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Rio Nuevo pledges $500K loan to local restaurant after forced to relocate

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TUCSON - One of Tucson's oldest restaurants has found a new home. It had to relocate because of the Broadway Boulevard expansion project.

Lerua's Fine Mexican Food first opened its doors in Tucson in 1922. The Rio Nuevo Tax Increment Finance District board unanimously agreed to pledge a $500,000 loan to the restaurant.

The loan will help Lerua open up its new location on the Sunshine Mile on Broadway Boulevard.

The decision came together quickly.

Last Thursday, the restaurant was asked to join a Zoom conference call, where board members voted.

"They're excited, we're excited because we've been in Tucson 97 years," said Mike Hulquist, co-owner of Lerua's. "You know, 78 years at Broadway and Norris and 60 some years in my family."

The new location is on Broadway Boulevard, between Plumer Avenue and Tucson Boulevard. They will have a retail store for tamales, offer catering, and will have a dine-in area in the restaurant.

Fletcher McCusker is the Rio Nuevo board chairman.

McCusker said that this is an exciting step to help revitalize the Sunshine Mile on Broadway and Lerua's is excited about the opportunity.

"I love my customers, I love the social aspect," said Hulquist. "I think we'll give it a good run and I think we'll make Tucson proud again and I think they'll enjoy having us back and open again."

Lerua's said that they will focus on getting the kitchen ready first so that they can get back to doing what they do best.

"I'm sure we'll be received warmly. And we still think we make the best green corn tamales anywhere," said Hulquist. "I can't beat the little grandma's in town but I'll give them a run."

Lerua's hopes to have their kitchen open in the next six months so they can have tamales ready in time for Christmas.

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Mark Mingura

Mark Mingura joined KVOA as a Multi Media Journalist in October 2019. Originally from the valley and with ties to Tucson, Mark is excited to get back to his home state and tell the stories of the Old Pueblo.

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