For 64 years the Toia family has owned and operated several business in this location.
In the mid 1940's my grandparents Leo & Lucy Toia purchased a 2 bay gas station on (Stone Ave) a 2 lane dirt road that led downtown. Over the years there have been multiple road widenings and many additions to the gas station that eventually led to a complex of over 25,000 square feet. The gas station was closed and Leo Toia began selling auto parts. Leo's Auto and Home Supply was one of Tucson's first retail automotive stores. The automotive business thrived until the early 1990's when Leo's health deteriorated the larger chains moved in to town.
Leo Toia (1970- 1980's)
This photo shows the complex before the addition at the north end of the sidewalk which was originally built as a muffler shop. If you look closely to the far right you can see the rack they used outside before building the muffler shop. In 1973 the muffler shop was re-modeled and opened as the first Don's Hot Rod Shop. Don's outgrew the building in 3 years and built their new location at the south end of the complex where it still operates today. Throughout the 70's & 80's the muffler shop became Leo's Game Room, Leo's tackle shop and a mattress manufacturing business. For the past 20 years most of the complex has been vacant and used as storage. The Hot Rod Cafe now occupies the same space as the muffler shop and the original Don's Hot Rod Shop as seen in photo below.
That was then.................................................................................
This is now!
The Willy's graphic used on our sign was one of my dads race cars. It was painted in a red metal flake and always a crowd favorite. The photo above shows the Willy's during a race in Phoenix at Beeline Dragway.
Drag racing in the earlier years was held at Davis Monthan airbase. Don still has the 1940 ford sedan pictured here back in the 1960's.
Incognito Maverick - A crowd favorite during the 1970's.
The original Leo's Auto Supply space was updated in 2005 and Leo's grandaughter Deanie Burris opened and operates a banquet hall and wedding chapel. You can see it at http://www.CelebrationsPartySpot.com
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Thank you for visiting and please stop by to check out the new Hot Rod Cafe.