Editor's note: This story was originally published in January 2021.
The old Tucson Citizen building on South Stone Avenue will soon be home to a 10-room, wine-centric boutique hotel and tasting room.
“I am so enamored with that building and its history,” said the Tucson native, who was expected to begin the $2.5 million renovation of the building on Monday, Jan. 25.
Sand-Reckoner Vineyards, which has a Tucson tasting room at 510 N. Seventh Ave., will move its wine barreling and cellaring operation from its Willcox vineyards to the hotel’s 5,000-square-foot basement, where it also will open a tasting room, said owner Sarah Fox Hammelman.
“It’s very exciting,” Hammelman said. “That essentially gives us that 5,000 square feet of cellaring space. That really opens up the Willcox winery to process more fruit.”
The hotel and tasting room are expected to open in late spring, Lane said.
The collaboration between the winery and the hotel was born over a glass or two of wine, recalled Lane. She bought The Citizen Building for $1.45 million in 2018, about a year after Sarah and her husband/partner Rob Hammelman opened the Tucson tasting room in the Warehouse District. The couple initially commuted from Willcox and often stayed at Lane’s Downtown Clifton, where Hammelman and Lane bonded over their shared love of wine.
“I personally have always been interested in wine,” said Lane, who is working on getting her sommelier certification.
Lane told Hammelman about her plans to convert the Citizen Building offices into 10 guest rooms — five on the ground floor and five on the upper floor — with a glass-bottomed mezzanine looking onto a small lobby bar on the first floor. But Lane had no set plans for the nearly 5,000-square-foot basement — a rarity in Tucson — with its plastered-over volcanic rock walls.
Hammelman told Lane that she and her husband had been looking to rent a basement to expand their winery footprint in Tucson and that’s when the two women had their “a-ha” moment.
In addition to the tasting room, Lane said the hotel will promote Southern Arizona’s wine industry, offering wine country tours to Elgin/Sonoita and Willcox, including to the 12-acre Sand-Reckoner vineyards on the Willcox Bench.
“The whole hotel experience will also be wrapped around the Southern Arizona wine experience especially focused on Sand-Reckoner,” Lane said, adding that the hotel’s theme will be high desert with design nods to Sonoita and Willcox.
The Tucson Citizen Building at 82 S. Stone Ave., was built in 1913 and the Citizen moved in the following year. For 26 years, reporters, photographers and editors reported from the two-story brick building before the newspaper signed a joint operating agreement with its Arizona Daily Star rival in 1940. Under the federally approved agreement, which allowed the papers to maintain competitive newsrooms while sharing advertising and production operations, the two newspapers shared a building at 208 N. Stone Ave. The papers remained downtown until 1973 when they relocated to South Park Avenue.
The Citizen stopped publishing in May 2009; the Star late last year sold the south-side building and plans to relocate while most of its staff works remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lane said she decided to name the hotel The Citizen in honor of newspaper, which at the time of its closing was the oldest newspaper in the state; it published its first edition in 1870, seven years before the Arizona Daily Star was launched as the Arizona Star.
Equilibrium Real Estate Investments, owned by Lane’s lifelong friend Sofonias Astatke, is a partner in the project.
“I’m excited to be involved in any project that helps improve our city, that helps revive properties and brings a new dynamic to the city,” said Astatke, who was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Tucson. “That’s why I’m excited for this project.”
Astatke’s firm has several ongoing multifamily and commercial projects, including in so-called opportunity zones in Tucson. The Citizen Hotel is the company’s first hospitality development.
The Tucson area welcomed these restaurants and bars in 2020:
The Tucson area welcomed these restaurants and bars in 2020
81 Hong Kong Cafe
This cafe at 625 E. Wetmore Road, features an extensive menu of Cantonese classics.
Banhdicted, 1980 W. Orange Grove Road, says it brings Banh Mi with a "modern twist" to Tucson.
This cider house, 400 N. 4th Ave., is named for the sound chickens make — and it's the first cider house in Tucson.
Bellissimo Ristorante Italiano
The restaurant inside Casino del Sol has reopened with some contemporary updates using local sources.
Boulevard Barbecue & Fixins
The team behind Serial Grillers opened its barbecue restaurant at 5737 E. Speedway in October. Travis and William Miller have four Serial Grillers locations and two other restaurants.
Anyone old enough to have regularly read the comic strip, "Blondie," know that a Bumsted is an overloaded sandwich. The sandwich shop has moved and is now called Bumsted's at Wonderwall, 1003 N. Stone Ave. The menu is the same and karaoke has been added.
The coffee shop Epic Cafe was almost a goner. The business was permanently closed and put on the market earlier this year, when it was saved by new owner George Shaar. He gave the place a once-over and renamed it Cafe Maggie, 745 N. Fourth Ave.
This Southern California chain, which opened at 33 N. Sixth Ave., features some unusual offerings that has people lining up for the treats.
eHotPot, 243 E. Speedway, serves up Taiwanese food from curry chicken and Taiwan sausage to pinched dough beef soup and pork chop.
The restaurant at 1108 W. St. Mary's Road specializes in raspados and has drive-thru service. Of course there are other menu items.
When they closed the Tohono O'odham Swapmeet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of its food vendors struck out on his own to open his first brick and mortar restaurant. El Rustico, 2281 N. Oracle Road, serves grilled meats like carne asada, tripas and roast cabrito (goat), a specialty of Coahuila, Mexico where chef Juan Almanza is from.
Firetruck Brewing Company opened at 9630 N. Oracle Road in November. The company was formerly known as Sentinel Peak Brewing Company. Two other locations already open include 4746 E. Grant Road and 9155 E. Tanque Verde Road, and others are planned.
Frankie's South Philly Cheesesteaks opened a second location in Marana at 3780 W. Ina Road, between Mod Pizza and a new Lucky Wishbone.
Gamar Family Market
This Middle Eastern grocery now has a takeout counter in the back of the shop. The menu is simple but growing. It's at 1800 E. Fort Lowell Road.
Habanero’s Steak and Wings
The owner of Habanero’s Steak and Wings Restaurant in Tubac opened an additional location at 6910 E. Tanque Verde Road. Owner Armando Gill says the restaurant walks the line between casual and fine dining with a menu that covers dishes ranging from mole poblano chicken and enchiladas suizas to lamb shank and osso bucco.
If you want fresh churros made to order, this is the place to go. You can even get your churro customized with additional ingredients. It is at 1800 E. Fort Lowell Road.
Owner Amane Shakuchi opened Kiwami Ramen in the former Jack in the Box at 4610 E. Speedway. Shakuchi found the location earlier this year before COVID-19 had even started, but decided to keep the drive-thru for safety reasons when the pandemic hit.
The kitchen at L Station, 500 N. Fourth Ave., is headed up by Adrian Castillo, formerly of Lodge on the Desert, who's doing a mix of Spanish small bites like garlic mushrooms and blistered shishito peppers, as well as some flatbreads and salads.
La Chaiteria by Tumerico
Wendy Garcia, owner of Tumerico restaurant opened La Chaiteria in an old convenience store at 1002 W. Congress St. It's part restaurant and part vegan market.
La Chingada Cocina Mexicana
La Chingada Cocina Mexicana is a new effort by the owner of the popular southside sports bar The Neighborhood. The space at 31 N. Scott Ave. looks nothing like it was before, when it housed the casual burrito joint Alejandro's Cafe until it closed in 2018.
And there's a long bar area, which will serve custom margaritas and The Neighborhood's award-winning specialty, the michelada.
In a spot on Fourth Avenue that once sold crepes is now Lemongrass, which bills itself as an eastern Asian health food restaurant. Find it at 344 N. Fourth Ave.
Locale Neighborhood Italian
Locale Neighborhood Italian, 60 N. Alvernon Way, comes from restaurateurs Deborah Tenino and Nick Kreutz. This is the second restaurant for the pair, who are partners in Contigo Latin Kitchen at 3770 E. Sunrise Drive.
Med Cuisine's second location, 1763 E. Prince Road, serves classic Middle Eastern dishes and has drive-thru service.
MotoSonora Brewing Co.
After more than a year of hard work, heavy investment, and planning, brothers Jeff and Jeremy DeConcini were eager to see their new venture, MotoSonora Brewing Co., 1015 S. Park Ave., get off the ground.
Ni Hao Tea
No longer a sandwich shop, this location at 4726 E. Broadway, has a wide variety of teas and other beverages.
This is owned by the same Qais Papoutsis as Opa's Best in East Broadway. The menu at this restaurant on Fourth Avenue is much the same.
This restaurant, at 4951 E. Grant Road, serves flavorful Vietnamese dishes and also offers takeout and delivery via several delivery services.
Located behind the main dining room of Ermanos Creft Beer and Wine Bar, at 220 N. Fourth Ave., is a feat of modern engineering and serves modern cocktails.
Lauren Bailey opened her wine cafe in the 2500 block of East Grant Road with several other new restaurants.
Healthy fast food may seem like an oxymoron. but restaurateur Daniel Scordato is trying to make it a reality. The new restaurant at 6370 N. Campbell Ave., serves salads, sandwiches, healthful bowls and made-to-order pizza.
Public Brewhouse has opened its second location at 6720 E. Camino Principal, Public Taphouse. It offers beer on tap, wine and other craft beers in cans.
Pure Poke and Prep
Hoki Poki closed, but now Pure Poke and Prep has opened in the same location, 6501 E. Grant Road, so poke is still available. The restaurant focuses on traditional Hawaiian poke methods.
Rae's Classics Burgers, Fries & Pies
The mother and son team behind Fat Noodle ramen shop opened a "ghost" kitchen to sell classic burgers, fries and pies, as the name implies. The burgers are fresh and the takeout business will supplement lagging income from the restaurant that is serving at 25 percent capacity.
Raspados el Paraiso
The family-owned shop, which has been selling raspados, Tostilocos and other Mexican delights for the last five years, is one of only a handful of raspado shops on the east side of town. In 2020, the shop opened a second location at 7701 E. Golf Links Road.
Slice and Ice
One of the original founders of Eegee's, Ed Irving, opened this restaurant at 1905 W. Grant Road, selling pizza, sandwiches and Italian ice.
Snooze delayed its opening by three months after coronavirus hit and opened in July. The restaurant, at 2500 E. Grant Road, serves breakfast and lunch.
So Fresh Salads at American Eat Co.
One can find a simple menu of fresh salads here, some customizable.
This Indian restaurant opened in Marana mid-April, in the suburban shopping area Arizona Pavilions Marketplace, 5815 N. Arizona Pavilions Drive. Spice Garden is also the only place in town to serve South Indian food like dosas, the spongy Indian crepes eaten with coconut chutney.
Sydney's Sweet Shoppe
This new spot can fulfill the wishes of any sweet tooth, especially if that tooth craves pie. The shop sells pies and cakes at 8969 E. Tanque Verde Road.
The Marana location of this restaurant, 6741 N. Thornydale Road, will feature the same menu as the southside location: tortas, burritos, caramelos, and of course, tacos.
The Blacktop Grill
A former food cart, the restaurant, 8300 N. Thornydale Road, is owned by Gabe Ceniceros, whose crazy hot dog combinations include The Elotero with fire roasted corn, lime and Cotija cheese on top. The menu is a greatest hits of all the best stuff from his cart, and includes some sandwiches and quesadillas in addition to his all-beef hot dogs.
The Dapper Doughnut
With a name like The Dapper Doughnut, it must be a gourmet doughnut shop. This one opened at First Avenue and East Roger Road.
The Korean Rose and Taegukgi Korean BBQ House
Taegukgi, 6118 E. Speedway, is an import from San Diego, and is also the first all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue joint in Tucson. There's also a tea and boba spot in the front.
This rooftop bar is at the top of the new Graduate hotel at 930 E. Second St. The view from the patio bar is stellar.
Toss Fried Chicken and Ramen
Toss Fried Chicken and Ramen at 1655 S. Alvernon Way is owned by the same family as Izumi sushi bar on Speedway. Chef and co-owner Jake Lin said that his wife Cooky came up with the idea to pair fried chicken and ramen together because both of those items are trendy and well-liked by American restaurant-goers.
Toto's Taco Restaurant
This restaurant is part taqueria and part homey Mexican restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. It is at 1118 W. St. Mary's Road.
Tuk Tuk Thai
This restaurant serves what it calls Thai street food. Owner Bud Sayso came to Tucson in 2020 from Portland, Ore., where he owned a Thai restaurant.
Voltron Brewing Company
Named after a Japanese cartoon and the colaboration of two brewing companies, Voltron Brewing Company, 330 S. Toole Ave., began in 2018. In January, the colaborators opened their tasting room to the public.
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at email@example.com or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch.