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UPDATE: El Molinito management issues statement on Casa Molina

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Posted at 3:33 PM, May 20, 2024

UPDATE (3 p.m., May 21):

El Molinito management, a spinoff restaurant brand with family ties to Casa Molina, issued a statement Tuesday on the future of Casa Molina.

The statement reads:

"For over 70 years, Casa Molina has been a cherished landmark in Tucson, known for its rich history and beloved by the community. After a devastating fire, the property, under previous management was left unrepaired and has since fallen into disrepair.

Our Family deeply regrets the impact this has had on the community and shares in the collective disappointment. We recognize the importance of Casa Molina to Tucson’s heritage, and we are committed to exploring all possible options to restore and maintain this iconic establishment.

However, the financial challenges posed by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs have made this a difficult decision. We are carefully considering the best path forward to honor the legacy of Casa Molina while navigating these economic realities.

We appreciate the community’s patience and support as we work towards a solution that upholds the spirit and tradition of Casa Molina."

The statement made no mention of the demolition permit.

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A demolition permit has been issued for the original Casa Molina location at 6225 E. Speedway, just west of North Wilmot Road.

Gilbert Molina built the location in 1947, as a way to showcase his sister's cooking, according to an Absolutely Arizona segment KGUN's Pat Parris produced in 2018.

Molina's son, Gilbert Molina, Jr., told Pat that his dad built the restaurant from the ground-up, right down to constructing the furniture.

Members of the Molina family opened several locations over the years, including Casa Molina del Norte, which is still in business today at 3001 N. Campbell Ave.

The different restaurant locations became destinations for celebrities filming and living in Tucson; John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor and Paul McCartney were among them.

The Speedway location closed after a grease fire in 2022 and never reopened.

The permit calls for the "demolition and removal of the 8,250 square-foot building in its entirety, including slabs and footing."