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Longtime manager works to reopen Arizona Mexican Restaurant in Tulsa after sudden closure

Arizona Mexican Restaurant
Posted at 4:05 PM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 19:10:13-04

TULSA, Okla. — The new owner of a popular Mexican restaurant in Tulsa is working around the clock to try and get the business up and running again.

Arizona Mexican Restaurant, located at 5800 South Lewis Avenue, suddenly shut down at the end of June.

In a Facebook post, original owner Heyka Zambrano posted:

Dear Guests,

it is with incredible sadness, that I have to announce, that Arizona is having to close it's doors. We just can't make it, with the increase in cost to produce the food, and with the hard struggle with the finances, Oklahoma Tax Commission has shut us down.

The debt that I am now facing from trying to keep the restaurant open is overwhelming, but I have to keep moving forward.

I had some of the best staff one could ask for, many have been with us for over 20 years, and it is breaking my heart, but I am eternally grateful for them and thank them for sticking with it 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 joy, this is THE worst part.

Boy, are we going to miss you all...

I also wanted to thank all you people out there for being our guests, because we definitely knew that you had a choice.

Thank you all...

I'm sorry.

Heyka Zambrano

Morris Prado started working at Arizona Mexican in 1994. He’s managed the business for nearly 30 years.

Prado was saddened to see the owner close up shop at the end of June, but almost immediately he decided it needed to stay open.

He talked with the employees and told them his plan to re-open the business. 14 employees chose to stay with the restaurant.

“It’s going to be hard but once we get it ready, I think we’ll be good,” Prado said.

Longtime customers like Dee Helm were devastated to learn about the closure.

“My grandkids came 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 that restaurant,” Helm said.

“He’s the reason for the customer service. He’s the reason for the great food.”

There’s a huge community push to re-open the popular restaurant. A GoFundMe account has raised more than $11,700.

“Made me proud that the people in this community are seeing the good in that restaurant,” said Helm.

Prado says that money will help pay the 14 employees before the business reopens.

“When I open, I know I’ll have everybody ready,” said Prado.

“I have my kitchen staff and the front and I can be really confident on running this place.”

Prado says the process to re-open has been challenging. They have to start from the beginning with permits, licensing, and inspections.

They’re also doing some remodeling while the doors are shut.

For customers, like Helm, they just want to be able to enjoy the food, drinks, and atmosphere once again.

“This is a place that needs to succeed for this community,” said Helm.

Prado says he’s hoping to have the doors back open in about three weeks. He says they’ll likely have to raise prices to stay in business.

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