This morning as I was reading the obits in the local paper I read that Douglas Marvin died.
Doug and his wife Rita ran some of the most popular restaurants in Tucson during the ’60’s and 70’s. We met then when I was doing an article on retro restaurants for the Tucson Weekly some years back and wanted to include their Iron Mask. The IM was the go -to place for special occasions or a truly fine dining meal.
They invited us to their home for lunch. Now, we were complete strangers, but the hospitality they showed us was absolutely wonderful. Both were so warm and charming. We had cocktails. Doug cooked up a great meal (pork roast, if I remember correctly.) The shared stories of their lives. How they met was so romantic. Doug swept Rita off her feet. He’d come from England and his visa was expiring and when he went to get the paper work started, there was Rita working at the office. It was love at first sight.
Doug was chef and Rita was hostess. They served turtle soup and Chateaubriand for two and pink diner wines. Those items may sound a little corny to modern tastes but those were elegant plates back then and were served in the all the best restaurants. One story they told was about Joe Bonano, the famous Mafia kingpin, who ate their regularly. His seat was always by the back door in case he had to leave quickly.
They ran several restaurants over the years, the last one being The Iron Mask. today the space is the home of Kingfisher. Some of the bar stools there are from the original Iron Mask with the letters IM tooled in rivets on the back. The huge refrigerator behind the bar is also an original piece from the IM. Oddly, one of the other restaurants they ran was located at Casa Adobes Plaza at the site of Kingfisher’s sister restaurant, Blue Fin.
Doug was influential in Tucson well beyond all the restaurants he and Rita owned.
Wishing you peace, Doug. Now you and your love, Rita, can be together again.