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Tucson: Bistro Zin is closing

Claudette May 21, 2007 06:06 PM

My Saturday night reservation just got canceled. They're closing to remodel and also change the menu to "more casual": burgers and things. Sad. Is this a harbinger of things in Tucson? I'd like your opinions. TIA!

  1. b
    Booklegger451 May 21, 2007 06:59 PM

    What?!?! How the heck can they do that? It's one of the best... and busiest... restaurants in Tucson. Hoping this is a summer-only change to accomodate the drop-off in tourism during the "hot time".


    Ah, well... not the case. Apparently Sam Fox just hates us here in Tucson. Or something. This marks the end of one of my favorite restaurants. Fox knows his business, but I can't imagine what he was thinking.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Booklegger451
      Claudette May 21, 2007 07:03 PM

      The guy who called me sounded really sad. I think the change is permanent. Perhaps you can call them to confirm? I told him I liked it the way it was.

      1. re: Claudette
        Booklegger451 May 21, 2007 07:07 PM

        I did... it's upon their website now. Bistro Zin has passed.

        Fox must think low-end is where it's at... just opened a taco & tequila place, and now a beer and burger joint. Like Tucson needs more tacos and hamburgers.

    2. lawyerbriefs May 21, 2007 10:04 PM

      It's true, based on what I saw in the windows at noon today. My wife and I had dinner there on Friday. Great meal, but the place was empty. We went to a wine tasting on Saturday afternoon--surprise for me--and, not surprisingly, the place was empty. Great food and wine but, for reasons not clear (maybe parking?), the place was rarely busy when we were there. I don't think Sam Fox hates Tucson. I think, instead, that he wants concepts that cause people to show up and spend money. If they aren't, any reasonable business man should close the place.

      1. Bill Hunt May 21, 2007 10:20 PM

        It's all about the bottom line. We lost Cafe Terra Cota in PHX, because of the changes in the Borgata Shopping Center, and the change in the market here. Personally, I feel that our loss was greater, but then I always thought that Zinc Bistro (in PHX) was just OK. More noise and "scene," than substance. Cafe Terra Cota, OTOH, was a great place, while it existed. Besides, where else in PHX is one likely to find five Robert Biale, single vineyard Zinfandels on the wine list?


        10 Replies
        1. re: Bill Hunt
          Claudette May 22, 2007 08:27 AM

          Bill and Lawyerbriefs - Do you think it's the economy, or the PHX and TUC clientele in particular? Or the seasonality (restaurants can't survive the long "dry" summers)? One would think that with all the new construction around town that there'd be increased biz for high-end restaurants, not less.

          1. re: Claudette
            lawyerbriefs May 22, 2007 06:42 PM

            I really think this is a "one off" situation. Bistro Zin is in a center with terrible parking and, for reasons I don't understand, its "vibe" didn't click. It was very noisy and that's a turnoff for many older, affluent people. Many of them--my mom's generation--prefer Wildflower or Montana Avenue (and really, really don't like North.) Anyway, I don't think too much should be read into this situation.

            1. re: lawyerbriefs
              Bill Hunt May 22, 2007 08:42 PM

              I think that I might well be in your "mom's generation," as I cannot stand to dine in a noisy environment. I wish to converse, in quite tones, with my companions. Since I am there for the food, the ambiance and the total experience, I resent being unable to hear, because folk are screaming to the top of their lungs. This has always been a problem with an otherwise favorite restaurant (food wise), Cowboy Ciao. I love it, but it is too danged noisy. Though I am accustomed to being in the limelight, and photographed in many social settings, I do not wish to "be seen," when it comes to my dining. I do not call attention to myself, and wish that others would not do so either. It’s too bad that restauranteurs design for the noise factor. I feel that it most often hides a deficiency in the kitchen. Cowboy Ciao (Scottsdale), is a notable exception, in my experience.


            2. re: Claudette
              Bill Hunt May 22, 2007 08:35 PM

              I've not been to the Tucson iteration of Zinc, so I cannot comment on it. The Cafe Terra Cota (PHX) was in an older high-end center, but the demographic that was likely to frequent it was moving north. The in-fill was more like the West Valley, with Outback, Macaroni Grille, etc. as their idea of fine-dining. If one is located in a certain spot, and the demographics of that spot change, they are then at a loss. The restaurant business if fickle. What is "hot" one moment, is "cold," the next. With reference to CTC, I'd guess that their time in the sun was just over. Too bad, as they were a great operation, and missed.

              With the exception of the folk on this board, I contend that most diners are looking for something that is either familiar and easy, or has just been written up in one of the society rags. The latter do not care about food, but about the scene. If one can get the press, then they ARE the scene, regardless of how inedible the fare is. This is all too bad, as a restaurant should be food-driven and the clientele should support the ones, that are.


              1. re: Bill Hunt
                Molto E May 23, 2007 06:28 AM


                I think had you tried Zin Bistro that you would not compare it with Zinc Bistro, whether or not you enjoy Zinc. Did you ever try the original Cafe Terra Cotta at St. Phillip's Plaza, I enjoyed that one more than the Phoenix off-shoot. Though I ate at the Phoenix one many times, that buried location was a killer.

                Molto E

                1. re: Molto E
                  Bill Hunt May 23, 2007 04:40 PM

                  Oops, my mistake. I took Bistro Zin for Zinc Bistro - duh! Thanks for pointing out my error.

                  No, on the original CTC @ St Phillip's Plaza. I have heard many good reports on it, but every trip down has found us in the northern reaches of town, with no free time, so we've been to Tucson a dozen times, but have never really BEEN to Tucson. Some day we'll finish our meetings, and not have to rush back to PHX for some event, or another meeting. We will try CTC (original, as I really miss our version up here).

                  As for Zin[C] Bistro in Kierland Commons, PHX/Scottsdale, it is just OK, though a lot of 'hounds really, really love it. I just must be missing something - sorry for my confusion. It's now back to "Reading Comprehension 101" for me.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                    Molto E May 23, 2007 05:23 PM


                    Cafe T moved from the original location and I feel that for whatever reason that it lost a bit in the move. The new digs has a great look, but I just liked the food at the old spot better. When you have time try it out and see what you think. I do think that I have read an assesment similar to mine on the boards. As for Zin, it was a very good looking spot, but I think the new concept will be a big hit for Mr. Fox. Things may have changed but most of the residents near that spot are college students so that will connect with them. I am not sure if I remember him closing one of his restaurants before so I doubt he will miss his mark. As far as ZINC goes, I really have had some great meals there. For years I ordered my standard bistro favs, but lately I have veered from that with great results. I tend to think that dinner is better than lunch at Zinc. For the bistro experience that is my go-to spot in Phoenix.


                    Molto E

                    1. re: Molto E
                      lawyerbriefs May 25, 2007 04:46 PM

                      For out-of-towners, Vivace moved into the original Cafe Terra Cotta location.

                      1. re: Molto E
                        Claudette May 30, 2007 11:31 AM

                        I completely agree with you. None of my meals at the new location came close to the ones at the old location. The last time we ate there, about 4 yrs ago, the meal was so sad (sloppy cooking, less-than-stellar ingredients) that we quit going altogether.

                        1. re: Claudette
                          lawyerbriefs May 30, 2007 09:12 PM

                          We do well in the Terra Cotta bar in the summer. Durign happy hour a cheese and bacon burger, with home fries, is $5.00. Now that I've experienced Delux, the burger is not as great as I thought it was. However, for $10 you get a first-rate martini and a good burger. It's a pretty good deal.

            3. d
              Dave Peters May 25, 2007 03:33 PM

              Yes, this news was a surprise in the local Tucson paper this morning. But I guess one cannot question Fox Restaurants business decisions, they have been very successful.

              For my money, the best Fox Restaurant establishment is Wildflower Grill. Now if that were to get converted to a burger joint...

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