Mabel Schneller, hostess, prepares her station before customers arrive at Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery, which has temporarily moved into the Playground Bar & Lounge space at 278 E. Congress St. on May 29. Hub and the neighboring Playground will have walls between them removed and share an entrance into an expanded bar.

Two popular downtown Tucson restaurants will soon become one destination but retain their unique feel.

Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery and the neighboring Playground Bar & Lounge will have walls between them removed and share an entrance into an expanded bar.

The Rio Nuevo board has voted to give the owners $373,411 to help with remodeling construction for the merger.

Owner Scott Stiteler said combining the spots to one kitchen, one liquor license and one chef was the brainchild of Regan Jasper, former partner of Fox Concepts, who has worked with Stiteler on the plan.

The Hub side is closed for renovations at 266 E. Congress St., through the summer but its menu is being served at the Playground.

Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery has temporarily moved into the Playground Bar & Lounge space for the summer.

“There are a lot of signs pointing to Hub summer at Playground,” Stiteler said. “It’s been really active and we haven’t missed a beat.”

He said outdoor seating will be expanded between the two restaurants and the ice cream service will return to the Hub when it reopens.

The entrance to the combined restaurants will “tell a story” Stiteler said, with photos, artwork and mementos that have been uncovered over the years.

Signage has been put up to direct Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery customers to its home for the summer.

“The history will adorn the walls when you come in,” he said.

The food will remain American comfort food and the most popular items on the menu will continue to be offered.

Stiteler, who also developed the neighboring AC Hotel Tucson Downtown by Marriott, said guests of the restaurants can valet park in the hotel garage and get their ticket validated.

The combined venues are expected to bring in about $8 million in revenue annually, a portion of which is returned to the Rio Nuevo District.

Scott Stiteler, far right, talks with fellow owners, Regan Jasper, middle, and Rudy Dabdoub on the patio of Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery. 

Board member Janie Cox enthusiastically supported the idea of combining the two restaurants.

“I don’t know how we can go wrong,” she told Stiteler during the board’s May meeting. “Everything you have ever come to us to support, you have delivered.”

The restaurant combo is expected to open in September.

The “bar cinema” is Hub Restaurant & Ice Creamery’s new patio where lunch and dinner are served. 

Joe Pagac works on a mural on the outside of the YMCA of Tucson building on August 28, 2023. Pagac says the 2,600 square-foot mural will be finished by this weekend. The mural highlights different aspects of what the YMCA offers such as basketball, swimming and horseback riding. The mural is funded by the Connie Hillman Family Foundation. Video by: Mamta Popat, Arizona Daily Star

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