Zachary's Pizza, the once-popular UA area store-front eatery, will close for good at the end of business July 29, ending a 24-year run as one of Tucson's most enduring pizza restaurants.

The closing comes amid a perfect storm of bad economic conditions — four years of declining revenues coupled with increased food costs. On top of that, the restaurant's building on East  Sixth Street, owned by the University of Arizona, has fallen into severe disrepair, from cosmetic issues including chipped paint and worn carpets and flooring to drainage issues.

On Tuesday, a pair of workmen from the UA were among the crowd of folks packed into the steamy restaurant at lunchtime. As the workers scurried off on their task, the diners filled tables in two small dining rooms and the bar that divides the room. A single server shuttled between both rooms, carrying heavy pans of crispy deep-dish pizza, heavy beneath the weight of cheese, meats and veggies. A second server came in to help with the lunch crowd some time after noon.

The crowds have been consistent since word got out two weeks ago that Zachary's would likely close — a decision that owner David Ellis has come by reluctantly, said his daughter, Jessica Ellis.

When contacted last week, David Ellis insisted he had not made up his mind to close and refused to discuss the issue. Restaurant officials were also at a loss then to confirm the closing, although they were telling diners that it was 90 to 95 percent certain it would close.

The closing comes as Zachary's lease with the UA is set to expire. Jessica Ellis said the UA is not kicking them out nor is it not offering a lease renewal. But the restaurant has become too costly to run.

"With the economy crashing, it’s been a really rough last three or four years," Jessica Ellis said. "(David Ellis) should have closed two years ago and he’s been trying to keep it artificially inflated for employees and customers in hopes things would turn around."

  Read the full story in Wednesday's Arizona Daily Star.