TUBAC — A popular Nogales, Sonora, restaurant that closed last year because of a devastating drop in business has moved north of the border to Tubac.

Elvira's restaurant saw business plummet last year when customers from the U.S. stopped coming, partly because of the recession and partly because of fears over drug-related violence.

"It's good they opened here," said Jody Bloodworth, a longtime customer from Texas, who was visiting the new location. "It is a sad situation (violence at the border)."

Named for the owner's grandmother, Elvira's in Nogales, Sonora, had been in operation since 1927. Last year owner Rubén Monroy Jr., had to close it, along with La Cucaracha, a discotheque next door.

"A lot of tourists stopped coming (because of the violence), and then the economic downturn," he said. "Also, now they need their passports to cross, and a lot of people don't have one."

Tucsonan Bob Feinman, a member of the Nogales, Sonora, chamber of commerce, said it's sad to see traditional places like Elvira's closing.

"It's a loss for the community," he said. "But at the same I'm happy to learn that settled families from Nogales like the Monroys continue offering their services."

Monroy said it was his customers who encouraged him to open in Arizona. He estimated 95 percent of his customers came from the U.S.

His idea was to open a new location in Arizona and keep the Sonora one operating. He started working on the project a year ago, but the decline in tourism forced him to close and focus on the new place.

"I always had in mind coming to the U.S.," said Monroy, who offers the same menu, but in a more modern and upscale setting.

He did a good job, said customers at the new location in La Entrada de Tubac, a retail development in Tubac, about 45 miles south of Tucson.

"It's lovely, different and bright," said Betty Walker.

The restaurant, decorated with crafts from Mexico, is attracting new customers, and some from Nogales, Sonora, now come north, said Monroy.

The family plans to keep the Nogales Elvira's building on Avenida Obregón, along the international border, and may reopen if tourism picks up again, Monroy said.

Elvira's

The restaurant is located at La Entrada de Tubac, 2221 E. Frontage Road, in Tubac.

• Phone: (520) 398-9421

Contact reporter Mariana Alvarado at 573-4597 or malvarado@azstarnet.com