Before the doors have even opened, The Downtown Clifton Hotel is already gaining a reputation as a one of a kind downtown destination. It’s been described as “funky”, “unique” and “a cool cosmic dude ranch in the heart of the city”, but above all it is a truly local experience. This 10 room boutique hotel in the Five Points neighborhood, is all about giving folks an authentic experience. The hotel incorporates locally made art on the wall, locally sourced furnishings and was designed with an eye toward providing a curated experience of all the great things that Tucson has to offer. In talk with Local First Arizona, owner Moniqua Lane realized that the in-room mini bars could also showcase local products. “You can go to any hotel and get M&M’s and a Coke, but why not have an experience that gives you the flavor of Arizona?” asks Lane. “Creating a sense of Tucson as a place to visit, experience, remember and love is important to us. Food is an integral part of that.” Lane worked with Local First Arizona and Adam Lehrman of Tucson Foodie, to “taste test” a wide range of local products to find unique products for the hotel. “When you are looking for local foods, there are great resources available,” comments LFA Local Foods Director, Steve Russell. “When you look at the business directory at localfirstaz.com there are over 200 food producers listed and goodfoodfinder.com features over 4,500.” In addition, the taste testers also went directly to LFA members Food Conspiracy and Heirloom Farmers Market to ask about great local products they had seen. For beverages, the taste test included Diego Session IPA from Iron Johns Brewing, Borderlands Noche Dolce Moonlight Vanilla Porter, Dark Rum and Agave Rum from Desert Diamond Distilling and bottled Original and Chiltepin Iced Coffee from Exo Roast. Finding products that were produced in Arizona and individually packaged was key for this project. For food items, the taste testers sampled Grassfed Beef Crisps from DoubleCheck Ranch, Green Valley Pecans from the Green Valley Pecan Company, VeggieChips, Chamoy Mango slices, Chili Pistachios, Glazed Pecans and Corn Nuts from Incredible Snacks, Gourmet Olive Oil and Balsamic Pairings from Alfonso’s Olive Oil, Birds Nest Bakery Sonoran Blend Granola from Birds Nest Baking, Zesty Queso Kale Chips from My Rawsome Foods, Sweet Energy Trail Mix from AJ’s Fine Foods, Gourmet White Popcorn from Popcorn Country, Prickly Pear Candy from Cheri's Desert Harvest and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Bars, Olive Oil Caramels and Chocolives from Queen Creek Olive Mill. Food Conspiracy also contributed samples of locally made R Bars and Oh! Bars by OhGanics for our tasters to sample.
Tucson Foodie, Adam Lehrman, provided expert opinions at the tasting. Seeing the variety of local products available was eye opening even for a committed foodie like Lehrman. Comments Lehrman, "You learn quite quickly what’s available and what isn’t. There are limited choices for non-perishable items, but Erika did a great job in gathering items that most of us, myself included, had not heard of. It made me think that there’s a huge opportunity for companies that make quality, locally produced artisan food items." While not all items were seen as the perfect fit for the hotel, there were plenty to choose from. “It was great to be introduced to so many unique products that I can introduce to our guests,” says Lane. “There’s so much variety in our local products. There is something for everyone, nutritious snacks for the cycling community, salty snacks for mid-afternoon munchies and delicious sweets for after dinner treats.” Comments LFA's Russell, “what’s exciting about projects like these is how it shows how almost any business can incorporate local food products. These items make a great in-room minibar snacks, but also work perfectly for point of sale counter treats and corporate gift baskets.” The Downtown Clifton Hotel officially opens for business on April 1st. Guests can call now to make reservations at (520) 623-3163 to get their own “taste of Tucson”. Visit them online at thedowntownclifton.com or check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.