Tucson Mexican restaurant shuttered by hearth on the rebound

On that day final October when {an electrical} scarcity sparked a fireplace that shuttered her household’s west-side Mexican restaurant, all Teresa Matias might take into consideration was her vacation tamales.

Because the early days of Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe, a restaurant she and her husband, Alfonso Matias, and their household have run since 1984, clients have relied on Matias for his or her vacation tamales, inserting orders for inexperienced corn, crimson chile and the home particular Oaxacan mole rooster as early as September.

“When the fireplace occurred I believed, ‘Oh, my God, the place are my clients going to get tamales?’” Matias stated. “It was horrible.”






A hearth that broke out within the attic area of Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe precipitated vital injury to the west-side restaurant.


Courtesy Tucson Hearth Division


Matias shouldn’t be taking orders once more this 12 months, however by early December, she is hoping to begin making these tamales when Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe, at 2456 N. Silver Mosaic Drive, reopens.

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“I hoped that this 12 months I used to be going to have the ability to be again and have all these fantastic dishes, however sadly we’ll have to attend a bit longer,” Matias stated in Spanish final week together with her sons, David and Isaac, translating.

Employees final week have been within the remaining section of the restaurant’s renovation — portray the eating room and laying new tile. Isaac Matias stated additionally they wished to seek the advice of an tools specialist to find out the situation of the kitchen home equipment that weren’t broken within the hearth.

All of the wiring, plumbing and electrical methods within the 3,400-square-foot restaurant even have been changed.

Isaac stated a lot of the injury from the Oct. 12, 2022, hearth was centered on the roof and within the 115-seat eating room. The late-night blaze was sparked by {an electrical} scarcity within the restaurant’s rooftop neon signal that unfold by means of the attic.

The household introduced quickly after the fireplace that they deliberate to rebuild and reopen the favored Mexican restaurant, which was within the nationwide highlight in 2010 when celeb chef Bobby Flay did certainly one of his “throwdown” reveals there. However the renovations have been stalled courtesy delays in county and metropolis permits and discovering contractors within the aftermath of the pandemic.

Work began in earnest this summer season on the cafe that Teresa and Alfonso inbuilt 1999 on a small hilltop overlooking McDonald’s on the nook of West Grant and North Silverbell roads. It was the restaurant’s third location after the couple took over a small vegan restaurant on the nook of Silverbell and West Speedway in 1984, 14 years after the couple immigrated to Arizona from their native Oaxaca, Mexico.






David Matias, left, Teresa Matias, Alfonso Matias and Isaac Matias, proper, stand within the entrance of Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe. The household is making ready to reopen the longtime west-side eatery.


Grace Trejo, Arizona Each day Star


Quickly after taking on the Mosaic Cafe, named after the close by Mosaic Wash, Teresa began slipping her Oaxacan staples into the menu. Earlier than lengthy, nearly all of the menu was her’s. Hire on the area was $300 a month, she recalled, in order that they bought burritos for $3 and had a loyal and rising clientele from the west facet.

Two years into the enterprise, they needed to relocate to the brand new ABCO procuring plaza on Grant and Silverbell. Month-to-month hire for the small area that’s now residence to a Subway sandwich store jumped to $1,500.

“We needed to increase our costs to $5 for a burrito,” Teresa stated by means of her son David. She stated she thought for certain her clients would balk on the larger costs, however “our clients who adopted us have been OK with the upper costs,” she stated.

The couple modified the restaurant’s identify to Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe and supplied a menu of principally Sonoran Mexican fare that Teresa had realized through the years.

“She understood we have been so near the border so there’s a whole lot of Sonoran influences,” stated David, the restaurant’s longtime classically-trained govt chef.

For 13 years, the restaurant thrived. David joked that they need to change the plaza’s identify to Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe Plaza as a result of the restaurant was the most important driver to the procuring heart.

When a buddy advised Teresa that land on a hilltop throughout Silverbell was up on the market, she purchased it and constructed the turquoise restaurant which you can see peeking out above McDonald’s as you drive alongside Silverbell.

“I knew in my coronary heart it was a good suggestion,” she stated of the new, larger location that always had strains of consumers ready for a desk. “I’m very completely satisfied as a result of I felt that I’ve been very supported by the neighborhood of Tucson.”

“We’ve all the time been proud that we’re a neighborhood restaurant. We’ve all the time been on the west facet since we began and being on the west facet makes us who we’re,” she added.

The household remains to be spitballing concepts on how they need to reopen later this 12 months, whether or not they need to throw a celebration with dwell mariachi or quietly open with little fanfare.






All of the wiring, plumbing and electrical methods within the 3,400-square-foot restaurant has been changed.


Grace Trejo, Arizona Each day Star


“I believe we have to see after we’re going to open and in addition see how tough it’s to open proper now in the course of season,” Isaac stated, then joked, “We’ve all gained a bit little bit of weight and we have to situation ourselves to get again.”

David admitted that after greater than a 12 months of not working within the restaurant, making ready a whole bunch of meals a day, it would take a while to regain his rhythm.

“We’re going to go in there and have the mindset of ‘let’s get this going,’ however in actuality it’s going to take a minute for us to be ready,” he stated. “So I believe taking it gradual will probably be the easiest way to go about it. We would like to have the ability to come again and ensure the shoppers know they’re coming again to the most effective of Mosaic.”

That is the primary time within the restaurant’s 40 years that Teresa has taken such an extended break. She and her husband went residence to Oaxaca and shared Sonoran specialties with household and buddies. She stated she additionally hung out together with her grandchildren, counting down the times when she might return to work.

“My mother has all the time been fearless and rises to the problem,” Isaac stated. “She by no means wavers. She is perhaps quiet proper now, however she’s raring to go. Inside, she is aware of she will probably be able to go.”

“I’m tremendous excited to get within the kitchen,” she stated. “Now that I’ve been gone for therefore lengthy, I’m tremendous excited to be there and welcome the entire clients again. I’m going to make my meals higher than ever.”

Get updates on the restaurant’s reopening at teresasmosaic.com.

Tucson within the Eighties was extra than simply large hair and vibrant colours. Listed below are some pictures from the ’80s plucked from the archives.

Pascal Albright



Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at cburch@tucson.com. On Twitter @Starburch

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