Photo by Walter Andrew

For the past few years, the only occupant in the plaza at 277 McKeown Avenue has been Patagonia’s community radio station, KPUP. But Patagonia resident Bob Ollerton hopes to change that situation. Ollerton recently purchased the property and has begun renovating the structure, which was originally built by Dean and Kathy Lundy in the late 1980’s.

The age and condition of the complex have deterred some who contemplated purchasing it in the past. But Ollerton is planning to give the local landmark the attention it needs–beginning with roof repairs and a fresh coat of paint.

The structure’s electrical, plumbing and water systems also will be updated as needed. Alerton says he intends to keep a look that fits in with Patagonia’s character, and hopes to begin offering a few rentals within the next three months. The complex will contain three rental apartments and several small office spaces, as well as a restaurant.

Bob Ollerton and Bonnie MacClean

The plaza’s first tenant under this new management is Bonnie Maclean, who has leased the restaurant site and plans to open a bakery there. She says Ovens of Patagonia will feature assorted fresh-baked breads and rolls, along with other treats like homemade fudge, nuts and candies, in a country store setting. MacClean plans to make some of the treats, but she is currently looking for a baker to prepare most of the store’s bakery goods. She is also scouting around for some of the major kitchen equipment.

Although the business of running a bakery is new for Bonnie, her venture is grounded by years of experience in business management. A native of Phoenix, she earned a degree in accounting and has lived in Arizona most of her life. Her work has included ten years of business management for PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), and teaching social studies to middle school students in Vail.

The plaza’s restaurant will be the site of Ovens of Patagonia.

The building that will house the new bakery has gone through several identities over the years. From the 1930’s till the 1960’s, it served as a power generating plant. Then it was purchased by Lenny Gaskill and became Lenny’s Garage. In the late 1980’s Dean and Kathy Lundy bought the property and began constructing the complex of units that form the plaza. They converted the garage into a restaurant named The Best Place, but after a short time, they decided that running a restaurant was more than they wanted to do, and they offered Mike Slenk the opportunity to take over the business. Mike opened The Home Plate, and enjoyed a steady business there for several years.

The Lundys sold the plaza to Peggy Fong in 1988. She moved out of state and maintained it as an investment property. Then, about seven years ago, the restaurant was purchased by Dan McGuire. He renamed the place Patagonia Grill, and he and Slenk split the operation into day and evening shifts, with Slenk continuing to serve breakfast and lunch, and McGuire doing the dinners. But that arrangement was short-lived, and in 2006 Slenk moved the Home Plate (now the Wild Horse restaurant) over to the Stage Stop Hotel. McGuire’s business folded, and the restaurant sat idle until yet another enterprise was launched—Great Taste Restaurant. Within months it had folded, and despite speculative interest from several would-be investors and entrepreneurs, there has been no further business activity since 2009.

Ollerton is retired from the field of computer networking, and has lived in Patagonia since 1995. As with Maclean, this venture represents a new direction for him. He knows that in order to turn things around, cosmetic and structural issues, as well as electrical, plumbing and water problems will need to be addressed. KPUP’s studio will move to rooms in the rear and the front of the property will have a fresh look. Ollerton is excited about the potential, and has begun work in earnest. After nearly five years of stagnation, it is heartening to see this property come [back to life].