This post guest written by former Southern Arizona LFA Director, Lisette DeMars. Local restaurant owner and philanthropist, Pat Conners, died Sunday March 5th from lung cancer. The owner of Pastiche Modern Eatery and former board member for Tucson Originals left an indelible mark on the Tucson community.
Pat Connor's legacy is one of generosity and community. In traditional Tucson style Pat always held the door open and invited everyone in. He was instrumental in launching Local First Arizona (LFA) in Tucson. As the very first Tucson LFA employee almost 10 years ago, I was welcomed by Pat into the vibrant food culture of Tucson. He invited me to present at Tucson Originals meetings and signed the Tucson Originals up as one of Local First Arizona’s very first Sustaining Members in Tucson. Pastiche, along with the Running Shop, hosted LFA at Campbell Plaza for our first ever Buy Local Day back in 2009 where we threw a giant block party with catered snacks, live music, and free giftwrap. He invited me to share tables and speaking opportunities with him so that together we could connect the dots between what the Tucson Originals were doing in the world of local food and culture, and how other kinds of local businesses might do the same thing.
Pat was an excellent teacher- he and the Tucson Originals traveled throughout the country to teach restaurant groups all over the best practices of ‘leveraging your Local’ and the science and methods behind collaboration being a better tool for building success than competition. I remember one of the first times I sat down with Pat he looked at me and said- “No one, not even my greatest fans, are going to eat at my place seven days of the week. So I tell them all about my friends’ restaurants- I want them to enjoy the food at Kingfisher when they’re not here and I know Jim feels the same way about my place. We all benefit from cooperation, I’d rather them be eating at my friends' restaurants- the food and company will be better!”
Pat created abundance by sharing resources and by trusting others, a beautiful gift to have given this community. Also, I am forever grateful for the $14 out-of-this-world mac and cheese!
Pat- you will be greatly missed and forever adored, thank you for the joy and generosity you shared with all of us. Because of you our local culture is as healthy, connected and valued as ever!
Sincerely, your friend and partner in localism,
Southern Arizona Director Local First Arizona. 2008 - 2011.