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Monica Flin  (b. 1887, d. 1972)
Monica Flin El Charro Café
Synopsis: Monica Flin developed a successful restaurant which she operated from the 1920s to the 1970s. Raised by French parents, she married Mexican men and learned to cook Mexican food. Her life displays not only accomplishments in business but also mixing between ethnic groups and intercultural relations in southern Arizona.

Region: Tucson and Southern Arizona
Theme: Women at Work

Monica was the daughter of Jules and Carlota Brunet Flin, both early settlers of Tucson who hailed from France. She grew up speaking French, English and later Spanish. Jules Flin was a stonemason who built a home for his family on Court Avenue which is now the site of El Charro Café downtown. In a family that grew to eight children, Monica was the eldest. She married and lived in Mexico for a time, but after her second husband died in 1922, she returned to Tucson and opened a small, one-room restaurant named El Charro Café, after the cowboys of Mexico. Monica relied on credit from Chinese grocers and served meals for around 15 cent each. Her early menu read, "No service for less than 10 cents."

Monica Flin built a very successful restaurant that moved to different locations over the years. For a time, it was in the Temple of Music and Art, then on West Broadway in a building owned by Monica's sister. In 1968, Monica moved El Charro to the old family home on Court Street, where it remains today. By the 1970s, Monica Flin's health began to fail, and her niece, Zarina Dunn, took over the business. It is now run by her great niece and her husband, Carlotta and Ray Flores, and is said to be the "oldest restaurant in the territory under continuous family ownership."

Visit El Charro Café at 311 N. Court Avenue in the El Presidio District. Designated on the National Register of Historic Places, it is made of black volcanic basalt rock, which Jules Flin quarried from his claim at the foot of A-Mountain. This rock is characteristic of Flin's buildings. For more information about the family's other restaurants, see the website, http://www.elcharrocafe.com/

This site is on the AWHT Tucson Walking Tour which begins at the Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont House. Brochures/maps will be available in May at the Tucson Visitors' Center in La Placita at 100 S. Church Ave.

Photo Credits:
Monica Flin - Courtesy of El Charro Café, Tucson
El Charro Café - Courtesy of El Charro Café, Tucson

 

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