Jasmine Mediterranean Restaurant and Market on North Oracle Road will close its doors on April 10, ending a 3½-year run as the go-to place on Tucson’s north side for certified halal meat and groceries.
Store owner Saba Alsafar said last week that she and her husband/business partner, Monadhil, weren’t able to extend their lease at 3906 N. Oracle Road. The couple missed a deadline — 90 days before their lease was to expire late last year — to exercise an option to stay at the San Francisco Square plaza, on the corner of West Roger and North Oracle roads.
Alsafar said she notified representatives for the landlord around the 90-day mark in December that she would be out of the country and asked if she could exercise the option when she returned. She said she was told that it would be fine, but when she returned she was told she missed the deadline and the lease would not be renewed.
Sue van Ellen of Partners Management, which manages the plaza, said the Alsafars never contacted her about renewing the lease.
Van Ellen said the lease was extended to June, but Alsafar said they decided to close sooner because it wasn’t financially feasible to continue stocking food that might not sell in time.
“We’re already losing customers because they know we’re closing,” she said.
Alsafar said the couple, who invested $100,000 into Jasmine, has no plans to move to a new location. She estimated it would cost them at least $30,000 to reopen, and it could take several months to get the requisite city permits.
The Alsafars have lived in Tucson for nine years after arriving among a wave of some 6,000 Iraqi refugees who settled in Arizona between 2008 and 2014. They became citizens five years ago. Saba Alsafar has degrees in math and architectural engineering and teaches at the Southwest University of Visual Arts; her husband, who was a medical doctor in his native Iraq, is a medical researcher.
CBRE broker Nancy McClure, who is the leasing broker for San Francisco Square, said there is no tenant lined up to replace Jasmine. But the plaza is talking to a national retailer to take the 17,500-square-foot anchor space that was home for several years to Jo-Ann Fabrics. That store pulled up stakes and moved to Oracle and Wetmore just over three years ago.
In addition to Jasmine, San Francisco Square is home to Red Wing Shoes, Western Dental and the Japanese restaurant Samurai.
Other Tucson markets that specialize in halal-certified products — products that meet Muslim dietary laws that include no alcohol and that meat products (non-pork) are slaughtered according to Islamic zabiha guidelines — include Caravan Mideastern Foods at 2817 N. Country Club Road, which has been in business since 1987; Babylon Market at 3954 E. Speedway, which has been open since 2009; and Nur Import Market at 3565 E. Speedway, which has been in business since 2007.