A year ago, when Deb Tenino and Nick Kreutz, owners of the popular Contigo Latin Kitchen at La Paloma, were invited to look at a midtown property to consider for a second concept, Tucson’s culinary scene was as strong and vibrant as it has ever been.
The location on Alvernon near Broadway, formerly home to Old Pueblo Grill, had been vacant for some time, but the bones of the historic LaMar House were still there. “We felt it was time to breathe new life into the space. We wanted the restaurant to evolve in a contemporary way to celebrate the juxtaposition of its life as an older home and add a new layer to its history as a restaurant” said Deb.
Once a deal was struck, they went to work creating a plan to bring the property back to working order to prepare for its new incarnation as Locale, their vision of a Masseria (a historic Italian farmhouse) in the heart of Tucson. Work was moving along rapidly but COVID-19 entered the world. Although everything came to a standstill, work has resumed and it is with great excitement and pleasure that this award-winning team will open their new concept to Tucson at the end of this month.
Meet Locale, a 1930s farmhouse with a modern vibe. “We chose the name Locale not only because we wanted to use local ingredients, but Locale in Italian also means “place” and “resident.” More than anything, we want Locale to be the heart of its neighborhood; a place where people can meet, have coffee, pick up dinner after a busy day, enjoy a great meal with friends” said Kreutz.
Deb who lives in Midtown, feels the time is still right for Locale “I think Midtown has a great marriage of old and new. Even with the pandemic, there are innovative urban projects happening and Midtown boasts some of Tucson’s most interesting buildings. It’s a highly desirable place to live and work. We want Locale to fill a need for taking an unused urban space and turning it into a dynamic part of the community.”
Featuring breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant will offer a combination of grab and go, restaurant and patio dining. The menu is a delectable blend of Italian classics made with a wide range of local products. From the seven-layer lasagna to the pizza a taglio made with local Barrio grains, the Italian roots run deep and everything is 100% fresh and house-made. Even the Italian gelato is made with love from local milk and fruit from trees on the grounds of Locale, like the pomegranate sorbet.
The south side of the property houses a bakery and grab-and-go center, which will open late in December. It won’t take long for the neighborhood to discover the morning delights of a freshly brewed cappuccino with a just-out-of-the-oven morning bun. Hardier fare will include a Caramelized onion, bacon and cheese tart, egg sandwich on a soft bun with fiscalini cheddar, arugula and spicy aioli, Savory polenta with sauteed greens and soft-boiled egg and more. Both patio and indoor seating will be available.
A major consideration for both owners was guest comfort and safety. “We take the health of our staff and guests very seriously and will take measures to protect their well-being and welfare. We appreciate the trust and patronage from our guests and doing our part to keep everyone safe. We will use appropriate face coverings, hand washings, repeated cleaning of public areas in concert with national and City requirements. We have also updated all the duct work and improved the air conditioning to provide greater air flow throughout the interior spaces of the property, said Tenino.
Additional measures include 6-ft. social distancing for tables and bar seating, abundant outdoor dining, single use menus, silverware napkin roll-ups, table and high touch area sanitized after every use, all team members are masked, hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the restaurant.
Tenino and Kreutz gathered a perfect team to work together on the restoration of the old restaurant into a rustic, modern farmhouse. Using a design concept by Dawn Kirker Designs from California, local businesses filled in all the details: Hidden Hollow Construction executed the build-out. Other local talents completed all the final details including Midtown Artisans for shelving design and installation, Tabarka Tile for hand painted tile, Stoneware Wolf for pottery in the bakery, Tom’s and Adobe House Antiques for various vintage pieces throughout the restaurant. There is also an interesting mix of Italian and American design pieces, including lighting by Aldo Bernardi and Artemide; Schoolhouse Electric and Roll and Hill from Brooklyn literally started the day the “stay at home” order was lifted in New York City to work on the interior lights.
For those who have been around Tucson long enough to remember the peaceful beauty of the main patio, the partners took special care restoring it to its former glory. With help from Spadefoot Nurseries, Mesquite Valley Growers and Green Things, Turf Yards, and Furniture in the Raw, the work has paid off. Featuring comfortable seating, a bar and Bocce courts, they have made this space one of the most desirable in the city.