Rusty's overcomes challenges to stay open, one year after shutdowns

Rusty's overcomes challenges to stay open
Posted at 9:09 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 15:35:39-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — One year ago today, Mayor Regina Romero began shut-downs of public places, like gyms, bars and restaurants. Rusty’s Family Restaurant & Sports Grille owner Anita Freedlander says it’s been a journey, but one that’s taught her and her team the importance of never giving up.

“A year ago today, you were here and I was here. We just found out that at 8pm, because of COVID, we had to close our doors and I thought I was done,” she told KGUN9.

After she got over the initial shock, she started telling some of her staff members to file for unemployment.

“I can only keep a key few people and I chose seniority, but also those who had children to feed. So I ran with two cooks, two girls and myself, and I was the delivery girl,” she added.

Then Freelander found herself scrambling to find to-go supplies.

“Everything was gone. Forget about social distancing because I, the owner, was out on the streets trying to get whatever I could from whatever store.” she said.

Freedlander says figuring out payroll has been the biggest headache after that, but they improvised and got through it-- one day at a time.

This was a feat that Freelander says wouldn’t have been possible without the community’s support.

Daniel Diaz comes into Rusty's, from time to time, with his son.

“We like it. It’s awesome. My son likes it here. He eats the spaghetti. They have good food. Good prices for their beers and stuff like that,” he told KGUN9.

“There are no words to describe how much they came through for me and it just made it possible to keep our doors open,” added Freedlander.

Here’s her message for folks who find themselves struggling during the pandemic.

“It’s been a hard road. It really has been, but never give up and it’ll happen.” she said.

Rusty’s Family Restaurant & Sports Grille is located at 2075 W Grant Rd, Tucson, AZ 85745