The New Year arrives with new Food and Beverage Director Doug Evans at the Weatherford Hotel. Evans has been the head chef at notable restaurants such as Café’ Ole’ in Maui, the Azul Restaurant and Lounge at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson and the Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club. We are so thrilled to have him on our team as we continue the century-long tradition of serving up some of the most popular food in the region!
When the hotel opened on the first day of 1900, there was a Chinese restaurant in the basement. Hot meals were cooked on a wood-fired stove, which helped warm the guests. The late Flagstaff astronomer Henry Giclas told us his New Year’s Day tradition was eating oyster stew with his father there.
That restaurant operated for years, but oddly, change was coming with the invention of the telephone.
When the first transcontinental telephone service came to Flagstaff in 1909, John W. Weatherford created a building to house it, right next to the hotel on Leroux Street. It was a small brick building with a three-bay façade of red Coconino sandstone. The Telephone Exchange served its purpose until the 1930s. Then the front was stuccoed over in a modified art-deco style and the building became the La Brea Café.
In the 1940s, the space was leased to Peter Wong, who created an iconic Chinese-American food restaurant called the Weatherford Café. He and his family owned and operated the popular diner until the early ‘80s.
In 1982, the Weatherford Café was incorporated into Charly’s, which opened as a small pastry shop in the lobby of the hotel in 1978. The exterior façade of the Telephone Exchange was restored to its original sandstone exterior and we renamed the building the Exchange Pub to honor its original use as Flagstaff’s first Telephone Exchange building.
The casual ambience of the Exchange Pub, along with Charly’s dining room next door, is reminiscent of Flagstaff’s heyday at the turn of the century. For years, it served as a meeting place for local groups like the 9-O-Clock Coffee Club, made up of town leaders and business owners, who gathered weekly to discuss current events and share a few bad jokes.
As we strive to improve all areas of service at the Weatherford Hotel, we are excited about beginning the New Year with Chef Doug Evans.
“The mountains drew us here,” Evans said about the decision he and his wife, Melanie Platt, made to move to Flagstaff. “We like to be surrounded by beautiful places and we felt such a good vibe from this town. That good feeling is certainly proving to be true. There’s a real connection to the community here. Also, I am drawn to the Western frontier history of the Weatherford Hotel and what it means to the area.”
As we’ve been discussing the menu for the New Year, you can expect the same phenomenal Mexican/Southwestern cuisine, which is a Flagstaff tradition, along with some exciting new entrées.
“Flagstaff has become kind of a foodie town. There are a lot of new places opening, which makes us all want to work harder to create even better dining options,” said Evans. “We have great food and the opportunity for people to enjoy the coziness and quaintness of this beautiful remodeled building. I am excited to build on the amazing dining experience that is already in place at the Weatherford Hotel.”
Evans says his signature dish is Asian Braised Beef Short Ribs, which he served in Hawaii. “Everyone who’s ever had them has said, ‘This is the best food.’ I might bring those in at some point.”
We invite you to check out the remodeled lobby with its restored high ceilings and elegant new staircase as you enjoy your favorite menu selections and some delectable new ones! Happy New Year! FBN
By Henry Taylor
The Weatherford Hotel is the heart of Flagstaff, where the Northland comes home to celebrate. For more information, visit weatherfordhotel.com or call 928-779-1919.
Henry and Sam (Pamela Green) Taylor are the owners of the Weatherford Hotel.