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Popular Tucson eateries think outside the box to survive impacts of COVID-19 pandemic

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TUCSON (KVOA) - it is tough being a local business owner in the middle of a pandemic.

With businesses across Southern Arizona taking major hits financially, some Tucson businesses are thinking outside the box to stay afloat.

Two business owners have felt that struggle, but they did not let the hurdles take down their business.

"Yeah, it has been a very interesting run," Nathan Ares, managing partner of Ares Collective Restaurants said.

Ares said he has had to think outside the box to keep his business afloat during the pandemic. One of his restaurants is the Tucson favorite, Prep & Pastry.

"As you can see behind me, out on the front dirt lot," he said. "We have paved and made it kind of our own."

Ares said they also have online cooking classes.

In fact, Chef Kyle Nottingham had Kelly Clarkson as a student.

"So we did it here actually at Prep & Pastry. We set up a little filming booth," he said. "I didn't really get to go, but we did it digitally."

Continuing with the "out of the box" mindset, Ares Collective Restaurants is expanding.

Soon they will be moving into Rincon Market at Sixth Street and Tucson Boulevard.  

"it will be a great fit for us. We are going to put our bakery in there, August Rhodes Bakery," he said. "We needed a little more room because we are supplying so many restaurants around town with our bread. We are going to be roasting our own coffee."

Pivoting into off premise sales and expanding our outdoor seating, was how the Ten55 Brewing Company was able to survive the on-going impacts of the pandemic, according to its owner, Chris Squires.

"So that means packaged beer. We recently started canning beer for sale to chains, grocery stores, liquor stores, a lot of our favorite beer shops," Squires said. "That is a big part of our business or the pivot we have done. The second part is this big beautiful patio we built out front. We all know outdoor seating is the safest place to sit right now."

When asked where the business would stand if he didn't have those new additions, Squire responded "game over, honestly."

Both businesses are still in the game and have advice for those struggling during the pandemic like they did.

"Do not just get scared and complacent," Squire said. "You have to pivot hard and look for the next opportunity."

"Mean the engagements. Do not just post something and say, "hey come on in." That is fake," Ares said. "Really mean the engagements."

As for the Rincon Market take over, Ares said they are taking their time and want to do things right.

He says it's an honor to soon be at this location but says they have some big shoes to fill.

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Allie Potter

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