Word came down this weekend that Gio Taco, the Downtown taco joint where just two weeks ago I cohosted On the Menu…Live with Matt Russell radio program, closed with a memo from owner, Brian Metzger. Metzger cited lease issues but also noted that the concept just wasn’t working at that location.
This comes on the shirttails of another shocking closure. BlueFin, the incredibly popular seafood restaurant in Casas Adobes Plaza would be shuttering at the end of May, due to landlord issues.
About three weeks ago, a long-time midtown favorite, The Dish, sent out a press release notifying fans that after nearly twenty years they would close. The reason being that the owners just wanted to move forward with something different.
Whatever the reason, when a restaurant closes its doors, the community is affected. People lose jobs, suppliers lose a customer, and loyal diners will never again get to enjoy a favorite meal or cocktail. And in some hard to express way, the soul of the community dies a little. This is, after all, a small business, a small local business. Small businesses are the heart and soul of a community.
What’s happening with BluFin is a real shame. The restaurant has been at that location for ten years. The seafood there is wonderful; both basic and innovative. There’s a retro feel there. Jim Murphy and Jeff Azursky prepared all manner of seafood garnered from near and far. The wine list is all about smaller wineries. Cocktails are big and well built. The staff seem to love what they’re doing whether it’s the front or the back of the house. In other word. An ideal restaurant (and a money maker, I’m sure.)
The new owners are from out of town somewhere. Their actions speak of greed and ruthlessness; things all too common in the corporate world.
They have no idea what a gem they have in BlueFin and they’re doing Tucson a disservice by not coming to equitable terms with the folks there.
We can only take some comfort in the fact the Murph’s and Jeff’s other venue, Kingfisher is still in full swing.
Regarding The Dish, this decision was a least in the hands of the owners. The chef. Michael Muthart, decided to leave so he could build his chicken farm in Benson and with that news, owner Tom Smith, decided it was also time for him to move in another direction.
The Dish was an early mover and shaker in Tucson’s dining scene. They were one of the first places to feature mussels. The mussels were a real steal at $12.50 and they were one of the reasons Rachael Ray featured them on her show, $40.00 a Day. Other menu items were also outstanding; the kind of food you remembered for days.
The wines here were also amazing thanks to the Rim Runner wine shop which shares the same space. The Rum Runner will remain open.
The closure is sad news but it’s understandable. Nineteen years is a long time to run a busy, successful restaurant.
We wish everyone at The Dish the best.
I’m not really sure I understand why Gio Taco didn’t catch on. I loved the tacos there. They were always different, full of flavor (duck confit! Korean BBQ! Lettuce wrapped veggie tacos!)
Maybe it was the location. Granted it was on a busy corner and surrounded with student housing. But then again, if you were driving by and wanted to stop in, the traffic patterns made that extremely difficult.
There were also a few menu changes along the way. And two other restaurant openings.
Again though, we can take some solace in knowing that other Metzger Family Restaurants – Jackson Tavern and Poppy Kitchen are alive and well.
They’re not Downtown, but then not every great restaurant needs to be Downtown.