Tucson's lone Fuddruckers restaurant closed Wednesday afternoon, ending a 30-plus-year run here.
The restaurant at 6118 E. Speedway posted a sign on the door saying it was closing at 3 p.m. Aug. 8. An employee who answered the restaurant's phone Thursday morning said the sign was the first they were told of the move. Sixteen mostly full-time employees were affected by the closing.
Fuddruckers' closing, the second Tucson restaurant to close this week, was not entirely surprising.
There used to be a time in Tucson when Fuddruckers, with its crispy and fluffly housemade toasted buns, burgers cooked to order and a veritable salad bar of burger toppings, was the only so-called gourmet burger game in town.
That started to change around 2007, when Sam Fox introduced his gourmet Zinburger concept. National chains from Smashburger, Culver's and Freddy's to In-N-Out Burger and Five Guys made a beeline for our attention, opening restaurants in every area of town at a mad pace.
In the last few years, Fuddruckers started to lose its relevance in an overcrowded market. Employees said business had been in a steady decline leading up to Wednesday's closing.
13 Tucson eateries that closed their doors in 2018
El Torero — 231 E. 26th Street
South Tucson’s El Torero Restaurant temporarily closed after owner Brad Hultquist suffered a brain aneurysm, according to his brother and business partner Mike Hultquist.
Mike Hultquist on Friday said he expects to reopen the restaurant at 231 E. 26th St. in January.
Sir Veza's — 220 W. Wetmore Road
Sir Veza’s Kitchen & Kantina at the Tucson Mall closed eight weeks after owner Ray Flores finished a minor remodel of the restaurant and tweaked the concept from table service to fast-casual.
Flores, in a Facebook post, blamed the closure on “long-term” unresolved problems with the building he rents from the Tucson Mall at 220 W. Wetmore Road.
“We must close our doors effective immediately in order to determine if there will be sufficient repairs and other remedies made available by Brookfield Properties, our Chicago, Illinois-based landlords, to fully correct the situation,” he said in the statement.
Cans Venue & Lounge — 340 N. Fourth Avenue
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.
Las Margaritas — 6011 N. Oracle Road
Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant on North Oracle Road closed on Nov. 25, ending a family legacy of 65 years in the restaurant business, born in a small, unassuming dining room in central Tucson.
“Everybody who walks in that door, the only thing they say is, ‘It’s so sad.’ ‘I was engaged here.’ ‘I had my wedding reception, my anniversary here,’” Las Margaritas owner Terry Morse said Monday, recounting anecdotes from loyal customers once they learned that the 38-year-old restaurant will close. “It’s real sad. I don’t even want to work these next few weeks.”
Bird Bar & Chicken — 7109 N. Oracle Road
Bird Bar & Chicken — formerly Bird Modern Provisions & Bar in Casas Adobes Plaza, 7109 N. Oracle Road — served its last plate of shrimp and grits and spicy fried chicken on Sept. 14 before owner Brandon Katz and his partners decided to close for good.
“We financially could not continue to support the bleeding. It was a decision made on the financials,” said Katz, whose Fukushu Restaurant Concepts also operates Goodness and downtown’s popular sushi and ramen restaurant Obon. “We took a chance in an area of town that was lacking a certain demographic and food, and I think we accomplished what we set out to do, but we failed to message it.”
Fuddruckers — 6118 E. Speedway
Tucson's lone Fuddruckers restaurant closed in August, ending a 30-plus-year run here.
The restaurant at 6118 E. Speedway posted a sign on the door saying it was closing at 3 p.m. Aug. 8.
In the last few years, Fuddruckers started to lose its relevance in an overcrowded market. Employees said business had been in a steady decline leading up to the closing.
Zivaz Mexican Bistro — 4590 E. Broadway
Following a dozen-year run, Zivaz Mexican Bistro on East Broadway closed its doors for good in mid-July.
The restaurant, recognized by fans in the Arizona Daily Star’s Burger and Burrito Madness competitions, proudly advertised the burger accolade on the side of the building at 4590 E. Broadway for years after the 2013 contest.
The summer slowdown combined with an increase in the state’s minimum wage took a financial toll on the family’s restaurant, co-owner Cecilia Valenzuela said.
Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar — 150 W. Wetmore Road
In mid-May, just days over 13 months since opening at Tucson Mall, Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar closed its doors.
The restaurant at 150 W. Wetmore Road will close at the end of business Saturday, May 19, according to a Facebook posting Wednesday morning.
Twigs, specializing in regional American fare from pastas and pizza to osso bucco and crab mac and cheese, was the Spokane, Washington-based chain's most ambitious undertaking. In its 16-year history, the farthest it had ventured was opening an outpost in Salt Lake City.
Stray Dogs — 78 W. River Road
Months after initiating talks to sell their building at 78 W. River Road, the owners of Stray Dogs announced that they were closing in mid-January.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” said Tom Firth, the managing partner of Hacienda del Sol and a co-owner of Zona 78 on East Tanque Verde Road. “The business has been great. It’s just a lifestyle decision.”
The restaurant was known for their burgers and signature decadent milkshakes.
The building that housed restaurant is slated to become medical marijuana dispensary (and let the jokes commence...)
Rita Ranch Mama Louisa's — 7545 S. Houghton Rd.
Mama Louisa’s on Houghton, the shirttail cousin of the original Mama Louisa’s Italian Restaurant that’s lived on South Craycroft Road since 1956, closed in mid-April.
The move was announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page; no reason was given why the restaurant was shuttered after nearly four years in Rita Ranch.
However, fans don't need to sweat it too much: The original location on Craycroft Road is still open.
Pionic — 2643 N. Campbell Ave
Pionic Pizza, the only locally owned, fast-casual pizzeria in Tucson among a handful of chains, closed on Aug. 29, the casualty not so much of economics as family priorities.
“We did everything we could, but (business) did slow down quite a bit. In order for us to revive it would have taken a lot of money and effort, and for me family came first,” said owner Joyce Sinclair, who said she was torn between devoting endless hours running the business with her son Scott and caring for her ill mother.
Opa Greek Cuisine & Fun — 2990 N. Campbell Ave.
After more than 10 years of serving authentic Greek fare to Tucson, Opa Greek Cuisine & Fun on Campbell Avenue has called it quits.
A sign on the restaurant's door quietly announced the closing, which happened in early April.
Meanwhile, the Opa spinoff Opa Time Gyros and Salads at American Eat. Co., 1439 S. Fourth Ave., is booming. The restaurant, which is not affiliated with the original location at 2990 N. Campbell Ave., is proving to be one of the most popular of the six restaurants in the south side indoor food court.
Nimbus Brewery — 3850 E. 44th St.
Nimbus Brewery, one of Tucson’s oldest and longest-running breweries, closed in early May after a court-ordered receiver determined the business was saddled with crippling debt that made it impossible to continue operating.
Christopher G. Linscott said he changed the locks on the business at 3850 E. 44th St. hours before it was to open at 11 a.m. May 4. Nimbus’ final day was May 3.
“I shut it down because we did not have money to operate,” Linscott said Monday after a hearing before Superior Court Judge Greg Sakall in the ongoing legal battle between owner James Counts and his former wife, Patricia Counts.
May’s Counter Chicken & Waffles — 2945 E. Speedway
May’s Counter Chicken & Waffles, a popular dining destination for University of Arizona athletes and students and one of the only Tucson restaurants fully devoted to the Southern specialty, closed at the end of business on Aug. 7 owners decided not to renew their lease.
Tucson restaurant designer John Foster conceived the idea of May’s Counter in 2010, inspired by chicken and waffle restaurants popular in the South. He brought in Phoenix chef Aaron May — who is not the restaurant’s namesake — to help craft the menu; the Fields, who owned the lease, were also partners in the venture.
Luke's on Grant — 4444 E. Grant Rd.
After more than 20 years at East Grant Road near North Swan Road, Luke’s on Grant sandwich shop is closing on Saturday, June 23, the victim of a lost lease.
Jennifer Tilton, whose family has owned the restaurant the last 5½ years, said they are looking for a new location. Tilton is the granddaughter of Luke’s founder Luke Del Principe, who still runs Luke’s Italian Beef at 1615 S. Alvernon Way.
Kneaders — 3570 N. Craycroft Rd.
The Utah-based franchisee of Tucson's three Kneaders Bakery & Cafe restaurants shut down the North Craycroft Road restaurant at the end of May, one of three in Arizona that were closed after not meeting earnings goals, company officials said.
Classic Spaghetti Western Steakhouse — 1535 N. Stone Ave.
With little fanfare, the owner of Classic Spaghetti Western Steakhouse north of downtown is closing the restaurant on July 28.
Alejandro's Cafe — 31 N. Scott Ave
Alejandro's Cafe, located at 31 N. Scott Ave., closed its doors in the spring.
Abuela's Cocina Mexicana — 60 N. Alvernon Way
Abuela's could be on both the open and the closing list in 2018.
The Mexican restaurant in the former home of Old Pueblo Grille closed in March just 10 weeks after opening.
The restaurant at 60 N. Alvernon Way had apparently been losing about $1,000 per day, according to one of the partners involved.
“The concept, people just didn’t come,” John Aldecoa, who was a management partner in the project, said a day after the landlords locked them out. “I guess there’s just a lot of Mexican restaurants here.”