From the Arizona Room is a weekly column examining the historic, reuse and infill structures in Downtown Phoenix. The inspiration for this column stems from the ever-expanding resources in Burton Barr Central Library’s Arizona Room (located on the fourth floor). For further information on this and other historic structures in the area, visit the Arizona Room during normal library hours.
801 N. 1st St. in Evans Churchill
Historic… not quite yet. Legendary… of course. We all know and love Matt’s Big Breakfast, Phoenix’s oft-written TV star of a griddle shack. But, not much is widely known about the tiny building’s history. Built as an extension to the equally quaint Coronado Hotel next door, the Matt’s building is only 55 years old, but it has seen quite a lot in that time.
It was used as storage; it has gone through many a façade change; it has seen some hard times on this Evans Churchill corner. Built in 1955, it is a Modern-style commercial structure. The flat roof and concrete foundation remain unaltered, but the original stucco veneer was blasted away prior to the opening of Matt’s to expose the original brick wall. Before that, there were so many paint jobs and colors it must have measured a half-inch thick.
In the 1980s, El Gallo, a Mexican restaurant resided in the space, promising nothing but “the real thing.” It was known for tender chicken, but does it compare to Matt’s Chop & Chick? I have my doubts.
Source: Arizona State Historic Property Inventory
Is there a historic property in Downtown Phoenix you’d like to see in From the Arizona Room? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the address and a brief description.