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Early-day restaurants and more celebrities | Columnists


The biggest difference in our lives these days is we don’t get the chance to enjoy a good restaurant with family and friends.

Oh yes, I still miss going to the grocery store, but dining out is about our favorite pastime.

I wonder what that experience will be like when we get out of our quarantines.

I heard a report on the weekend news that food handling will certainly be affected. We will probably place our orders at the table with a mini-computer and the meal will be served by a masked person with gloves on their hands.

I’m very concerned about our favorite restaurants here in Fountain Hills. They were finally recovering from the last economic slowdown. Now, the effects of the pandemic will be another enemy that they will have to overcome.

Some that looked prosperous before the coronavirus took its toll on us will have to close their doors for good.

But, all of this talk about restaurants has made me hungry.

The subject of my columns now are about some aspect of our town history. So what better lead-in than this can I have than to have early-day restaurants as my topic this week.

I’m going to talk about the first four restaurants to open in the community. This was a major risk for these fledgling restaurants. Most of these entrepreneurs had no restaurant experience going into these ventures.

So, back in time we go to the mid-1970s when the town’s population was barely 1,500.

The Fountain Mountain In was the community’s first bar and grill. Note the spelling of “In.” The owners said it was an invitation for people to stop “in” at the bar, and have a burger. Partners in the business were Robert Farrell and Robert Drkula. The building on Enterprise Drive later became the Silver Stein. It is now the Amvets building.

Huck Finn’s was the first coffee shop. Built by Don Franklin, it was located on the corner of Saguaro Boulevard and Panorama Drive. Franklin operated it for several years and sold the concept to Carnation, which built several more Huck Finns in other locations in Arizona. Today the building is occupied by Hao’s Asian Restaurant.

Little John’s was opened by Tom Colosimo in Coplaz II on Saguaro Boulevard. Its menu was highlighted by pizza, ribs and sandwiches. The building is noteworthy in that Larry Ryerson conducted the first meeting of the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce there and The Rev. Glenn Atchinson held the first service of the Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church giving his sermon from a bar stool that was later donated to the River of Time Museum.

Fountain Hills’ first full-service restaurant was Stan’s Beef ‘N Burger. It was built by Bob Munson and Stan Davies. It was located on the northwest corner of Saguaro and Shea Boulevards. It later became better known as Appelwick’s. Owner Omer Applewick added a banquet room that was used by local clubs and organizations for meetings and banquets. He was planning to add a second floor revolving fine dining restaurant when he died of a heart attack. The building was gutted by a major fire on April 1, 1986. It was operating under the name of The Upfront restaurant at that time.

Well, I told you so. In my column two weeks ago about celebrities who have lived in Fountain Hills, I said it was inevitable that I would leave someone out.

I did. Arie Luyendyk, the 1990 Indy 500 winner still lives in Fountain Hills on a part-time basis.

John Woodruff was a resident of Fountain View Village for a period of time. He was a member of the 1936 Olympic team. He won a gold medal as a member of the 4 x 100 relay team. He won a silver medal in the 200-meter dash behind Jesse Owens and a bronze in the long jump. Woodruff was one of the athletes who embarrassed Adolph Hitler’s “superior” race German team.

Virgil HiIl, the world light heavy weight boxing champion, lived here in the late 1980s. He also won the silver medal in the Olympics in the same weight class. He had the nickname of “Quick Silver.”

And I was informed that Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood lived on Richwood, not Cerro Alto.

Thanks, readers, for the information.



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