Bistro 44 (Photo by Ryan Brownell)

How Bistro 44 Got Its Name: A Tale of Friendship, Football & Great Food

September 18, 2023
By Edie Jarolim

Maybe you’ve spotted the stylish Bistro 44 sign while driving along Tanque Verde Road but never stopped to venture into the restaurant. It’s time you did. As its many repeat customers can attest, you’re bound to keep coming back after giving the place a try.

a table topped with plates of food on a plate
Bistro 44 (Photo by Ryan Brownell)

Whether you’re up for a hearty sandwich, a special occasion dinner, or a casual bar snack, Bistro 44 has got your number — and it’s a lucky one.  

In fact, the story behind the number in the restaurant’s name helps explain Bistro 44’s longstanding success.

It was late 2006, and Rick Siegler was ready to move on after working for several years at nearby City Grill. He was about to open his own place when he learned that the name he’d planned on using for it was unavailable.

In a brainstorming huddle, a close customer/friend from his former job joked that maybe it should be called 44 — Rick’s old high school football number. 

a bowl filled with different types of food on a plate
Assorted dishes at Bistro 44 (Photo by Ryan Brownell)

It was as good a suggestion as any and, when the restaurant opened in early 2007, the friends/customers presented the Florida-born Rick with a gift: a tailor-made jersey in the turquoise, white, and orange of his favorite team, the Miami Dolphins, and bearing the Bistro 44 logo. The jersey hangs to the right of the bar, a sign of the camaraderie and attention to detail – not to mention the fondness for football – that has been a hallmark of the restaurant from the start.

As for the “bistro” part of the name, not only does it suit a place with a striped awning over the patio and a warm, brick-walled interior, but it also encapsulates the restaurant’s welcoming spirit. Rick says, “We’re a locally owned and operated gathering place for good food, good friends. It’s kind of a Cheers atmosphere.” 

a plate of food on a table
Assorted dishes at Bistro 44 (Photo by Ryan Brownell)

John Siegler, Rick’s father, who has pitched in since Bistro 44’s early days, notes, “Our menu has been pretty consistent since we opened — steaks, scallops, salmon, rack of lamb, salads, sandwiches, a little bit of everything. People have asked us over the years, ‘What’s your best dish?’ And the truth of the matter is, we’ve got so many good dishes, it’s whatever you’re hungry for.” 

The menu’s consistency is a tribute to the fact that several key members of the kitchen staff have been with the restaurant since it opened, working with Rick to perfect recipes and introduce new ones as specials. In addition, Rick says, “One manager has been here for 17 years and several others in the front of the house for around nine or 10 years.” As well as ensuring culinary consistency, that kind of staff loyalty creates an atmosphere of congeniality and efficiency that’s a sign of good management. 

a bunch of food on a plate
Assorted dishes at Bistro 44 (Photo by Ryan Brownell)

Bistro 44 has dining spaces to match your mood and your company — or lack thereof. Enjoy a quiet dinner with friends at one of the booths in the low-lit dining room; sit out with the kids on the dog-friendly patio (water bowls provided); or grab a barstool and watch the game in the bar/lounge, where three TVs offer access to both NFL games and the Red Zone highlights.

The restaurant also offers a variety of discounts, including early bird specials, a kids’ menu, half-price burgers on Sunday, and steak dinner discounts on Monday and Tuesday. The happy hour deal is especially generous. The $3 off appetizers and $1 off drinks is offered every day from 3 to 7 in the bar area, 3 to 6 in the restaurant, and there are no restrictions on what is included. Rick says, “We’re not one of those places that put stipulations on which appetizers you can order, you know, singling out the crab cakes, or the pineapple shrimp, or the sliders.”

But it’s not just the specials that make Bistro 44 appeal to a wide range of wallets. The standard lunch and dinner menus also contain items to fit every budget. Rick says, “We’ve had people who come in for ten meals a week and some that come for a special occasion, a birthday or an anniversary.” Sometimes they’re even the same people. Rick laughs, “I’ve got three business guys that are regulars and if they’re wearing suits, I know they’re gonna have appetizers and an entree and maybe a couple of $100 bottles of wine. If they’re wearing shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops, it’ll be burgers or a sandwich and maybe a beer.”

a plate of food
Burger & Fries at Bistro 44 (Photo by Ryan Brownell)

So head on in to Bistro 44. If it seems like a lot of people in the restaurant already know each other, don’t worry. Every newcomer is treated like a potential regular — including those who prefer the Puppy Bowl to the Super Bowl.

Bistro 44 is located at 6761 E. Tanque Verde Rd. For more information, visit and follow Bistro 44 on Instagram. Bistro 44 is also a Tucson Foodie Restaurant Partner.

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Article By

Edie Jarolim has worn many hats, including a sombrero on a one-too-many-margaritas night. She earned a Ph.D. in American literature from New York University and was a guidebook editor at Fodor’s (Random House) and Frommer’s (Simon & Schuster) in New...

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