He’s interested in a South Stone Avenue site, but no contracts have been signed to bring him back downtown.
Celebrated restaurateur Chris Bianco is in talks to come back to Tucson, possibly to a Peach Properties location on South Stone Avenue blocks away from his former Congress Street restaurant that he closed in mid-September.
But for now it’s just talks; Bianco and Peach Properties principal Patricia Schwabe said no lease has been signed. Schwabe and her husband, Ron, own and run Peach.
“I’m still looking for something. I’m still working and have been working with Patricia and Ron,” Bianco said Friday. “I think we are looking at it and we want to do it, but the lease is not signed.”
The Schwabes, who own Penca Restaurante at 50 E. Broadway, are in partnership with developer Marcel Dabdoub on several downtown redevelopment projects including 123 N. Stone Ave., where Bianco is penciled in on development plans filed with Rio Nuevo as a possible tenant.
The Stone Avenue property is one of several in the so-called Peach & Dabdoub project that includes the old Bring’s funeral home at 236 S. Scott Ave.; the Chicago Store at 2130 E. Congress St.; and the Arizona Hotel residential project on North Sixth Avenue.
“(Bianco) is excited to work in Tucson and he’s excited to work with us. And we are trying to find the right” formula, Patricia Schwabe said.
Schwabe said they have been talking with Bianco about the possibility of becoming an “interest partner” — part owner — in the project, which has retail and office space.
The project also could include 1,700 square feet of event space, according to plans filed with Rio Nuevo.
Bianco, who owns several restaurants in the Phoenix area, closed his namesake Pizzeria Bianco at 272 E. Congress St. on Sept. 17 after just over two years in business.
He has continued doing catering work, including a party later this month for the band Calexico, Bianco said.
Bianco, a James Beard Award-winning chef, said closing his Tucson restaurant was one of the hardest decisions he has had to make in his 30-plus-year restaurant career.
But challenges related to the development of AC Hotel by Marriott, 151 E. Broadway, behind the restaurant — including losing available off-street parking — were factors in his decision.
In May, Bianco opened his latest restaurant, Tratto. Phoenix Magazine names it the Valley of the Sun’s best new restaurant of 2016 in its November issue.