Brooklyn Rolls is expected to open in the old home of Abe's Place by mid-July.

A New York City native is bringing his favorite Brooklyn flavors to a new spot just south of the University of Arizona stadium.

John Ryan hopes to launch his New York-style deli, dubbed Brooklyn Rolls, at 1628 E. Sixth St., in the old home of Abe’s Place, by mid-July.

Ryan was born in Canarsie, Brooklyn, grew up in Midwood, not far from where Ebbets Field once stood, and is a New York University alum.

He’s worked in restaurants most of his adult life, but he didn’t create his Brooklyn Rolls concept until he found himself 2,000 miles from home, in the small resort town of Whitefish, Montana.

Ryan moved to Montana so his kids could be closer to family. His father-in-law was the city’s fire chief.

A bout of homesickness led to the creation of Brooklyn Rolls.

“I missed Brooklyn,” Ryan said. “I missed the food, the people.”

Ryan initially opened a food cart in Whitefish that was specifically designed to cater to the late-night crowds.

“All the restaurants in Whitefish close at 10, but the bars would stay open until 2,” he said. “People were hungry. We were making deals with the bars to deliver food to the customers right at their seats.”

Ryan eventually turned his lucrative mobile business into a brick-and-mortar location in the nearby city of Kalispell in 2018.

When an opportunity outside of the food service industry presented itself in Tucson, Ryan opted for a change of scene.

He has since sought to give Brooklyn Rolls a new life, in an effort to bring Tucson what he calls an “authentic New York deli experience.”

Brooklyn Rolls will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and will offer foods synonymous with New York City, Ryan said.

Bagels and bialys, shipped in from Long Island, will be available for breakfast, alongside pastries and baked goods, such as cannoli, knishes, pignoli cookies and pizzelles.

Sandwich options will include chicken, shrimp and veal parmesan heroes, and pastrami and carved corned beef options.

In the evenings, the menu will consist of a rotating list of specialty entrees, Ryan said. 

“From 7 to 10 at night, you never know what you are going to get,” he said. “We are going to have meals that aren’t available anywhere else.”

Pending liquor license approval, Brooklyn Rolls will have a full bar with an emphasis on craft beer and cocktails.

Tailgate parties will be held every weekend during football season to cater to the university crowd.

Ryan said once things are up-and-running on East Sixth, he’d like to see a second location open in the downtown area.

“I am so proud to be from Brooklyn,” Ryan said. “It has such a diverse heritage, so many different people with different culinary tastes. I want to bring that experience to Tucson.”

Reporter

Gerald received his journalism degree from the University of Maryland. He has been with the Star for 16 years and has covered a variety of beats. Currently, he divides his time between the presentation desk and as a member of the digital team.