If you frequent Fourth Avenue, I’m sure you’ve noticed some diligent activity taking place at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Seventh Street. That feverish hubbub is Don Rubino reworking previously occupied Olytata Art Studio and Gifts into Bawker Bawker Cider House. Bawker Bawker, Tucson’s first craft cider house, plans to open February 2020.
Rubino loves chickens and has a coop in his backyard. His wife, Jamie Perkunas, will playfully tease him about his morning conversations with the chickens in “Bawker Bawker,” their native language.
“I think chickens are funny and the name makes me smile,” said Rubino. I could sense Rubino feeling at home with his eponymic chicken logo and business name transcribed from his own etymological developments. There you have it — Bawker Bawker, like our egg-laying, avian farm friends.
Rubino is an entrepreneur and lives by the saying: If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. He has worked in construction and remodeling since 1993 and opened his own remodeling business, Walls and Floors for You, LLC, in 2001. His hands will be the ones to reshape the space, brew the ciders, and welcome you in.
Rubino began home brewing stouts and porters in 2009 and wanted to start making a lighter alternative. So, in 2014, he started making cider. He feels as though Bawker Bawker will add to the craft culinary milieu in Tucson and complement the brewing scene with its local, gluten-free option.
Rubino has gutted the space and is installing electric, heating/air, water-closet style bathrooms (similar to Tough Luck Club), and sewage on his own. The interior will feature repurposed lumber and steel from past jobs and things he has collected from around the state.
The design has yet to be finalized, but Rubino is working with local architect Grant Getz and his design firm. The plan is to create an open, friendly, and social environment free of televisions for crowds 21 and up. Bawker Bawker plans to host Throwback Thursdays, open mic nights, live music, and dancing. A foosball table and darts will possibly accompany the aforementioned events.
The 3,200-square-foot interior will feature a 30-foot bar and plenty of perimeter seating to view the bustle on Fourth Avenue. There’ll be intimate and conversational seating and designated spaces to accommodate local musicians.
Behind the bar, you can expect to find 28 taps. Options include Rubino’s ciders, gluten-free and reduced beer, house-made sodas and probiotic Kombucha, rotating local beers, and nitro whole bean coffee that Rubino will roast himself. In addition, he’s working on recipes for nonalcoholic seltzers.
Needless to say, Che’s Lounge has a new neighbor moving in who’s ready to keep the party going.
Jake O’Rourke is a Tucson native, writer, editor, and musician. He enjoys tasting his way through Tucson’s copious food and craft beer options, listening to live music, and writing about the experiences he has within these endeavors.