In March of 2020 I was honored to be asked to take part in the Tucson Restaurant Advisory Council. The purpose of the TRAC is to create a diverse body of operators in the restaurant industry, to work together to navigate the pandemic.
Over the last year, the TRAC’s members have been strong advocates for the restaurant industry. I have benefitted greatly by being able to help craft positions on upcoming legislation, meet with our community leaders to provide input on issues that impact both the city of Tucson as well as Pima County, and be a voice in conversations that look beyond the pandemic.
One of the programs created under the TRAC’s guidance is “keeptucsoncooking.com.” This campaign promotes restaurants like mine and is a great resource for the public to get up-to-date information about all of the safety protocols in place and what our local restaurant operators are doing to keep our community as protected as possible. The TRAC hopes to serve you soon!
- Josh Jacobsen, Lucky Wishbone/Arizona Sunland Foods
March 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of the government mandated closures of non-essential services. It is interesting, and a bit solemn, to think back to that time when restaurants, bars, gyms, museums and other attractions were ordered to close their doors, sending our economy into a downward spiral.
Since then, we have been hard at work with the help of Josh and many other restaurants under the leadership of Ray Flores from El Charro/Charro Vida/Barrio Charro/etc. to promote, support and advocate on behalf of all restaurants. Some examples of that assistance include:
- Access to SBA representatives, accountants and advisors to successfully apply for PPP, EIDL, Somos Uno Tucson Resiliency Fund and other financial loans and grants
- Reaching a compromise with Pima County on their Proclamation regulating restaurants, bars, gyms and other activities
- Creating and administering the Masks Mean Business campaign to promote safety and cleanliness within restaurants and other retail establishments
- Working with the City and County on their curfew policies and ensuring those policies do not negatively affect all businesses
- Collaborating with the Arizona Restaurant Association on legislation, like HB2773 that would allow to-go cocktails for restaurants and bars, to jointly promote policies that remove government barriers
As Josh mentioned, our Keep Tucson Cooking campaign is the next iteration of our efforts to, well, keep Tucson cooking. This new site includes interviews with restaurant owners and chefs, and the deals all of our restaurant members are promoting to help drive business to their establishments.
Our keeptucsoncooking.com site also houses all social media posts that include the hashtag #keeptucsoncooking. We encourage you to post photos and experiences from your favorite locations and include #keeptucsoncooking so others can be inspired to share in those dining excursions.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include another partner in all of this - the Tucson City of Gastronomy (TCOG). Since our community won that award, the first community in North America to receive such a UNESCO honor, our food scene and culture has been recognized internationally. TCOG shares our passion for supporting our hard-working restauranteurs and chefs and regularly meets with our group to tout Tucson’s unique culinary scene.
TRAC is only one component of the work we complete at the Tucson Metro Chamber to Champion our business community. We hope you continue to support all of our restaurants, small and local businesses as we make our way through this pandemic. Together we will rebuild our economy and together we will Keep Tucson Cooking.
Michael Guymon is vice president of the Tucson Metro Chamber