Restaurants 'not worried' as UA clears out for summer - Tucson News Now

Restaurants 'not worried' as UA clears out for summer

Some Tucson residents are eager to "return" to their favorite restaurants near campus. (Source: Tucson News Now). Some Tucson residents are eager to "return" to their favorite restaurants near campus. (Source: Tucson News Now).
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Tacos and barbecue food are coming with a side order of relief this weekend.

With University of Arizona graduation weekend coming to an end, the temporary Tucson population boom is thinning out. The lessened crowd means an attitude adjustment for restaurants close to campus.

"It's been a little slower,” said Ethan Nichols, working the register at Boca Tacos Y Tequila on East Speedway Boulevard.

The same feeling was felt next door for Jerry Martinez at Mama’s Hawaiian Bar-b-cue.

"You notice a decrease,” Martinez said. “Most people coming by are regulars."

These restaurants are heavily reliant on the campus crowd. They watched Sunday, May 14, as many UA students flocked back to their hometowns. The restaurants’ gates and doors will stay wide open and busy, even as the neighboring off-campus housing towers drop in occupancy over the summer.

"We're not super worried about how it's going to work moving forward. This place has been around 7 years and every year business gets better and better,” Nichols said. "Those times that we should be slow during breaks, sometimes those are even our busier times. We have more of the non-college kids and the local people that come out of the woodwork and they know it's safe to come out now."

Jeanne Demer, a customer eating in the restaurant Sunday, let out her audible excitement when asked about the smaller crowds.

“The traffic goes down. The commutes go down. It's nice,” she said. Demer was born and raised in Tucson and lives locally. "But we know that then the heat starts up and they're probably happy they're not here and we are."

Tucsonans like Demer will migrate back to their favorite, local spots. But what’s good news for the customer isn’t exactly a positive note for the seasonal school-year staff.

Mama's Hawaiian Bar-b-cue had to cut about 43 percent of its workers, according to Martinez. He said they are aware of the layoffs, having hired those individuals as seasonal staff.

"It depends on the summertime. If we are making enough money then get to keep them. But if not, it's kind of hard just to say, 'Bye.'"

Martinez said he will make the most of the next few quiet months as he rides the population wave.

"...Deep cleaning. Real deep cleaning,” he said. “Just got to keep that aloha spirit, man."

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