KGUN 9 On Your SideNewsAbsolutely Arizona

Actions

Saguaro Corners shines bright after 66 years

Posted: 1:36 PM, May 02, 2022
Updated: 2022-05-04 11:29:24-04
Saguaro Corners neon sign

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Saguaro Corners is a legendary restaurant on the eastside, tucked away next to Saguaro National Park. It is as well known for its historic sign as it is for its burgers, tacos and ribs.

"Even in this day and age, I think they're all surprised to see it sitting there," said Sherry Baran.

She is describing the reaction people have at coming across Saguaro Corners Restaurant near the entrance of Saguaro National Park.

The iconic sign reminds patrons and passers-by that Saguaro Corners has been around since 1956.

Saguaro Corners sign

It began as Saguaro Corner -- a hamburger stand with a couple of gas pumps out front.

It was an actual oasis in the Sonoran Desert.

Saguaro Corner built in 1956

"At that time, Escalante was never paved," recalled Baran. "Most of Spanish Trail was not paved. We were sitting out in the desert with absolutely no one."

Sherry Baran is the granddaughter of Bert Calvert, who built the red and white stand on land he acquired as payment for a debt.

It was right across from what was then known as Saguaro National Monument. Sherry often visited her grandfather's new business as a little girl.

Calvert family as Saguaro Corner (Now Saguaro Corners) was being built in 1956

"There was six tables and it was just one room," Baran said.

Sherry's father, Frank Calvert, took over the restaurant after Bert Calvert died in 1963.

Along with Sherry's mother, the Calvert's phased out the gas pumps and grew the business into the areas most popular lunch and dinner spot.

"The bar was the major place that people came in and got something to eat," remembered Baran. "As it grew, we just kept adding on and adding on to the dining rooms."

Sherry and her brother Bob worked at Saguaro Corners as well. When their father Frank died at the age of 90, they decided to sell the restaurant.

"It was kind of the only decision we could come up with," Baran said. She called it a tough decision. "It still is," said Baron.

Ten years later, Saguaro Corners is thriving under new ownership. They have added patio dining and expanded the menu.

You can still get a burger, like the original roadside stand, but now they're well know for their tacos and baby back ribs.

"I like to say we have the best ribs in Tucson with a nice mustard-style barbecue sauce," said owner Dave Musso. "It's pretty great."

Also great, the views at Saguaro Corners. They remain unchanged, despite the housing boom in the area.

"We're often in the running for some of those great views in Tucson," Musso said. "It's all the resorts in the mountains and Saguaro Corners. It's kind of neat. It's an experience."

Part of that view includes the iconic sign, which has been upgraded.

"We were able to get a little neon on there and really takes it to the next level," said Musso. "When you see it at night it's pretty gorgeous as well. Yeah, you can't miss that sign. It's one of the best ones in Tucson for sure."

Saguaro Corners neon sign

A sign that helps carry on the Calvert family legacy.

"It's nice that they've carried on the name," said Baran. "It's a little heartbreaking for me at times. But I am happy for them."

Musso said people often stop in and say Saguaro Corners was where they had their first job or even their first date.

It is also where Sherry Calvert, now Sherry Baran, met her husband of 25 years.

——-
Pat Parris is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. He is a graduate of Sabino High School where he was the 1982 high school state track champion in the 800 meters. While in high school and college, he worked part-time in the KGUN 9 newsroom. His father, Jack Parris, is a former general manager of the station. Share your story ideas and important issues with Pat by emailing pat.parris@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.