Welcome Diner Owners to Open Restaurant in Tucson

Babcock inside the kitchen of his food truck Old Dixie's.
Babcock inside the kitchen of his food truck Old Dixie's.
Courtesy of Michael Babcock

Here's the good news: Chef Michael Babcock and owner Sloane McFarland plan to open a third restaurant.

Here's the bad news: It's in Tucson.

The duo — also behind popular Valley spots Welcome Diner and Welcome Chicken + Donuts — have purchased Chaffin's Diner, a historic midcentury diner located at 902 East Broadway Boulevard in Tucson. The Tucson restaurant will close in December 15, but Babcock isn't yet ready to announce a timeline for when he and McFarland plan to reopen the restaurant after completing renovations. 

As far as the menu, Babcock says the restaurant will lean more toward Welcome Diner than Welcome Chicken + Donuts. That means Tucson residents can look forward to the modern Southern fare Valley residents have come to love at the downtown Phoenix diner, and Babcock says he'll expand on the menu at the new restaurant. Look for "inventive small plates," the chef says, adding that he's looking forward to having access to a full kitchen (unlike the tight quarters inside the nine-seat eatery at 924 East Roosevelt Street in Phoenix). 

"I think we're really ready to pull the gloves off," Babcock says of his plans for the new restaurant menu. 

And Valley residents need not worry about losing the chef to our neighbors down south. Babcock says you'll still see him in the kitchen at Welcome Diner once the Tucson restaurant opens, and he even had some intriguing words to say about what he has planned for the Valley. 

"We're not leaving Phoenix," he says. "We're actually growing Phoenix. There's still lots to be done in our city." 

Chaffin's Diner is a "landmark restaurant" in Tucson, says Welcome Diner's Michael Babcock.
Chaffin's Diner is a "landmark restaurant" in Tucson, says Welcome Diner's Michael Babcock.

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