Shot in the Dark Cafe was operating on a month-to-month lease when its California-based landlord evicted it early this month.
Pam Keiser, who runs the family trust that owns the building at 121 E. Broadway, said the group of employees that owns and operates the restaurant has never really had a lease. One of the owners on Monday said the restaurant had a yearly lease that didn’t end until September.
Phineas Ravenwood, one of Shot in the Dark’s 10 employee owners, clarified on Tuesday that the restaurant had been operating on a month-to-month lease.
The restaurant will close Jan. 25 after Keiser on Jan. 1 evicted the restaurant. The decision came following a visit last fall, soon after the cafe failed a Pima County health inspection. Keiser said the restaurant also failed to keep up the maintenance on the building and let it fall into disrepair.
Ravenwood admitted the restaurant failed the health inspection in August after its electricity was cut off for non-payment. The health department required the restaurant to make a number of repairs, which he said were completed in December.
Keiser said that at an August meeting she told the owners she planned to raise the rent from the $1,100 the restaurant had paid since her father first leased the restaurant the space 14 years ago. The rent had doubled in the past month and Keiser planned to increase it until it was $4,400 a month, matching comparable downtown rental rates, she said.
Keiser said she will make a number of structural changes to the building, including electrical work and installing a light in the alley.
The quirky, 24/7 diner is located next to the months-old AC Hotel by Marriott. The restaurant had a reputation for serving strong coffee, oversized burritos and overly generous portions of home fries. But it also had been known as a safe haven for Tucson’s disenfranchised communities, including young, low-income people and those identifying as LGBT.