Ted’s Country Store, on North Tucson Boulevard near East Glenn Street, will close its doors for good at the end of business Saturday after nearly 34 years.
Ted Contes and his wife, Angie Contes, opened the store in August 1980 as the only local specialty store in the area, selling imported and domestic gourmet groceries. The store’s country decor and deli added to its appeal, and it soon became a popular lunchtime destination.
Several years later, at 90 years old, Ted was ready to retire. The business was sold to another couple who owned it for a short time, before the store’s current owners, Peter and Sheila Butterbrodt, bought it in 1997.
The Butterbrodts ran the business as Ted had, catering parties, serving up its popular deli sandwiches and selling gourmet foods. Most popular among its customers has been “Ted’s favorite sandwich” and a lobster bisque the deli serves on Fridays.
A little over a year ago, though, the couple decided to eliminate groceries and focus on the deli, catering and beer and wine sales.
“Albertsons and Safeway were selling the exact same things,” Peter Butterbrodt said. “And they could get them at better prices than an independent can.”
And now the couple has decided to close Ted’s completely.
“It’s time for us to move on and do something a little different,” Peter Butterbrodt said.
The Butterbrodts are entering a partnership to open a Jerry Bob’s restaurant at North Silverbell and West St. Mary’s roads. “We’re looking at a May 1 opening,” he said.
They are optimistic about their new venture. “It’ll be very successful,” he said. “It’s a really nice area, well established. And there’s a lot of growth.”
Ted’s Country Store had seen a decline in business the last few years. Part of that was due to a sluggish economy.
The other part was growth on Tucson’s west side and in downtown, Sheila Butterbrodt said. “People have many, many more choices than they did 13 years ago, and it’s made it a little harder.”
Nevertheless, the couple will miss Ted’s. “We’ll miss our customers the most,” she said. “We have amazing customers who have been super loyal to us, and that’s the hardest part.”
Diane Dale, a Tucson artist, has been a loyal customer since the Butterbrodts bought Ted’s. “I’m very sad,” Dale said. “Best BLT ever. I guess I’ll stay in my studio and paint ’till I find out where they are to get my BLT.”
Customer service also kept Dale going back. “They’re always ready to try and make their customers happy,” she said. “If I’m not eating a BLT, I’m dieting, so they always try to make something special that I would like.”
At lunch Tuesday, Dale said she heard customers lamenting about where to go for lobster bisque after Saturday. Lucky for them, the Butterbrodts plan on serving it at the new Jerry Bob’s when it opens.