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COVID consequences close South Tucson landmark

Rigo’s was known for good food and politicians
Posted at 7:29 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 21:29:26-05

SOUTH TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — COVID’s knocked out a piece of our local culture. Rigo’s, a beloved local restaurant in the City of South Tucson has served its last meal.

For some people in South Tucson the shutdown of Rigo’s is like losing part of their family.

South Tucson Mayor Roberto Teso says at 21 years old, Rigo’s was a relative youngster by South Tucson standards where many restaurants go back forty years or longer but it had a very strong following.

“It has always been packed, you know, a very exciting place. They've always had live music on in the restaurant, and many many people you know would come in there.

Mayor Teso says Rigo’s attracted celebrities and evolved into a gathering place for city and county politicians

“(Pima County Supervisor) Sharon Bronson, (former Supervisor) Ramon Valadez and several others would gather together quite frequently there. They had special plates that were named after them.”

Now Rigo--Rigoberto Lopez says his Rigo’s Restaurant in Benson will be his only one--at least for awhile. He says the South Tucson location is a COVID casualty. The self-serve buffet that was a Rigo’s trademark was hard to pull off under COVID rules that restrict self service and service to-go wasn’t making enough to cover his costs.

He says he got behind on his mortgage, the lender foreclosed and the South Tucson location became a menu of memories---but they’re proud memories--- of feeding a community’s appetite and maybe it’s soul.

He says, “Thank you so much to my customers and my family for the true support.”

Mayor Teso says losing Rigo’s will leave a hole in South Tucson’s culture and its economy but he says his town still has a strong group of restaurants to keep customers coming.

As for Rigo himself, he says he’ll keep serving in Benson while he slows down a little and decides what he’ll do next.