COVID Consequences Shut Down South Tucson Landmark

SOUTH TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) – COVID has blown a piece of our local culture. Rigo’s, a popular local restaurant in the city of South Tucson, has served its last meal.

For some people in South Tucson, shutting down Rigo is like losing part of their family.

South Tucson Mayor Roberto Teso says Rigo’s was a relatively young man by South Tucson standards at age 21, with many restaurants dating back forty years or more, but with a very strong following.

“It’s always been full, you know, a very exciting place. They always had live music in the restaurant and lots and lots of people you know would come in there.

Mayor Teso says Rigo has attracted celebrities and has become a meeting place for city and district politicians

“(Pima County Supervisor) Sharon Bronson, (Former Supervisor) Ramon Valadez, and several others gathered there quite often. They had special plates named after them. “

Now Rigo – Rigoberto Lopez is saying that his Rigo’s restaurant in Benson will be his only one – at least for a while. He says the South Tucson site is a victim of COVID. The self-serve buffet, which was a Rigo trademark, was difficult to access under COVID rules restricting self-service and take-away service. It wasn’t enough to cover his expenses.

He says he defaulted on his mortgage, the lender was locked out, and the South Tucson location has become a menu of memories – but proud memories – of quenching a community’s appetite and perhaps the soul .

He says, “Thank you to my customers and family for the real support.”

Mayor Teso says the loss of Rigo will leave a hole in South Tucson’s culture and economy, but he says his city still has a strong group of restaurants to keep customers going.

As for Rigo himself, he says he will continue to serve in Benson while he slows down a little and decides what to do next.

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