March 2 is last day for east-side El Charro

El Charro Café will close its El Mercado shopping plaza location on March 2, two months after it and the other tenants at the East Broadway shopping center were evicted to make way for a CVS drugstore.

The tenants were notified in late December that they had to leave. El Charro President Ray Flores said he was initially told he had 10 days to vacate the space, home for the last 17 years to the eastside outpost of the legendary Tucson Mexican restaurant.

Flores said he is looking for a new location, including a former Marie Callenders Restaurant at Broadway and North Wilmot Road. He also is exploring opportunities to expand in the Phoenix area, where he owns an outpost of Sir Veza's Taco Garage at Sky Harbor International Airport's Terminal 4.

The Flores family has run El Charro since 1922 , with five locations that today include the original Court Avenue location downtown and a restaurant in Oro Valley. Ray Flores also has two Sir Veza Taco Garage restaurants in Tucson.

Ajo Cafe open Saturdays through February

Ajo Cafe is hoping to cater to folks in town for the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show by opening on Saturdays.

That's a big deal for the quaint little coffee shop and diner that has been in the same nondescript brick building for 61 years and counting. Throughout its tenure, owners have tried opening Saturdays, but the notion never really stuck.

Longtime manager Judy Kenet isn't sure it will stick this go-around either.

"Right now it's just temporary," she said. "We have done it for the last couple years during the gem show. But this is the first time we've really advertised it."

For the next couple Saturdays, through Feb. 23, the restaurant at 3132 E Ajo Way will be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. It also will offer delivery service to gem show vendors. For details, call 294-1100.

Coming soon

Arizona is a key player in the franchise plans for Colorado's popular Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill.

Garbanzo plans to open 20 restaurants in Arizona, including three or four in Tucson, said franchisee Steve Morris.

"We're really bullish on the brand, and I love Arizona," said Morris, who has been a fan of Garbanzo's since the start and has worked in the restaurant industry for years. "I have spent a lot of time in Arizona, and I'm looking forward to developing it there."

The five-year-old company has four restaurants in Colorado and two others in Oklahoma and Texas, with four more locations opening soon. The fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant also plans to expand into California, Florida and the Washington, D.C., area.

Morris said he hopes to identify a location here this spring. If his timetable holds true, he plans to have the first restaurant under construction this summer and open by early fall.

"We're working with all kinds of different landlords, large power centers, some smaller centers," he said.

Garbanzo is known for fresh fast fast-food Mediterranean sandwiches, plates and salads with pita bread baked on premises.

Morris compared the restaurant's setup to that of a Chipotle, where customers go down the line customizing their meal with vegetables, meats and sauces.

Now open

• From the looks of the parking lot at lunchtime, Sam-Witches and Such is doing a brisk business in the former China Thai Cuisine spot at 6502 E. Tanque Verde Road.

The restaurant serves a menu of burgers and sandwiches sporting names like The Fireman (pepper jack cheese made even spicier with fresh jalapeños and pepperoncinis against the rich background of capicola salami), and The Plain Jane (a straight-ahead half-pound cheeseburger dressed to your liking).

It's open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. For delivery orders, call 203-7111.

Now closed

Woody's at 3710 N. Oracle Road closed in late January. The owner, who also has IBT's on North Fourth Avenue near downtown, is reportedly looking for a new location.

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