New owner talks about what’s next for the Funky Monk

Big changes are coming to a popular destination here in the Old Pueblo.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 10:44 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Big changes are coming to a popular destination in the Old Pueblo.

The space known for its loud music and college bar vibe now has a new owner. Plans are underway to close the Funky Fonk and make it into a new space for downtown Tucson.

“We’re not here to change the game,” Antonio Nuñez the owner of the new 350 Congress said. “We are not here to bring Vegas to Tucson and make it all crazy. No, we actually really want to embrace what is going on down there.”

Nuñez is known for his iconic restaurants in London and Las Vegas, Nevada tells 13 News his hope is to add to recent downtown developments by reshaping the way people see Congress and Fourth Avenue.

Scott Cummings, his business partner on the project, is no stranger to the kitchen as well. Cummings was featured on season 12 of Hell’s Kitchen where he won the season. He then went to work for Gordon Ramsay, becoming the Executive Chef at Ramsay’s Lake Las Vegas.

“We’re going to keep it local and use a lot of great local Tucson partners to make this area of Congress just a little bit different,” Jason Blackburn, an operating partner with 350 Congress said.

“I prefer to see my staff grow with me,” Nuñez said “We grow as well as our community grows, and the only way our community grows is if we give back to the farmers and give back to the small businesses.”

Nuñez wants to ensure the community, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

“We want to see if we can expand your second Saturdays and help get more of the community down there,” Nuñez said.

Thanks to $150,000 from Rio Nuevo, the space will be transformed. Nuñez and Blackburn said they believe the changes they make will only encourage people to visit the heart of Tucson.

“We got the Rialto expansion happening right next door,” Blackburn said. “We are going to be putting cabanas and a number of other things and really just bringing a great vibe to this end of the Congress.”

The owners tell us all this development will happen pretty fast. They hope to have the Funky Monk closed by May and have the new 350 Congress open by August.

“Really see what we can do to entice families and make it comfortable for couples and not feel like it’s just for college kids or it’s just for the uppity,” Nuñez said.