TUCSON, Ariz. - There’s new life on the menu for one of Tucson’s oldest and most iconic restaurants. Lerua’s is ready to make a comeback with a boost from Rio Nuevo.
Lerua’s handled cravings for Mexican food for 97 years---owner Mike Hultquist says sometimes that was on an emergency basis.
“I have been woken up at three in the morning to get people green corn tamales for pregnant wives; and I did it because they say…’Gotta help me she wants tamales’ Okay I’ll meet you there.”
But Lerua’s closed more than a year ago to make way for more lanes on Broadway.
Now it’s making a comeback in a new spot a few blocks away. The Rio Nuevo development district voted to give Lerua’s a five hundred thousand dollar loan to open the new location.
Rio Nuevo chairman Fletcher McCusker says the loan fits the district’s plans to create a busy, money-making zone of restaurants and retail along Broadway.
“Our mandate is to use state sales tax dollars to increase state sales tax though so we typically invest in things that produce sales tax, retail, food, beverage, hotels, those kinds of things.”
Rio Nuevo used the same rationale to help Rocco’s Pizza move to a new location when the Broadway project threatened that restaurant.
Mike Hultquist says it’s important to be able to re-open on the same street where Lerua’s served so many customers. He says it’s hard to know when he’ll be ready to open, with coronavirus concerns and the challenge of getting any restaurant ready to go but he’ll be grateful the day the customers can come back.