HUB offers emotional experience with down-home cuisine
Kelsee Becker / Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Hub, off of Congress Street and Fifth Avenue, offers a plethora of comfort food, drinks, and ice cream. The environment gives Tucsonans an experience unmatched downtown.
Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery is all about bringing people together. Located on East Congress Street downtown, Hub is a restaurant, a bar and an ice cream parlor all wrapped up in one. Its atmosphere is comfy and cozy; old-fashioned yet modern with red and white couches and brick walls draped with ropes.
“There’s something for everyone,” said Kade Mislinski, owner of Hub as well as Playground and Lulu’s Shake Shoppe. Mislinski is a UA alumnus who studied political science, but said he’s always been a student of marketing and branding.
Mislinski described the food at Hub as “American classic, vintage-modern food.”
From salmon to veggie burgers to patty melts to ice cream, Hub covers all the bases. Mislinski said he’s seen families and people of all ages meet there to enjoy a meal.
“It’s more of a chill hangout than anything else,” said Isaac Cox, a journalism and creative writing senior, adding that Hub has “a great atmosphere” and “awesome service.”
Mislinski said that it’s about the experience and having fun.
He described the relationship between downtown establishments as symbiotic, saying his relationship with The Rialto Theatre is very important, as people often crowd into Hub or Playground after an evening concert. And Hub does not serve coffee, so Sparkroot Coffee Bar and Fare across the street doesn’t lose out on business.
“We have a mutual friendship,” said Becca Hammen, a server at Sparkroot. Sparkroot owner Ari Shapiro is good friends with Mislinski, Hammen added.
When it comes to the Tucson nightlife, most students choose to spend their evenings on Fourth Avenue, despite the fact that downtown is only about a 10 minute walk farther. Mislinski explained that he and his fellow restaurant owners are doing their best to make downtown approachable with reasonable pricing and good food.
He said he believes that the August opening of the Cadence, a student apartment community, will completely change the downtown dynamic as far as the student presence.
Hub attracts customers primarily by cultivating a lighthearted and enjoyable atmosphere. The concept of the restaurant centers on childhood memories and experiences. According to Mislinski, the building that Hub now occupies is over 100 years old, which got him thinking about the idea of incorporating ice cream into the bar/restaurant. Frozen yogurt was the original plan, he said, but he wanted something more traditional — something old-fashioned, like ice cream.
“It’s an emotional connection to your childhood,” Mislinski said.
Ice cream flavors offered at Hub include s’mores, salted caramel, blueberry malt and chocolate peanut butter cup, and of course there’s a wide selection of toppings as well.
Along with an assortment of food and ice cream options, Hub also offers dozens of draft beers, wines and cocktails.
Mislinski explained that going out to dinner as a child was always a memorable experience and that time spent with his grandmother eating seafood influenced the menu options he chose for Hub, like the lobster roll, crab cakes and shrimp cocktail.
As for his next business venture, Mislinski is planning to open a bar/diner style restaurant downtown that serves comfort foods like dumplings and matzo ball soup. The concept of the restaurant is going to be “Asian, Jewish, Polish,” Mislinski said, adding that there will be no servers. Customers will simply come sit at the bar and order their food. If it’s anything like Hub, it will definitely be worth a visit.