Prime restaurant and bar real estate in Tucson might mean an exceptional opportunity to bring in business, but it also means incredibly high rental costs that are not always the easiest to get past. This is often one of the main reasons why businesses seem to come and go in Downtown Tucson as well as the connected 4th Avenue. And as of today, one particular popular bar in downtown Tucson with about as good of a location as possible is closing, making way for a new restaurant.
The Funky Monk opened a few years ago, taking over for the departed World of Beer bar and restaurant. The setup changed slightly, and the massive beer selection was slashed, but still, The Funky Monk very much retained its college bar vibes. Its location at 350 Congress Street made that a natural venue for offering drinks to thirsty patrons. But that is no more, and the new restaurant owner who is taking over the space has already taken parting shots at the closed establishment.
Antonio Nunez, who is coming in from Las Vegas, said in an interview that the new restaurant would, “no longer be a college bar, with peer pong and dollar beers.” Establishing itself as a restaurant not designed for college attendants looking to enjoy a beverage is an interesting tactic, especially with its location literally in the middle of the college drinking scene, but that seems to be the approach Mr. Nunez is taking.
Coming from Las Vegas, Nunez has run a number of restaurants in Sin City, including Le Cirque. He has partnered with Scott Cummings, the winner of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, although Scott does not appear to have any actual connection with the new Tucson restaurant.
The Tucson restaurant, which will go by the original name of 350 Congress, will be a sit-down restaurant that does offer live music at night. There is no word yet as to what kind of food will be offered, other than Nunez saying he will offer his “signature” dishes.
With the name recognition of his partner, Nunez was able to obtain $150,000 for renovations from the Rio Nuevo group, which is expected to cover about half of the renovation costs for the new space.
There is no current timetable for when 350 Congress is expected to open, although The Funky Monk has yet to formally announce its closure (signaling it likely is being forced out at the end of a lease). For anyone wishing to continue visiting “college bars with beer pong and dollar beers,” it is suggested to just go next door. Or across the street.
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