Roughly two months after its mid-January opening in the former home of Old Pueblo Grille, Abuela’s Cocina Mexicana closed on Tuesday.
The restaurant at 60 N. Alvernon Way, owned by Jorge Alvarez, had been losing $1,000 a day since the opening, said John Aldecoa, who with his brother David was a management partner in the venture with Alvarez.
The Aldecoas, who own Brother John’s Beer, Bourbon & BBQ on North Stone Avenue, were hoping to become minor partners when the restaurant took off, but John Aldecoa said that never happened.
“The concept, people just didn’t come,” he said Thursday, a day after Abuela’s landlords locked them out. “I guess there’s just a lot of Mexican restaurants here.”
Aldecoa said Abuela’s, which took more than a year to open after they announced the concept in October 2016, fell behind financially last fall. In November, he said, they were served with default papers, the first step in an eviction process.
Aldecoa said they were able to reach a payment arrangement with the landlord and catch up on the arrears, but when the 8,147-square-foot restaurant opened, the financial situation became dire.
“We were losing $1,000 a day,” Aldecoa said. “We would have needed a major investor to step in and save it.”
The Aldecoas had helped Alvarez open the restaurant, which is unrelated to the brothers’ Stone Avenue restaurant.
Alvarez announced plans for Abuela’s more than year after Old Pueblo Grille closed in spring 2015. OPG owner Bob McMahon, once a Tucson restaurant titan, lost it in a tangled bankruptcy that also claimed his signature foothills steakhouse.