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Noshing Around

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Free Food on Thursday, Dec. 28

Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill celebrates the opening of its newest Tucson location at El Con Mall, 3421 E. Broadway Blvd. The first 100 people in the door will receive free fish tacos, along with gift cards for one free meal per week for an entire year; the doors open at 10:30 a.m.

Top Chefs

Mark Ehrler, executive chef at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, has replaced Philippe Trosch as executive chef of Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. Ehrler is the most decorated chef in the Loews family, a master chef of France and the only chef to receive the AAA Five Diamond Award in two different restaurants at the same hotel.

Michael Gilliland (aka Chef Misko)--of Rex Ranch Resort and Spa's Cantina Romantica in Amado--out-cooked some of Arizona's top chefs to take third place in the 14th Annual Best Chefs of the West Culinary Competition, sponsored by Sysco Food Services of Arizona Inc.

JW Marriott Starr Pass Executive Chef Ryan Littman received the Chef of the Year award from Marriott International for his distinctive culinary creations. He has additionally been recognized five times as a Gold Platter Award winner by Meetings and Conventions magazine.

Jailhouse Merlot

The Elvis Presley estate and the touring musical All Shook Up are partnering to offer award-winning wines from Sonoma County's Graceland Cellars. Buy these collectible bottles from now until Sunday, Jan. 7, at Plaza Liquor, 2642 N. Campbell Ave. (327-0452), or drink a glass at Tucson Music Hall performances from Jan. 2-7. Blue Suede chardonnay and King cab won gold and silver medals respectively at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition in 2006.

End-of-the-Year Restaurant Rant

Too many restaurants have opened and then closed a short time later. Many people say that owning a restaurant is their dream. Well, stop dreaming, and do your homework; the business is difficult. If the city or county tells you to plan for three months, plan for six. Advertise consistently; months of small ads have more impact than one or two big ads. Train your employees, and treat them well, so they will reward customers with good service. Don't skimp on quality or kindness. Interact with your clientele, and find out what they like and don't like. Follow the good examples set by Zivaz and Vero Amore, two of my new favorite restaurants.

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