by Phillip Manning ~ March 5th, 2014
After a three month closure, one of the popular eateries on Talkeetna’s Main Street will be opening its doors once again this Friday. Diners who are accustomed to Mountain High Pizza Pie’s colorful interior will be in for quite a change when restaurant reopens, as the interior look has undergone a major change.
Despite its origins in Italian and Mediterranean ingredients, pizza has become a distinctly American food. It has penetrated all corners of the country, including Talkeetna. For
the last three months, however, the village’s most popular place to grab a slice has been closed. What began as a relatively simple project turned in to something much larger, as owner Todd Basilone explains.
“We started out by just fixing some of the floor, and it turned into a lot more than that, obviously. Floor repair turned into a renovation….So, we decided that we were closed and always wanted to do this to the place, so we decided to follow through.”
The tie-dyed window coverings, pictures of Jerry Garcia, and Pittsburgh sports memorabilia have been replaced with a much more classical look. The walls have been decorated with a very convincing faux-brick look and stucco. Many other decor features have changed to suit the new look, as well. The countertop is granite, the wood accents have been darkened, and features such as light fixtures from the recently closed Blues Central bar in Anchorage give Mountain High the feel very reminiscent of a bistro. Todd says the decor reflects what he has in his own house.
“I like old things, and things aren’t that old, here. I wanted to give it an old feel–a little different. I’ve always done things a little different, and I wanted to make it feel like home.”
This is not the first time the building has undergone major renovation. The structure was built decades ago from lumber brought in by rail from Talkeetna’s former sister-community.
“A lot of the pieces and parts they used to assemble this building were from Curry. They came down in railroad cars and were auctioned off in Talkeetna–railroad cars full of materials. Most of the building that’s here were built from the materials in one of the cars that came down.”
Since then, the building has served a number of purposes. It’s been a store, a deli, and now a pizzeria. While many things have changed, especially after the building caught on fire just over a decade ago, Todd Basilone says he tries to keep some of the history alive.
“Dawn Jones used to have her horse tied up at the general store when it was her mother’s grocery store. She used to have it tied up in the front, and the horse would chew away at the window sill constantly. I left that, because Dawn told me that story. When I bought the place…she told me a lot of stories about it. That’s one of the ones I kept, so I’ve just painted over it over the years. You can still see where it’s all chewed away from the horse.”
While Todd and his team of all-local workers have given the interior a classic look, he says that he definitely plans on keeping the exterior of the building its current distinctive shade of purple. In fact, he jokes that the building might eventually get brighter. He plans to open the doors again this Friday.