Colin Stewart designed the Expressionist style Mr. Steak Restaurant at 1709 W. Littleton Blvd., and the building has several unusual features. The noteworthy window walls form a folded plate illusion beneath the flat roof. The roofline itself is reinforced by projecting cantilevered sunshades, which are straight on top to align with the roof, but are inverted pyramids underneath to better integrate into the folded plate zigzags at the tops of the window walls. The theatrical forms of the Mr. Steak building are set apart from the surrounding parking lot by herbaceous borders around the base of the structure, although the original plants are gone.
The Colorado-based Mr. Steak Restaurant chain was founded by James A. Mather in 1962. The Littleton Mr. Steak was built just two years later. Modernism appealed to restaurateurs like Mather because the often eye-catching buildings would attract the attention of those driving by.
Before the 1960s, restaurant buildings were individually designed—even those for national chains. In the 1960s, however, restaurateurs were replacing buildings and adhering to a single design produced in multiple examples throughout the country. The Littleton Mr. Steak was actually an abandoned prototype for such a master design. The building was altered by Mr. Steak with vertical board-and-batten siding and distressed brick to align with their new corporate image, a pseudo–Wild West fantasy style.
Photographed by Rick Cronenberger
Source: “Commercial Modernism in the Greater West Littleton Boulevard Corridor, 1950–1980” by Michael Paglia and Diane Wray Tomasso.