Silver Grill Cafe: a century-long Old Town tradition

Silver Grill Cafe has been the home to history, tradition and even marriages for over a century in Old Town. Serving breakfast, lunch and their infamous cinnamon rolls, the cafe is one of the oldest businesses in Fort Collins.

“We have what I call a good Colorado cafe flavor,” said John Arnolfo, owner of Silver Grill Cafe.

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Opening its first location at 212 Walnut Street, the grill was originally named Uneeda-Lunch Cafe. According to Arnolfo, the name was changed by a hungry painter.

“He said ‘how about I come up with a new name and exchange it for a pork chop lunch?’ That’s how the name ‘Silver Grill’ came to be,” Arnolfo said.

The cafe was opened by a man named Leonidas “Flossie” Widger. It continued to be run by the Widger family until Arnolfo bought it.

“When I bought it in 1979, it was just a single building that sat 40 people,” Arnolfo said “Now we encompass five buildings and we seat about 150 people.”

The employees also appreciate the history and talk about the people who make their own memories at the cafe.

“The thing I love best about being part of this historic restaurant is being able to share it with not only our neighbors, but all the tourists who have come into town,” said Cheryl Haselden, long-time employee. “People have met here, gotten married and come here for their anniversary.”

According to Arnolfo, one dish is an important part of the restaurant’s history: the cinnamon roll.

“Probably the biggest tradition we have is the Silver Grill Cinnamon Roll. So many of our customers have embraced (it) as part of their yearly traditions,” Arnolfo said.

People start lining up on Christmas Eve to get the special treat for the holiday, but it is also a favorite for frequent customers.

“My family goes to Silver Grill a lot for breakfast. I adore their cinnamon rolls. I get one every time,” said Marina Cifelli, a Silver Grill customer.

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The restaurant is working on ways to make the tradition of the cinnamon roll into a new experience.

“The best thing we have done with the cinnamon roll is make our Odells Satinelle.We actually put our cinnamon rolls into the mash to make a cinnamon roll beer,” Haselden said.

Arnolfo is committed to the history of Silver Grill and keeps several architectural elements intact to display the building’s background. He keeps a record of the history behind each of the five buildings Silver Grill resides in.

“I think that we are definitely a mainstay in Fort Collins. We represent a slice of Americana. Silver Grill helps people remember things the way they were. We have been mentioned as a tradition in Fort Collins,” Arnolfo said.

Through over a hundred years of history, Arnolfo sees the history of Silver Grill as being more than just the buildings in which the restaurant is located.

“This is a place where friends meet, where friends are met and relationships are maintained,” Arnolfo said.

Collegian ASCSU Beat Reporter Stephanie Mason can be reached at news@collegian.com.