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Historic Littleton Inc., a 30-year-old membership society of people interested in preservation and local history, welcomes new members at all times. Blue brochures are available at Bemis Library, Littleton Museum and Town Hall Arts Center.
Tommy Scarborough, manager of The Alley restaurant on Littleton's Main Street, talked with a large group of members of Historic Littleton Inc. on Oct. 30 about the history that took place within the restaurant's walls — starting with Samuel Thaddeus Culp, who built the Culp Block, running from the corner of Prince Street halfway west on the block along Main Street in 1891-1892. It was Littleton's first mall, Scarborough suggested. The Littleton Independent newspaper talked often about Culp's many skirmishes in Littleton. “He was the town's outspoken character,” it reported.
“The idea of a restaurant evolved — and is still evolving … We first just looked at a bar, with food trucks stopping by…,” Scarborough said. Then they used their own food truck at the back and served food inside and on the large rear alley patio. The concept is “Mountain Mexican,” Scarborough said. “We opened last December (a notably bad time to start a business) and have had growing pains … Still being discovered.”
The building, now locally owned by Bristlecone Construction, has been a furniture store; a printing and cobbler shop; offices and a lunchroom; and a bicycle shop that also carried tobacco, confectionery, sportsman's goods and soft drinks In 1915, the Lux Theater opened and showed three silent films a week and the first talkie in 1928. It was later remodeled and called the Vogue Theater. (Dinner guest Darlee Whiting, who grew up in Castle Rock, recalled dates as a teen at the Vogue, closest movie theater to her hometown.) Most recently, for more than 40 years, it was Jose's Restaurant, operated by longtime residents Jose and Phyllis Trujillo, until they retired.
In May 2017, new owners Zach Smith and Todd Donati of Bristlecone Construction were honored by Historic Littleton Inc. and Littleton's city-appointed Historic Preservation Board with the 2017 Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition for their contribution to historic preservation in Littleton.
Scarborough said when they bought the building, it first became a shell. Then (Bristlecone) offices were planned — “in many shapes and forms.” The idea of Mexican food eventually prevailed and the indoor dining area is reminiscent of an alley, he pointed out — brick, with doors along the way. They discovered mellow old original brick on the west wall, which became part of today's décor, filled with historic photographs and text. (Some text from the Independent is pretty funny.)
Zach and his wife, Jen, went on a mission, he said and consulted the Littleton Museum staff at length … The existence of a former theater inspired the marquee treatment of the front wall on Main Street. A mural on a back patio wall also speaks to local history, as do touches throughout the interior.
Scarborough and Smith are Heritage High School graduates and live in Littleton with their families — and he says about 90 percent of the employees are from Littleton. The pride of place shows in the décor and in a handsome small book they published about early Littleton businesses. (Available for $10.)
The converted food truck in the rear serves as a kitchen at present, although Scarborough says he's trying to convince Smith of the need for a real kitchen. He glances at exposed steel beams above the indoor seating — the building's qualities are still being discovered … In the meantime, Mountain Mexican food, margaritas and frequent live music await.
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