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Sonoran Restaurant Week aims to attract customers, boost revenue for Tucson restaurants after year of challenges

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:42 AM MST|Updated: Sep. 13, 2021 at 6:04 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s Sonoran Restaurant Week in Tucson and more than 50 restaurants are a part of the third annual celebration following a year filled with trials due to COVID-19.

Laura Reese, the co-founder of Sonoran Restaurant Week, said last year the event was take-out only so they are eager to safely welcome back customers to patios and indoor dining this year.

“Tucson has quite a few great food festivals where you are able to go to one specific location and sample something from a restaurant on a plate and enjoy it that way, but we didn’t have any events that actually brought people to the restaurants themselves,” Reese said.

Reese explained the importance of dining in a restaurant.

“It’s the ambiance, the décor, the music, the service from the staff, the smells and the sights,” Reese said. “It’s also enjoying all of that while sitting down next to a friend or close family member.”

Each restaurant involved has provided a special menu that is between $25 to $35. Reese said the purpose of having the event after Labor Day is because of the slow season that historically happens between September and October.

“In 2019 after the event, 81% of the participating restaurants reported an increase in revenue,” Reese said.

CJ Hamm, chef and partner at Saguaro Corners Restaurant and Bar said they have been a part of the event all three years and they have noticed an increase in customers. He said they wouldn’t have survived last year without their loyal customer base, and they’re hoping to attract new customers to their small restaurant through Sonoran Restaurant Week.

“Any time you get new people in, as long as you treat them right and give them good food, it definitely helps bring in more people,” Hamm said. “Advertising is huge and they (Visit Tucson) do a lot of it and they do good with it so it helps all of us involved.”

Hamm said they will still be providing take-out to those who are hesitant to eat inside the restaurant. He said they have COVID-19 protocols in place to make their dine-in experience as safe as possible.

“People are still cautious and we make sure to be mindful of that and cautious ourselves,” Hamm said. “Business has definitely picked up but there’s not a full sense of normalcy anymore but it’s getting more normal.”

This event will be going on through Sunday, Sept. 19. The San Xavier Co-op Farm is the nonprofit partner this year. Sonoran Restaurant Week held an event for the farm to raise money on Sept. 10.

“We are raising money for the farm, but there is no percentage of sales that restaurants have to donate to the organization,” Reese said. “This event really is to financially support the restaurants.”

All of the menus and the participating restaurants are available on Sonoran Restaurant Week’s website.

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