic's impact on the cost of operating an eating establishment with limited occupancy.

“Clearly, this is not how I imagined my business would culminate. I always envisioned passing the business on to my hardworking children who have been actively involved in the business for many years”, said Davila. “The continued threat of Covid to the restaurant and hospitality industry is ever-present.  With fixed costs of doing business and rising food costs, along with restrictive seating limits, we just do not see a profitable way of continuing."

Originally located in a small space at Scott Avenue And Congress Street, Cafe Poca Cosa earned a name for itself serving fantastic Mexican culinary wonders that became a destination for foodies from around the world.  Davilla, with her sisters Marcela and Sandra, helped put Tucson on the culinary map long before UNESCO came calling.

"I feel incredibly privileged to have been part of our wonderful downtown for all these years," Davilla said.  "I would like to thank the people of Tucson for all the goodwill and assistance they have provided over the years."

Cafe Poca Cosa's sister restaurant, The Little One, remains open as a grab-and-go market with limited outdoor seating. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Hotel Congress to Reopen Oct. 1

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2020 at 10:45 AM

COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
The cornerstone of downtown's culture scene is reopening on Thursday, Oct. 1 after more than six months of pandemic shuttering. While their doors have been closed, Hotel Congress announced they've kept busy by working on a new menu for their Cup Café, a new cocktail list for the Hotel Congress, and a calendar of upcoming live music.

"Every city and every neighborhood loses an essential part of itself when local history and culture are lost," says Hotel Congress owners Shana and Richard Oseran in letter to the community. "But the Cup Cafe, Club Congress, Copper Hall and 40 hotel rooms will soon be back and better than ever. The cultural hub will once again serve the community, which holds the true ownership of this historic landmark."

With the reopening comes a series of new events in the Congress plaza: Rhythm & Roots Taco Tuesday features Americana music and tacos from 6:30 to 10 p.m.; Soul Food Wednesday runs from 7 p.m. to midnight; and Blues & BBQ runs Sundays from 4 to 8 p.m.

Cup Café's new menu includes vegan breakfast tacos, mussels, hemp tamales and cauliflower tacos. Hotel Congress' new cocktails include specialty martinis, sidecars, margaritas and Manhattans. Cup Café now also features a Bloody Mary bar from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

For more information, visit hotelcongress.com

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Online Class Teaches the Fine Art of Entertaining Guests Featuring Whiskey Del Bac

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2020 at 12:30 PM

WHISKEY DEL BAC
  • Whiskey del Bac
You don't have to be a dowager socialite to entertain guests like a pro. You just quality provisions and a certain culinary skill set.

Flying Aprons is moving their in-person cooking classes online via Zoom starting Thursday, Sept. 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

This week's class, Shaken Not Stirred-Single Malt Whiskey Tucson Style & Savory Bites—featuring Tucson's own Whiskey Del Bac—pairs Phoenix mixologist Jax Donahue with beloved Tucson chef Devon Sanner to produce three delectable food and libation experiences you'll learn how to recreate at home:

First Cocktail: The S.S.S with Whiskey Del Bac Dorado, honey syrup, citrus bitters and other ingredients.
First Savory Bite: Prosciutto-wrapped fig, honey + chamomile goat cheese, thyme, prickly pear gastrique.

Second Cocktail: The Lawless Drinker, using Whiskey Del Bac Old Pueblo, passion fruit, vermouth and lemon.
Second Savory Bite: Ginger and lemongrass shrimp spring rolls with coconut and peanut dipping sauce.

Third Cocktail: Stone Fashioned, features Whiskey Del Bac Classic, peach syrup and other ingredients.
Third Savory Bite: Pecan and basil pesto bruschetta with heirloom tomato, balsamic agrodolce.

Registration for the Zoom class is $40 per screen and ready-to-go kits for the cocktails and savory bites are available to preorder and pick up before the class begins.

Click here for more information.

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Pima County Delays Permit Fee Increase for Restaurants

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2020 at 3:56 PM

LOGAN BURTCH-BUUS
  • Logan Burtch-Buus


The COVID-19 pandemic has financially impacted a lot of economic sectors, but local restaurants remain one of the hardest hit sectors and they continue to struggle as Arizona and the larger United States fight to control the spread of the virus.


Because of this, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to delay a previously scheduled restaurant permit rate increase and provide credits to businesses that have already paid the higher fee.


According to a county press release, the fee increase was originally adopted in 2016 as a way to recover costs incurred by the Pima County Health Department Consumer Health and Food Safety department. They perform regular restaurant safety inspections and have recently been tasked with enforcing increased health and safety standards in restaurants related to the current public health crisis.


The fee was planned to increase gradually over five years, and the supervisors’ decision yesterday will delay the final increase of 25 percent. The county says these extra costs were partially offset by their Restaurant Incentive Program, which allows restaurants to save up to 25 percent on their permitting fees if they adopt certain practices such as having a certified food handler on staff, eliminating trans-fats in their food and posting nutritional information on their menus.


Restaurants can still apply for these savings through the program, as it is not affected by this recent change in fees. It is currently unclear when the fee might be reinstated.


“The pandemic was a big blow to many local restaurants. We’ve strived to support our restaurants as they adapt, while keeping the broader community safe,” said Director Loni Anderson of the Consumer Health and Food Safety Division. “We know that the vast majority of restaurants have a passion for what they do, and want to do right by their customers. The Restaurant Incentive Program, and today’s delay, are designed to benefit restaurant owners, and the whole of Pima County.”


For more information, visit www.webcms.pima.gov/health/food-safety.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Fourth Ave News: Dillinger Brewing Company to Open Taproom; Epic Cafe to Close

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2020 at 3:55 PM

Dillinger Brewing co-owners Eric Sipe and Aaron Long. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Dillinger Brewing co-owners Eric Sipe and Aaron Long.
Downtown Tucson will be getting another fantastic taproom, by a fantastic local brewery in one fantastic location by 2021.

North-central Tucson's Dillinger Brewing Company is opening a second location at the southeast corner of Ninth Street and Fourth Avenue in the former space of The Coronet. 

"To have that level of visibility is going to be awesome," Dillinger Brewing co-owner Eric Sipe said.

Sipe and his business partner, Arron Long, said they had been looking for a new space to open a more central located taproom, but the pandemic put the brakes on that—at first. They're excited to be opening a second location in the heart of downtown, according to Long

"This kind of fell into our lap and we couldn't turn it down," Long said. "It the right size for us and it's got a great outdoor area that has great foot traffic."

The two owners still plan on keeping their original taproom open but plan on explaining their brewing capacity, according to Long. While brewing won't take place at the new spot, the owners plan on creating a barrel-aging program in the the space's two 200 square-foot rooms.

"Our current spot is going to host production and brewing atmosphere," Long said. "The downtown location will feature our specials and barrel-aged releases."

Long said the property's landlord has been willing to work with the brewery over concerns of opening during the pandemic, considering Gov. Doug Ducey extended the order to keep bars, movie theaters and tubing events closed until the virus' number decrease.

"We have complete confidence (the landlord) is willing to with us completely in the event at the shutdown lasts longer," Long said. "Every apprehension we was eased by how cool the landlords are being."

Down on the other end of Fourth Avenue on the corner of University Boulevard, Epic Cafe—the hipster coffee house loved by artists, students and aspiring writers—has decided to call it quits due to slow sales during the pandemic.

Owner Kimberly Flagg said she planned on reopening on Aug. 15, but with coronavirus lingering on and uncertainty looming, the owner decided it's better to close the doors and try to sell the late-night hangout spot. Flagg took over Epic Cafe in 2016 when the business was previously experiencing hard times. It's been in business on Fourth Avenue for roughly a quarter century.

"I'm pretty devastated at the moment. We really hoped to reopen on Aug. 15 on the condition the pandemic would be under control, the U of A would be open and doing face-to-face classes, that we would get some more funding to dig ourselves out of the COVID hole," Flagg said. "But it didn't happen so I put the 'for sale' sign up because if somebody could come in and buy it, Epic doesn't die."

Flagg said she's received several offers to take over her lease but only if they can change the concept. That's a non-starter for Flagg.

"I don't want someone to buy it and turn it into something else. I want someone to buy it and keep it Epic," Flag said. "I bought it because I didn't want to see this cafe close. If somebody loves Epic and wants to keep it Epic, come see me."
 

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