TULSA, Okla. –The new owner of a popular Mexican restaurant in Tulsa is working around the clock to try to get the business back up and running.
The Mexican restaurant Arizona, located at 5800 South Lewis Avenue, suddenly closed at the end of June.
In a Facebook post, original owner Heyka Zambrano posted:
It is with incredible sadness that I must announce that Arizona must close its doors. We just can’t make it, with the rising cost of producing food and the tough struggle with finances, the Oklahoma Tax Commission has shut us down.
The debt I now face trying to keep the restaurant open is overwhelming, but I have to keep moving forward.
I had some of the best employees you could ask for, many have been with us for over 20 years, and it breaks my heart, but I am forever grateful to them and thank them for sticking with them for so long .
We will absolutely miss our guests, so many of you are not just guests, but family. We saw you grow up, saw you in your troubles and your joy, it’s THE worst.
Boy, we will all miss you…
I also wanted to thank you for being our guests, because we knew you had a choice.
Thank you all…
I am sorry.
Morris Prado started working at Arizona Mexican in 1994. He ran the company for nearly 30 years.
Prado was saddened to see the owner close his store at the end of June, but almost immediately decided he had to stay open.
He spoke with the employees and told them of his intention to reopen the business. 14 employees chose to stay at the restaurant.
“It’s going to be tough but once we’re ready I think we’ll be good,” Prado said.
Longtime customers like Dee Helm were devastated to learn of the closure.
“My grandkids came in last week and they were just in tears,” Helm said.
“They were like we can’t go to Arizona?”
Helm says she’s been eating at the restaurant since 1995. For Helm, Morris Prado has become like family.
“Morris is the success of this restaurant,” Helm said.
“He is the reason for customer service. He is the reason for great food.
There is huge community pressure to reopen the popular restaurant. A GoFundMe account raised over $11,700.
“It made me proud that people in this community see the good in this restaurant,” Helm said.
Prado says the money will help pay the 14 employees before the business reopens.
“When I open, I know everyone will be ready,” Prado said.
“I have my kitchen and front staff and I can be really confident running this place.”
Prado says the reopening process has been difficult. They have to start at the beginning with permits, licenses and inspections.
They also do renovations while the doors are closed.
For customers, like Helm, they just want to be able to enjoy the food, drink and atmosphere again.
“It’s a place that needs to succeed for this community,” Helm said.
Prado says he hopes to reopen the doors in about three weeks. He says they will likely have to raise prices to stay in business.
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