TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - Three landmark Tucson restaurants were scheduled to be up for public auction in January, 2012.
All three restaurants have been a staple in the Tucson community for generations, and a favorite of many locals.
La Fuente on Oracle Road which had been around for 53 years, Casa Molina which opened in 1947, and El Parador that opened 37 years ago, had all defaulted on their loans, according to public records.
"These are landmarks for Tucson. They're historic places like El Charro. They're the places you want to take somebody that is visiting you from out of town," said Patrick Connors, president of Tucson Originals, which was a group of locally owned and operated restaurants.
Connors, who owned Pastiche said he was well aware of the struggles of being a restaurant owner. He sympathized with the owners of the three struggling restaurants, and said it could have been any one of them.
Connors said a tight economy, and stiff competition were a challenge all restaurant owners dealt with.
"Just look down any street and count the number of restaurants you see. Campbell is the new restaurant row, well Tanque Verde still has a lot, so does Sabino Canyon, and so does Craycroft," said Conners."
The three landmark Tucson restaurants had enjoyed the sweet taste of success for generations, but now were tasting the bitter after effects of a tough economy plagued with high food prices.
Connors said the price of corn had gone up drastically, which doubled the cost of making tortillas. Other produce was also a lot more expensive, but due to the stiff competition for customers, Connors said restaurant owners were reluctant to raise prices.
One patron walking into El Parador for dinner reminisced, and said along with great food, the restaurant also served up a side dish of memories.
"My dad, and my grandfather even came here," said the Tucson resident.
Mary Jane Portillo, a co-owner of La Fuente said this was a very difficult time for them. She had not even told her employees about their troubles yet.
"We're going to do everything we can to stay open. If people want to support us they should come out to restaurants that have been around for years."
Owners at Casa Molina on Speedway declined to go on camera, but said they too planned to fight for survival. Family members said they were re-organizing their finances and hoped to keep the doors open. We asked how the family got into the financial trouble and were told they inherited a lot of debt when their father passed away.
Loretta Jacob Carlson, a co-owner of El Parador echoed the sentiments, saying they would do everything they could to keep the doors open.
The courtyard style restaurant hosted Salsa dancing classes on Friday and Saturday nights.
Carlson said in their 37 years they had catered many meals, supported dozens of charities, and displayed art work created by local artists.
They asked the community for continued support, to help them stay afloat.
"Thank you Tucson for 37 lovely years, and here's looking for many more," said Carlson.
If the restaurants are unable to re-organize their finances and pull through, all three are set to be up for public auction in January.
7831 N. Business Park Drive