Tucson Mexican restaurant shuttered by fireplace on the rebound

Tucson Mexican restaurant shuttered by fireplace 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.

For the reason that 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 hen as early as September.

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






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


Courtesy Tucson Hearth Division


Matias isn’t taking orders once more this 12 months, however by early December, she is hoping to start out 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 great dishes, however sadly we’ll have to attend a little bit longer,” Matias mentioned in Spanish final week along with her sons, David and Isaac, translating.

Staff final week had been within the last part of the restaurant’s renovation — portray the eating room and laying new tile. Isaac Matias mentioned in addition 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 fireplace.

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

Isaac mentioned a lot of the harm from the Oct. 12, 2022, fireplace 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 way 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 movie star chef Bobby Flay did one in every of his “throwdown” exhibits 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 time on the cafe that Teresa and Alfonso in-built 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 up the Mosaic Cafe, named after the close by Mosaic Wash, Teresa began slipping her Oaxacan staples into the menu. Earlier than lengthy, the vast majority of the menu was her’s. Hire on the area was $300 a month, she recalled, so that they offered 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 purchasing plaza on Grant and Silverbell. Month-to-month lease for the small area that’s now house to a Subway sandwich store jumped to $1,500.

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

The couple modified the restaurant’s title to Teresa’s Mosaic Cafe and provided a menu of principally Sonoran Mexican fare that Teresa had realized over time.

“She understood we had been so near the border so there’s a number of Sonoran influences,” mentioned David, the restaurant’s longtime classically-trained government chef.

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

When a buddy informed 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 mentioned of the new, greater location that always had strains of shoppers ready for a desk. “I’m very pleased as a result of I felt that I’ve been very supported by the group 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 stay mariachi or quietly open with little fanfare.






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


Grace Trejo, Arizona Each day Star


“I feel we have to see once we’re going to open and likewise see how tough it’s to open proper now in the course of season,” Isaac mentioned, then joked, “We’ve all gained a little 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 lots of 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 mentioned. “So I feel taking it sluggish will likely be one of the best ways to go about it. We would like to have the ability to come again and ensure the purchasers know they’re coming again to the very best 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 house to Oaxaca and shared Sonoran specialties with household and pals. She mentioned she additionally hung out along 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 mentioned. “She by no means wavers. She could be quiet proper now, however she’s raring to go. Inside, she is aware of she will likely be able to go.”

“I’m tremendous excited to get within the kitchen,” she mentioned. “Now that I’ve been gone for thus 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 Nineteen Eighties was extra than simply huge hair and vibrant colours. Listed here are some images 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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