Local food finds a new home at Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market
LFA intern Lauren Kaiser sits down with Paul Cisek of Johnny Gibson's Downtown Market for an interview about the new downtown Tucson market.
Tucson has embraced the first new downtown market to be seen in over 45 years. Owner Paul Cisek opened Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market on July 13, 2015 to the Downtown Tucson community, in order to create what he calls an “Euroban experience”; a cross between a European and urban setting. An eclectic and fun new home for Tucson's grocery needs, the market was named in honor of the vibrant soul, of John W. Gibson. A native Tucsonan and fixture of downtown, Gibson was a WWII combat medic who earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star and owned and operated the Johnny Gibson Barber Shop for over 50 years. In homage to Gibson, the market showcases his history through vintage photographs on display including his service time and his days as Mr. Arizona. Gibson was also a lifelong fitness enthusiast and award winning bodybuilder. He ran the Johnny Gibson gym equipment store where the market now stands. With plenty of healthy food on offer, the market is sure to find fans with today's fitness community as well. The fresh salad bar offers a cornucopia of healthy choices. For those in need of comfort food, the deli counter also offers up delicious sandwiches, grass fed burgers, tater tots and lots of other delicious fare to tide over a hungry diners. Their catering services are also ready and able to help out for a larger crowd. It's also an ideal happy hour spot. With 20 tap handles, there is wine on offer as well as beer from many local favorites like Iron Johns, Barrio, Sentinel and more. A robust wine and beer selection offers plenty of local choices on the go as well.
The store is an amazing one stop shop for many of Southern Arizona's best local producers, including R Bar, FTC Kombucha, Exo, Yellow Brick, and Arbuckle coffees, We Be Jammin Farms and many, many more. The market boasts one of the best collections in town of locally made products. Paul strives to source mostly local products on the shelves at Johnny Gibson’s to offer better food to Tucson and to help other businesses. Running a locally owned store creates a market opportunity for businesses that can't get a foot in the door with large chain markets. His business model is very much about helping to provide a "hand up" in providing a way for local food based businesses to sell their products to the community.
Open to the public until midnight, seven days a week, Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market is the ideal spot for everyday grocery shopping, Sunday brunch with the family on the marvelous patio, or even for a late night sandwich run. Don’t feel like leaving the house for that ice cold beer and delicious deli sandwich? Have no fear, the market recently launched an online delivery service to cater those specific cravings!
Paul has a desire to make a difference for the community of Tucson, as a way to support and enhance the quality of life. Through the diversity of clientele that walks through his business, he gets a sense that he is serving the whole community. Having a true passion for helping others, Paul likes to get a feel of where each customer is coming from and if they are having a good or bad day just by the expressions they are wearing on their faces. Not only does Paul enjoy conversing with his customers, but he also appreciates learning from each and every one of his staff members, many of whom are young and full of idealism.
When asked about why he chooses to support other local business owners of Tucson, Paul gave three words to express these relationships: empathy, self-preservation, and camaraderie. “We’re all in this together”, despite the competitive business that comes with owning a grocery store in Arizona. To Paul, owning a local business means developing real relationships with real people.
Next time you’re headed downtown, think about stopping into Tucson’s downtown market on S. 6th Ave. for a fresh deli sandwich, and as Paul would like to say, “a way to remember old Tucson in the midst of the new”.