TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Just over a year ago, the U.S. declared a public health emergency. Since then, tens of thousands of businesses have shut their doors for good. Many of the small establishments that have managed to hang on are struggling every day to make it by.
No one knows this better than the Kings. On October 31, 2019, Kenny and Niki King opened the Sonoran Brunch Company on Kolb Road near 22 Street.
“It has always been a dream of mine, I’ve been cooking since I was a kid,” said Kenny. “I started as a line cook [at Fini’s Landing] and became the executive chef and then the general manager.”
“It was kind of fortuitous because we sold the home that we were living in and moved in with our grandmother to take care of her,” Niki said.
The two put their savings and souls into the restaurant.
“[Our menu is] from both sides of the border,” said Kenny. “We call it ‘Mexi-Zona’ fusion.”
They are a family that has persevered through a lot.
“We had four months until the official start of the pandemic,” Kenny said.
That greatly restricted them from receiving a small business loan from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
“The pandemic apparently, according to state guidelines, hit January 31,” said Niki. “So, it was very confusing to us because we had to show profit for 12 months before the pandemic when we were only open for roughly four months.”
At the best of times, if a restaurant like Sonoran Brunch Company makes $10, the owners take home less than $1 after supplies, labor and operational costs. However, with the pandemic reducing the number of customers and increasing the cleaning and packaging costs, that slim profit margin disappears.
“We don’t always take home paychecks,” said Niki. “It was kind of an impossible decision, but it was either let our staff members go or close our restaurant.”
“We had around 12 employees [to start] and we are down to Niki, myself and our senior most member, Joe,” Kenny said.
Nikki now works the phone, Uber Eats and the drive thru while Kenny cooks and Joe helps.
The couple has closed the dining room and cut their hours of operation. They not only run a restaurant, they also teach and parent their two young children who come to work with them. The Kings say they are tremendously grateful for their loyal customers who have kept their business alive this long.
“We are in a difficult position where we are behind on our utilities,” said Kenny. “Each day that passes, it becomes increasingly hard.”
The Kings are taking it one day at a time, saying if they can just make it through this pandemic, they can make it through anything.
“Our dream is to have a Sonoran Brunch Company on each corner of the city,” Kenny said.
“I would like to make [everyone] in Tucson know about us,” Niki said.
Keep Local Alive - Tucson has selected the Sonoran Company for its ‘Boost Crew’ this week, urging everyone to stop by and give it a try.
“Their breakfast burritos are amazing! The cheesy eggs with potatoes and whatever meat you want is just really, really good,” said Aaron Greenberg, a member of Keep Local Alive Tucson. “I made the conscious decision to truly move things to keep local alive.”
A family friend also set up a gofundme page to help the small business with utilities and rent.