Prepare to feel a flurry of mixed emotions, Tucson, because, while the restaurant scene is not necessarily growing or shrinking, things are changing over at the historic diner space at 902 E. Broadway Blvd. Chaffin's Diner has announced that they are selling their restaurant to the folks behind Phoenix-based Welcome Diner
Chaffin's, which is known in town for their massive menu and gigantic portions of satisfying greasy spoon diner fare, was built in 1964 and has been run by the owners, who are also the joint's current namesake, for 15 years. However, on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m., Chaffin's will be closing after the "difficult decision" to sell, stating that their "employees and customers have become more like a large family." The restaurant's current owners "appreciate being able to be a part of the community for so long," according to a statement sent to Tucson Weekly
Welcome Diner will take over after renovating the space, though future owners Sloane McFarland and Michael Babcock intend to keep the space's mid-century character largely intact. Like the pair's Phoenix restaurant, the new space will offer Southern-inspired diner fare with biscuits, fried chicken, burgers with peanut butter and bacon on top, fried green tomatoes, po'boys and more at the forefront.
The current kitchen crew behind Phoenix's Welcome Diner, led by Babcock, first worked off of a food truck in the Valley called Old Dixie's Southern Kitchen before taking over a 1940s-era roadside Valentine Diner in the city's Garfield neighborhood. Last year, Babcock and McFarland opened their second joint restaurant venture, Welcome Chicken + Donuts, to almost universal acclaim. The concept pairs unique donut offerings like chocolate rose pistachio, chipotle limon and pear thyme with crispy double fried chicken with an assortment of Asian-inspired glazes. If that doesn't seem like it goes together, just trust me when I say it does.
Although Chaffin's will be shuttering in two weeks' time, the Welcome Diner crew were not ready to release an estimated opening date for their concept.