There have been a number of favorite restaurants that just haven’t made it through this past year and the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants, in general, run very thin margins, depending on a steady flow of customers to meet payroll needs. Due to the extensive forced shutdowns, many restaurants were not able to withstand the financial impact and, in the end, either closed their doors or never re-opened.
Another Tucson restaurant is joining the list. This time, it’s a well-established, long-time favorite restaurant in the city.
Casa Sanchez, which has been open and running for 24 years now, is closing shop for good. It is known throughout the city as one of the best spots for carne asada, although the unique burritos (listed on the menu as Sanchez-style burritos are also major draws).
The owners said they had been considering closing the shop for some time. They had extended their lease until the end of 2021, but then the pandemic slashed any profit margins and now, owner Rey Sanchez Jr., believes it’s better to cut losses and shut down the restaurant in the coming days, instead of trying to at least stretch out until the end of the restaurant’s lease in December.
When the restaurant closed and had to rely on carryout during the pandemic, Rey reported to Tucson.com that they had to let the entire staff go while he, his wife, and their seven children did what they could to keep the restaurant running.
However, even when restaurant restrictions started to ease up and patrons were allowed back, Casa Sanchez was unable to find workers. People simply weren’t interested in working (which has become an issue not only in the restaurant industry but just about every industry nationwide). With the lack of employed workers, the restaurant started to trim away hours, as children and other family members could only work so long, but even this proved to be not enough.
The added stress of the pandemic and running a quickly flatlining restaurant eventually led to serious health concerns for Rey Sanchez Jr., as heart conditions started to develop. To ease the stress and to help him regain his strength, doctors would not let him work the hours he had been (which, in addition to stress, limited the number of hours he could sleep and spend away from the restaurant).
The Sanchez family has been running restaurants in Tucson since 1983. His father, Reynaldo Sanchez Sr., opened the Sanchez Burrito Company at that time nearly 40 years ago. Then Rey Jr. Opened Casa Sanchez in 1997, offering more menu items while also expanding additional burrito joints. The Sanchez Burrito Company had expanded to eight restaurants throughout greater Tucson, but following the death of Reynaldo, all burrito locations closed up shop, which allowed the family to focus on the main Casa Sanchez.
Now, Casa Sanchez will follow the same path as the burrito locations, although the family’s hand was ultimately forced into this decision due to the pandemic and the subsequent lack of interested workers.
If you are interested in visiting the restaurant before it closes up, it will be open until June 19. The operating hours are noon until 5 PM on Tuesdays through Thursdays, then noon until 6 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant is closed on both Sundays and Mondays. If you haven’t been to the restaurant before, it is located at 8320 North Thornydale Road. The entire family would greatly appreciate you stopping by, and if you have been to the restaurant before, grab some food and thank the staff (the family) for all the hard work they’ve put into the Tucson food industry over the last 40 years.