Deb Richards 
Member since Mar 22, 2016


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Re: “The Birth of Tucson Cuisine

Yes, I am writing 10 years after the fact. And I only recently happened upon this article when trying to remember Boccata's name. My husband (John Richards) had designed the restaurant that inhabited the space previous in that location (as well as completed design work in many back and front of the houses in many of the restaurants named in this article). Well, I was excited to read an article named "The Birth of Tucson Restaurants" as I have worked, managed and owned in the biz there since the late 1970s.

I am glad to introduce myself here: I am Deborah (Gellman) Richards. My first food service job in Tucson was scooping ice cream at Eric's Ice Cream (1977-79). From there I moved to The Blue Willow (1979-80), working with both Tess O'Shea and Marianne Banes (who dated my cousin Bruce Bracker, former sous chef for Claude at Le Rendezvous and Janos as well).

Next up I managed and became a minority owner at The Eclectic Cafe (1980-1982) before rebuilding the neighborhood market at Frank's Restaurant (1982-present), which was and is still an iconic breakfast diner. I did this, partnering with Mark Smith (The Eclectic Cafe, Renee's Organic Oven). In 2002, we added Francisco's Michoacan style dinner service.

In 1986, Tess O'Shea (Barrio, FioRito's) and I started Presidio Grill, opening for business on 15 April 1987. Our first chef was Catherine Matthis (Blue Willow) and over the course of our 13 year tenure, we employed many foodie restaurant workers that worked at or created establishments named in this article. To this day I still receive requests for Presidio Grill recipes as well as accolades and the sharing of fond memories.

Presidio Grill was an amazing place, drawing from lots of talented people, becoming the first of its kind in Tucson, copied, envied and competed with by many later places. Sadly, in 2000 chronic illness forced to leave the business and later Tucson altogether.

As for The Tucson Originals, I was co-founder and at the first meeting at El Parador with Alan Zeman and Don Luria. We three had been called together with my husband's friend at the time, City Councilman Steve Leal.

Love Tucson. Love the food scene. Love the Weekly. AND Presidio Grill was a force in Tucson's restaurant history that I know some still remembered.

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Posted by Deb Richards on 03/22/2016 at 3:14 PM

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