The weekend is a prime time to think about where to catch an interesting meal. The Rio Nuevo development district is helping some restaurants branch out.

Businesses along the Sunshine Mile took a beating during the Broadway widening but now with Rio Nuevos help new restaurants are coming in and old favorites are getting an upgrade.

Zemams Too Ethiopian Restaurant on Speedway is still serving up that special cuisine, but Zemams on Broadway has been closed and quiet since the Broadway widening.

Zemams Too co-owner Lucas Gebremariam says, Tucson really embraced us and kind of gave us a chance. I don’t think in a lot of cities we would have had the opportunity that we would have stayed open a year.

But now Zemams has been open for close to thirty years and the Broadway Zemams is headed for a rebirth as a bigger, more diverse place to enjoy food, and life. Itll be called Z Street.

Part of that diversity will be the result of Zemams thanking Tucson. The expansion will offer a rotation of local chefs the chance to introduce the community to their food by serving it within the expanded restaurant.

We want to give people who have good food and maybe not necessarily the income or the money to open a brick and mortar location, the chance to showcase that food on, you know, and get a lot of people to look at it and we hope that they become wildly successful and outgrow us.

Benjamin Fink lives near the Broadway Zemam’s and has been a regular there. Hes looking forward to the reopening and the chance to sample food from other chefs too.

I think that sounds great. I think it’s really hard for some of these local chefs to really find a place to serve food. You know, it’s hard with all the chains and stuff around to really make your mark. so that’s pretty exciting for me.

Close to 500 thousand dollars in assistance from the Rio Nuevo Development District is helping Zemams through the expansion and through the effect of some delays.

Rio Nuevos mission to stimulate business downtown and along Broadway has some other restaurants getting a boost.

Rio Nuevo is investing $115,000 to help the owners of Urban Pita transform the old Fired Pie Restaurant on Congress downtown into a new restaurant serving Spanish Tapas.

Rio Nuevo is investing $190,000 to help the Obon Sushi and Ramen Bar build a Japanese-themed patio.

Lucas Gebremariam says his family is aiming to have Z Street ready to open in November or Decemberjust in time for their restaurant’s 30th anniversary.