El Berraco owner furiously blames food trucks for closure of restaurant
North First Avenue in Tucson, used to be a familiar stretch for restaurateur Benjamin Galaz. His two restaurants, BK’s and El Berraco, thrived for years, drawing in hungry patrons with their signature dishes and warm atmosphere. But, two years ago, things started to change.
Food trucks began trickling onto the avenue, a couple at a time. They’d set up shop in a vacant lot near the intersection of East Glenn Street, beckoning customers with their diverse culinary offerings and convenient street-side service. While initially a novelty, Galaz soon noticed an impact on his business.
Over the past few months, Galaz’s sales at both restaurants dropped by a significant 40%. The decision was agonizing, but on December 14th, El Berraco’s doors closed for the last time. A temporary closure, the Instagram post initially claimed, but Galaz confirmed the next day that it was permanent.
City regulations offer little solace to established restaurants like Galaz’s. As long as food trucks have the property owner’s permission and the necessary permits, they can park wherever they please. The vacant lot’s transformation into a mini food truck park further exacerbated the issue, drawing crowds away from Galaz’s brick-and-mortar establishments.
The irony isn’t lost on Galaz. He himself started his culinary journey back in 1994 with a humble hot dog cart on South 12th Avenue, eventually growing that venture into the successful BK’s on North First. Now, facing the rise of a new generation of mobile food vendors, he finds himself on the opposite side of the coin.
While BK’s remains open for now, Galaz acknowledges the need to adapt. He might have to trim his workforce to adjust to the changing landscape of North First Avenue. It’s a bittersweet reality for a restaurateur who has poured his heart and soul into the Tucson dining scene for decades.