Opening September 2023, Jaimes Pizza Kitchen, 312 E. Congress St., is a relatively new business in Downtown Tucson, but the name is a familiar one.

Before Owner Gabriel Moreno was making pizzas, he grew up going to his grandfathers businesses: Jaimes Mexican Favorites and Jaimes Bar & Grill. Both were on 4th Avenue, the latter staying open between 1990 to 2002.

I love people, and I love catering to em and taking care of them, shares Gabriels grandfather Jaime Moreno.

He says went into the industry without formal training but with plenty of dedication.

Ive been self-employed all my life, 50 years of my life, he explained. You go by the seat of your pants, right? Thats the only thing that carried me A lot of guts and a lot of help from the good Lord. When [Gabriel] first came into Jaimes, he was two years old.

Twenty years ago, Gabriel then started his own journey. He says he became interested in making pizzas after the Brooklyn Pizza Company moved next door to his grandfathers bar in the 90s.

Even at a young age, you could see the camaraderie between my dad and the staff, Gabriel told KGUN 9. My uncle, my tias, and it just seemed so tight-knit and seemed so fun.

Pizza took Gabriel to shops and stops from Tucson to Tubac, including Grimaldis and Pizza Luna. Along the way, Gabriel says, he learned the science behind managing ingredients and managing people.

It sounds crazy, but it was a no-look-back scenario, described Gabriel. It was, I fell in love!

Two years ago, Gabriel started Jaimes Pizza Kitchen. Though at first, thats all it was: a kitchen for takeout and delivery, only in a shared space near North 1st Avenue and East Fort Lowell Road.

Took our knowledge and we found the equipment that we could afford, Gabriel recalled. And we opened up in a 214-square foot kitchen.

Gabriels family has helped make pizza pies with him.

When it got a little tight and got a little scary, ultimately I checked the box, said Gabriel. Im with my people. Im with my kids, Im with my wife. Were doing something were passionate about.

Last year, a partnership with property owners next to the Rialto Theatre led to the current version of Jaimes, a full restaurant on Congress Street. Moreno also operates and serves his full menu at the Good Oak Bar next door.

And were still doing it all together. My wife is still back there [in the kitchen]. My older son is still back there, said Gabriel.

Other family members, including friends and co-workers Jaime met during his journey, are also involved.

Family doesnt mean blood related, Gabriel added. Family means that we share a passion and a consideration for the people that were around and working worth and our food and what were presenting We work hard, we play hard, and we do it together.

The name remains a nod to Gabriels grandfather, and to the Tucsonans who remember the restaurants roots.