Old Town Cottonwood
The historic district of Old Town Cottonwood is a testament to the way things have been here: pioneers set down from a melting pot of backgrounds to build small town America. The ebb and flow of Historic Old Town Cottonwood’s contemporary success came in waves of culture and creativity throughout the past several decades.
In the mid 90’s a wave of businesses comprised of boutiques, art galleries and restaurants began to take hold. The Old Town Cafe (still in operation today), The Outsider (now the Old Town Red Rooster) and a few years later, Cooke’s Gourmet Restaurant delighted the intrepid travelers who visited here and became a draw for “Foodies” throughout the region.
The Main Street Gallery, The Latterman Cooperative, JavaDog Gallery and others brought fine art and culture and the creative diversity that artists bring to a community. Fashionable boutiques, home design and decor shops gave shoppers an outlet to find one of a kind items that were hand crafted.
This explosion of creativity also brought in The Manheim Gallery which opened its doors in 2006 and in turn ushered in the current offering of art experiences. Cartwheels, Hart of Arizona, Dragonfly, TLStudio, StudioZ, The Old Town Frame Shop and ARC Contemporary Fine Art @ The Manheim which all exhibit regional and national artists in a variety of mediums. The monthly Second Saturday Art Walk brings in visitations from the surrounding region as well as from Phoenix and Scottsdale art enthusiasts.
The myriad of fine dining experiences in Old Town found a greater foothold when Erik and Michelle Jurisin of the Haunted Hamburger Group opened Nic’s Italian Steak and Crab House in 2003. What followed was an explosion of wonderful choices in cuisine also championed by the Jurisin’s, The Tavern Grill which was an epic conversion of the burned out shell of the oldest running single screen theater in the country. (The Rialto Theatre opened in 1917, burned down and rebuilt and renamed the Old Town Palace Theatre, which also burned in 1998). The Jurisin’s added Napelatano style Pizzeria Bocce, and a revamped Crema Cafe and it’s charming courtyard setting.
The buzz about Old Town brought in a new wave of restaurateurs, Abbie Ashford presented her first gourmet farm-to-table cottage restaurant; Abbie’s Kitchen. Gluten-Free junkies will enjoy the scrumptious bakery fare of Paradise Cafe and it’s intimate setting, and most recently the NOLA inspired restaurant, Muse Bistro. Barbecue fans will love an Old Town favorite, Hog Wild and the newest addition to the genre, The Colt Grill.
Historic hamburgers are created at Bing’s Burger Station, a 50’s style fountain that was converted from the old gas station and garage in town. Down the street another converted gas station is now Rendezvous In Old Town or R.I.O.T., a long standing gathering place for music, drink and great food. The Thai Palace brings the exotic flavors and ambiance of its native land to town.
William Eaton, an award-winning luthier and current director of the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix opened the Old Town Center for the Arts with his wife Christy Eaton. In 2015, Mr. Eaton was conferred the Governor of Arizona Arts Award. This September OTCA will begin its 10th season here, with a catalogue of close to 500 events of global performances under his belt.
The combination of new activities and a variety of experiences offered in Old Town Cottonwood began to grow intrigue. Concurrently, the wine makers of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium, who in their own wright were making the Verde Valley a destination, started looking for the place that they would begin to open their tasting rooms. Arizona Stronghold
Vineyards, took the chance first, followed by Pillsbury Wine, Burning Tree Cellars, Fire Mountain Wines, Winery 101 and most recently Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room & Osteria (the wine and pasta heavenly child by rock idol Maynard Keenan).
“Boutique and Chic”. Some favorite boutiques are Christy Fisher Studio,, moved down from Jerome, and eclectic European fashionista Christie Radke’s, Pink Rain Boutique. Another
Jerome transplant, actually a second location, is Papillon II for glamorous antiques. if you are in that old school market, Larry’s ‘2 Acres of Antiques’ should not be missed. Other long time favorite merchants include Magenta Jewelry, Betty’s Attic and Jim & Ellen’s Rock Shop, carrying a wide variety of dinosaur bones, rocks, gems, metal sculptures, Indian rugs, Kachina’s and other artifacts.
Located in the center of town is The Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders who specialize in over twenty varieties of healthy olive oils, white and red balsamic vinegars and other culinary specialties. Moo’s Gourmet Shop is brought to you with product quality straight out of an East Coast culinary catalogue.
Visit Historic Old Town and stay for a few days! There are 3 prominent hotels and boutique hotels in Old Town proper. For the Historic overnighter, The Cottonwood Hotel is your choice along with the Iron Horse Inn. The Tavern Hotel a small modern boutique hotel has gone from 13 rooms to an amazing new structure which increases that capacity to over 40 rooms. In addition to these three landmarks there are a wonderful selection of b&b’ s which are available on the many quiet and quaint back streets of Historic Old Town, all within very short walking distances to your favorite establishments.
Speaking of establishments... Out for a night of spirits and music? Kactus Kate’s Saloon “Old Towns Best Dive Bar”, Bootleggers Saloon, offering Bar Games,Happy Hour drinks and fast service The State Bar is an all-Arizona beer and wine bar, R.I.O.T. gastropub and a new favorite, 3 Kings Kasbar & Epiphany on Pima, which boasts a beautiful Morrocan decor, serves great drinks and tapas.
Other hidden gems , unexpected are the back alley entrance to Verde Valley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Unique as the occupant in the front of the building, Adventure Unlimited Books, whose owner Rainey’s son is David Childress of the TV show Ancient Aliens. And... Did you know Barbara Trombley Of Art Glitter institute has the world’s pattern on that powder fine fairy dust? Every time you see it, you know it was produced right here!
Events in Historic Old Town.
Yearly events that are worth noting are The 24th Annual Chocolate Walk in December (always sold out and a wonderfully festive Holiday event), the Quarterly Classic Car Cruise-Ins, the Second Saturday Art Walk, the Thunder Valley Rally, Farmers Market, Safe Streets Halloween, the annual Christmas Parade and the Old Town Arts Festival. This perfect blend of Old meets New in New Old Town Cottonwood offers something for everyone. A perfect symphony of timing meets destiny then planted a seed, which grew into the dreamy Old Town Cottonwood that people fall in love with today.
Story and photos provided by the Town of Cottonwood
For more information on the Town of Cottonwood, visit: www.oldtown.org