My thoughts? Yum. Pub grub made with thoughtful ingredients, artisan flatbreads topped with all sorts of things, and fun items like lollipop porkchops and chicken-and-waffles. There will also be all sorts of custom cocktails and six wines and 30 beers on tap.
Co-owner Grant Krueger just showed me around the space, which is basically a blank slate at this point. He and the other owner, Tucson local Jason Anderson, had the whole place gutted and are building it back up from scratch.
Where walls once blocked a view of the incredible courtyard of St. Philip’s Plaza, they’re installing metal bi-fold French doors that open to the outside. A 39-seat oval bar topped with pounded zinc — Krueger calls it the “heart of the restaurant” — will be installed. The floors will be made from reclaimed barn wood. The booths will be upholstered in tufted leather.
Krueger — who went to the UA and owned a restaurant called the Marina Cantina in San Carlos, Mexico, before returning to the Old Pueblo — seems to know his stuff. He’s gotten tips on the menu from various chefs, including Albert Hall. He’s got Joe Scordato on board to help with equipment issues. He’s in tight with various well-known restaurateurs around the state.
In fact, Krueger used to work in the rear portion of the building when it was Daniel’s. He did a stint at the now-defunct Breckenridge Brewery as well.
His vision for the eatery is described as “rustic elegance,” a place that sort of splits the difference between upscale and working-class.
“We’re doing chef-quality food in an approachable way,” said Krueger. “We’re going to make it a place where you can have a good steak and a cocktail, but still feel comfortable in flip-flops and cargo shorts.”
He says the dining public has become more and more educated over the years, and that expectations have grown significantly. So he knows he has to bring his “A” game when opening his first Tucson restaurant, and has been working nonstop for months to get the place up and running.
He mentioned some of the staff he’s assembled for his kitchen crew — it’s still a secret; no more details for now — and it’s quite a lineup. Krueger seems to know his stuff, and he’s been cherry-picking from some of the finer restaurants in town to bring as much restaurant expertise on board as possible.
He expects to have Union open in October.