Creekside Continues Serving Its Famous Home-Cooked Meals

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"We are here, we are open and we want people to come on up," the owner of Creekside Restaurant and Bar Olive Matus said.

She and her husband, John, are in the process of selling the local business, but it is a process that could take a couple of years, she said.

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Olive and John Matus, owners of the Creekside Restaurant and Bar, want everyone to know that their Christopher Creek eatery is still open for business.

The potential new owners are buying the Christopher Creek eatery "because of its connection to the people and the history. They are not going to change the restaurant that houses so much of the local character," Matus said.

The property that Creekside sits on has been in the Matus family since the 1930s. And while this restaurant has been open since 1972, Matus began serving customers from another little building in the 1950s.

"Arizona Public Service built that trailer park," she said pointing east of the landmark, "and I worked out of a little restaurant right over there, serving their lunch."

Just touring the little eatery, and the mountains of memorabilia that decorate every inch of the walls, you will find yourself peering through a window into Matus' world. There are poster-size photos of her mother and grandfather, Matus herself with her mother and brother, and with her two children and a very happy grandchild, now attending Northern Arizona University.

There are paintings, letters and photos of friends. Ken Murphy penned a letter to the whole town of Christopher Creek while serving in Desert Storm and it hangs there still.

As a Christmas tradition, Matus hangs stockings. There are more than a hundred, each bearing the name of an employee, going all the way back to the very first employees.

She enjoys talking about her employees and customers, all who have become a part of her family. Helping this one, bragging on that one and shaking her head about those who got away before she could, "Get a hold of them."

She brags about a photo of a bomber and the pilot -- a son of regular customers- who Matus watched grow.

"Those are the exciting things about having been here these 30 years," she said. "There are so many stories, you can't cover them all."

She and John built the little restaurant from nothing, calling it a "Polish add-on," because they added on as they could.

Matus remembers when each room came to be. An old cabin, being torn down, became the first addition to Creekside, and shingles from the Payson Country Club were used to decorate.

Upon opening, she and John made an agreement: he would tend the books and the bar and she would handle the kitchen and the help. Only once did John cross that line, and his wife was quick to fix that, he said.

"I was fired from dishwashing years ago," John said with a laugh. "I stay out of there now."

"The restaurant may go through changes," Matus said, "but it will remain Creekside with its home-cooking and cheerful atmosphere."

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