Monday, April 19, 2010

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street..

No, I don't think I'll apologize to Dr. Seuss. This was fun..

Saturday marked the long-awaited return of the Hot Tomato Cafe to the increasingly diverse commercial landscape that is downtown Fruita. According to friends who had been there most of the day, people were lined up at the door at 11:00, and kept streaming in until evening.

The interior of the new cafe',  with its custom-made wood tables and recycled- metal floor accents, was packed, along with the enclosed patio and convenient beer window, with overflow onto the surrounding sidewalks and alleys. The street had been closed for the event, and the live music from the stage in the middle of North Mulberry was excellent.

The cafe ran out of pizza dough at about 7:30 PM, so myself, Evan, and his friend Ben pigged out on some excellent stromboli. It didn't really matter what we ate; it was satisfying enough to see Jen and Anne's enterprise back in full swing after the events of last year.

As several media outlets reported in advance of the opening, the Hot Tomato is truly an example of community, government, and private enterprise in action to enhance quality of life. KJCT led off their Saturday newscast with the opening; instead of a slow news day, it was a good news day.

Props go to U.S. Bank, which according to press reports provided the financing necessary for the transformation of an empty former dry cleaning store into the reincarnation of the Hot Tomato. I would have been tempted to ask which banks were approached and said no; I'm hoping they didn't include those local banks that pride themselves on community reinvestment.

There are intangibles at work here; droning on about a sense of community may sound repetitive to some, but you can really feel it working in the finished product, and the slight change of venue seemed to have no effect on it. The cafe' has a rather active Facebook page for fans and others interested in the restaurant and its rebirth. It's worth checking out.

Fruita and the surrounding communities will benefit from this kind of collaboration and cooperation, so long as those in the community continue to recognize and encourage the nature of the efforts made in this instance.

The Hot Tomato's former home, just down the street on the corner, sits empty and available for rent. I'm also tempted to ask the Fruita Masonic Lodge how that's working for them, and whether or not the current condition of their rental space is justified by the means they undertook to empty it.

Would it have just been easier for the Masons to work with the Hot Tomato, instead of against them? Time will certainly clarify the answer to that question, but in the short term, it's time to celebrate a little.

Best wishes to the Hot Tomato, and to Fruita, for continued prosperity and community growth. From the looks of the picture below, the neighborhood weathered the additional activity with little or no notice or inconvenience.

Have a great week ahead.

No comments: