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Exodus of 'snowbirds' during summer presents challenges for OV restaurant owners

Tuk Tuk Thai
Posted at 7:21 PM, Jun 04, 2024

ORO VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN) — Much like Andrew Christiansen discovered on Monday, a few restaurant owners in Oro Valley are also seeing a decline in revenue during the hottest time of the year.

The owner of Tuk Tuk Thai, Bud Sayso, is preparing for quieter months. The shop owner says as summer approaches, they see roughly a 25% decrease in sales.

“It’s like a double whammy. Labor goes up, our rent goes up every year, and then food costs are still climbing. Then our revenue is declining,” Sayso explained.

Sayso owns and operates three Tuk Tuk Thai locations throughout the Tucson metro area. He says if it weren’t for his most popular location in Tucson’s Midtown, he doesn’t know if his Oro Valley location could survive a summer with such little business.

“During the summer months, that location carries this one because we’re not profitable here," he said. "But at the same time, we can’t close the days that we want to because we have staff we have to carry all year."

Over at Fork and Fire, owner Josh Bishop shares a similar experience. The restaurant owner says business can decline as much as 40 percent compared to busier times of the year.

“I think there’s a big exodus of people beyond just the snowbirds. But the snowbirds do tend to go out a lot as well, and when they’re in town, we see them over and over and over again,” Bishop said.

Bishop says getting creative through weekly events is one way they continue to attract business during the summer.

“We shift our marketing strategy a little bit to find those families that are in Tucson in the heat and give them something to do and come out and have a good time and hopefully tell their friends,” Bishop said.

Both Sayso and Bishop emphasize the importance of their repeat customers in sustaining their businesses during this challenging time of year.

Kenny Darr is a reporter for KGUN 9. He joined the team in January 2023. Before arriving in Arizona he was an Anchor and Reporter at KADN in Lafayette, LA. Share your story ideas with Kenny by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.