After seven months in operation, Cans, a promising concert venue and deli on North Fourth Avenue, is calling it quits at the end of the year.
A lengthy post from management on the Cans Facebook page last week declared its last day open will be Dec. 31.
“This decision has not been an emotionally or financially easy one,” the post read. “Our experience running a venue has taught us many things, and we hope to have gained wisdom and spiritual growth throughout the process.”
Launched by Ben Schneider, owner of TallBoys at 600 N. Fourth Ave., and several business partners, Cans seemed to show up at the right time.
The space, previously occupied by the poutine restaurant U.S. Fries at 340 N. Fourth Ave., came with a deli at the front of the house and a bar and concert venue in the back.
At the time, Cans looked like it might fill the void being left behind by the North Fourth Avenue venue Flycatcher. Comparable in size, Flycatcher closed in July to make room for a proposed student-housing high-rise.
The deli side offered an option for those lamenting the closure of Shlomo and Vito’s, one of only a handful of traditional delis in the Tucson area, which closed in early 2017 after nine years in business.
“I’ve always loved the Jewish deli idea,” Schneider said in an interview with the Star in March. “The deli food I grew up on is another version of comfort food. I think making people feel comfortable is my main thing.”
But the traditional deli concept was short-lived.
Schneider and his partners started shifting direction of the menu to what Schneider described as “Jewish drunk food,” things like corned beef nachos and matzo ball corn dogs, shortly after opening, according to an interview he gave to This is Tucson in June.
“We were trying to stick with a traditional Jewish menu, but it’s kind of boring. And we’re not really digging the outcome of it that much, and the response,” Schneider said at the time.
Last week’s Facebook post said that ultimately, the deli concept was poorly executed.
“We quickly realized that what we were delivering was not what Fourth Ave. needed,” the post read
As a venue, Cans was active, hosting regular concerts and events, featuring local and national touring acts, since May.
But the space never had enough capital to compete with the likes of the Rialto or Club Congress, the Facebook post read.
Schneider said in a phone interview that several missteps were made on the venue side. It didn’t really cater to the college crowd and it failed to successfully cultivate any club or dance nights in its short time open.
Schneider said the entertainment options that were offered were often under-supported.
“I can’t believe how far off our expectations were,” Schneider said. “Everyone said that Cans had the best sound, but people would rather go see a band play for free down the street instead of paying for the experience.”
Schneider said TallBoys will be unaffected by Cans’ closure.