TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Wildcats are back in the Old Pueblo and that means more traffic for local businesses on University Boulevard.
Inside Cafe Luce, barista Tabatha Holan, said it’s more than coffee, it's building a community.
“It’s been overwhelming and wonderful at the same time,“ said Holan.
Students returned to the University of Arizona this week and she said it’s refreshing seeing so many Wildcats face-to-face since.
“During the pandemic, we had to reduce our hours a lot. Some folks would come in to use the wifi for online classes, but for the most part, it was just grab and go,” said Holan.
Over the past 15 years of serving up cups of coffee, she said the coffee shop has not seen anything like the pandemic.
Now that wildcats are back— she says business is booming and it’s brought back her favorite part of the job— meeting new people.
“Learning what they do at the university, what they’re studying, what their goals are, what their life journey is,” she said.
Customers like incoming freshmen Talia and Elena from Minnesota.
“It kind of feels like home— finding a little nook to hang out in,” said Talia.
Down the street, the return of students means everything to local business owner Darin Osenberg.
Snakes and Lattes opened its doors just as students were getting ready to head home for the summer.
“It was a big challenge when we opened, but we got it opened and we’re really thrilled,” he said.
Osenberg said his restaurant is a good place for students to grab a drink, play some games, or grab a coffee and write a paper.
“Just today with move-in my business is up 70 percent— just today,” he said.
Coffee sales are where he said he is seeing a big boom.
With the students staying for the next nine months, he sees it as a way to grow.
“The people who have come in here and found us have come back regularly. So, we’re thrilled with that. There are a lot more people that will be visiting us to give us a lot more opportunity to develop a long-term guest," said Osenberg.