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Family-owned restaurant in midtown closing after 67 years

Posted at 4:55 PM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 19:55:41-04

Molina’s Midway, a family-owned restaurant in midtown Tucson that has seen the city change around it, will close May 19th.  Manager Louisa Miranda, granddaughter of the founders, said her family has decided now is the right time to close for good.

Elias and Louisa Molina opened the Mexican food restaurant, serving family recipes, in 1953. Their photo still hangs near the front door, just below a photo of their children, who now own the restaurant which sits on Belvedere Ave., just north of Speedway. 

“We're just ready to move on,” said manager Louisa Miranda, granddaughter of Elias and Louisa.

One of the first menus hangs behind the hostess stand. The current version looks different but still offers the much of the same food Elias and Louisa served. Many of the recipes aren’t written down, cooks know them by heart. But flavor alone can’t save a business in a changing city.

“Downtown opened up, and I love going down there, but that did take some [business] away,” explained Miranda. She also pointed out new growth in the neighborhood north and west of the intersection of Speedway and Swan now blocks the view of the building from Speedway. 

The struggles began a few years ago, she said.  Miranda didn't want to cut employees or their hours so she downsized the menu and increased prices. But she says the higher minimum wage is too much to overcome, “Small families can't absorb the cost of that like corporations can.”

She told customers Monday the restaurant will close and then made a public announcement on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Since then, Miranda says she’s been overwhelmed with positive messages.
On Tuesday, when the restaurant is typically closed, people stopped to take photos.

“There are so many great family businesses that have been here for so long and it’s sad to see something like this change and go,” said Jeanette Steigerwald.

Miranda says it is the customers and family who filled the old building who she'll miss most after she closes the restaurant for the last time. “This weekend we saw people celebrating a baptism they had a big party in here and there was a wedding in there and it’s just heartbreaking to know that’s going to end, but it is time.”