Jack's Original Barbecue longtime staffer Steve Rodriguez shown in May, when the owners said they would have to close if they couldn't sell the restaurant.


For awhile this summer, Greg Boccardo thought Jack's Original Barbecue might survive the summer and live to see another busy fall.

But after a promising start in June and early July, business began to tank as the temperatures rose in the past month.

Last Saturday, he did what he believes he should have done some time ago: he shut Jack's, the 62-year-old restaurant that set a standard for Tucson barbecue.

Boccardo owned the restaurant with his brother and father for the past 15 years. For years, business was good, buzzing along at the steady pace established by its founder and longtime operator Jack Banks.

In recent years, though, as the recession dragged into its fifth year, Jack's has seen daily revenue dip to levels that barely cover the cost to be open, Boccardo said.

"Essentially we need to be doing $1,400 to $1,600 a day in sales. We were doing $400 a day," he said.

In May, the Boccardos announced plans to sell the building at 5250 E. 22nd St. and close Jack's. Once word got out, the restaurant was packed with customers who hadn't been to the restaurant in awhile and wanted a final meal before it closed. The bump in business was enough to change the tide, giving the Boccardos hope that they could suffer through the summer and make it to the fall, when catering business - a big chunk of their revenue - picked up.

"It got really good there for awhile and we thought we would make it through the summer," Boccardo said. "But it started trailing off as the heat got hotter."

When it got to a point where the restaurant had just enough money to pay off its suppliers, the Boccardos threw in the towel, Boccardo said.

"We knew in the beginning that we didn't have any money and we were entering the worst time of the year, the summer, with no money," he said. "Nobody plans for a five-year recession. We had enough money to ride out two or three years. … We probably should have closed it a long time ago."

Boccardo said he kept on his employees through the month to help clean the 3,000-square-foot restaurant so that the Boccardos can either lease or sell it, Boccardo said.