Apr 042013

Author: Nicolle Fagan

Silver Grill Cafe in the 1930s. Picture provided by John Arnolfo.

Silver Grill Cafe in the 1930s. Picture provided by John Arnolfo.

The warm, gooey rolls emerge from the oven, spreading their cinnamon aroma throughout the café. Icing melts over the sweet bread, satisfying hungry customers and warming their hearts and stomachs.

The signature cinnamon rolls at Silver Grill Café have received national recognition, but their charm lies in the home-style recipe and their local history.

The Silver Grill Café has been baking the local treat for 28 years, but the restaurant’s history dates back even further. As the oldest restaurant in Northern Colorado, the Silver Grill Café dates back to 1933 with roots as far back as 1912.

From 1912 to 1918 the restaurant operated under the name of Uneeda-Lunch Café, but was closed when the owners pursued other opportunities. Years later, former owner Leonidas “Flossie” Widger reopened the business under the current name. Now, 80 years later, John Arnolfo runs the Grill and aims to keep the integrity of the restaurant’s past.

Arnolfo, a CSU alumnus, bought the Silver Grill Café in 1979. As a frequent diner-goer during his college years, he was pleasantly surprised to find the Grill for sale when he moved back to Fort Collins in 1978. In the 34 years that he has managed the Silver Grill Café, they have expanded from one building to five. The original diner grew from its 40 seat accommodations to a restaurant that can house 150 guests plus 30 on an outdoor patio. Arnolfo credits the restaurant’s success to its ability to adapt to changing times.

Flossie Widger, first owner of the Silver Grill Cafe in 1933. Picture provided by John Arnolfo.

Flossie Widger, first owner of the Silver Grill Cafe in 1933. Picture provided by John Arnolfo.

“It is the general public’s impression that a long history means success,” said Arnolfo. “That’s not necessarily true. You must be able to change with the times to succeed.”

And the Silver Grill Café has certainly changed in its lifetime. They still make all their food from scratch, but they feature a range of menu items from their home-style chicken-fried steak to gluten-free breakfast specialties.

“This is the Silver Grill’s 80th anniversary year, and we have a lot of fun anniversary plans,” said Public Relations Coordinator Tosha Jupiter. For instance, if you stop by the restaurant between April 13 and April 21, you will spot staff members wearing old-fashioned uniforms similar to the green dresses worn in the 1930s.

In addition to the fashion throwback, the Grill will hold specials throughout the month of October to honor the restaurant’s opening on Oct. 28, 1933. With an owner who is big on history (and big on Old Town), the Grill plans on keeping their historic roots in mind as they move forward.

“I see the history of the Silver Grill continuing,” said Arnolfo and the future is bright for the historic business.

So as a college student needing breakfast before finals or a faculty member wanting to get off campus for a home-style lunch, the Silver Grill Café offers good food at a reasonable price. Whether you are hoping to sink your teeth into the sugary delight of their famous giant cinnamon rolls or pick the classic duo of salty bacon and fluffy eggs, you can’t go wrong with the Silver Grill Café.

  One Response to “Silver Grill Cafe: Celebrating 80 Years of “Yum!””

  1. What a great story!!!!! The grill is an icon in FC!!!

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