"There was a line out the door when we opened at 11 a.m.," says Alex Bunn, head of brand strategy and growth for the Cherry Cricket, which debuted its third location, at 819 West Littleton Boulevard in Littleton, on June 22. "People started cheering when they were walking in."
The project, which was in the works for a year and a half, marks a new era for the burger joint, which has been a staple in Cherry Creek for decades and is known for its long list of build-your-own burger toppings.
Mary Zimmerman opened the original Cherry Cricket in 1945, running the bar out of her house on the south side of East Second Avenue before moving the business across the street to its current home at 2641 East Second in 1951. The "Duffy's" part of the name was added in the early ’60s, when Bernard Duffy bought the place.
It was Eli McGuire, who purchased the Cherry Cricket in 1990, who turned the joint into a citywide destination for burgers. Then, in 2000, the Wynkoop group (now the Breckenridge-Wynkoop group) — which was founded by John Hickenlooper (who'd go on to become Denver mayor, Colorado governor and now a U.S. senator) — became its new owners. Hickenlooper soon left the group, but the Cherry Cricket went on to gain national recognition in 2009, when Aarón Sánchez raved about the green chile burger on the Food Channel — though his accolades came as no surprise to locals.
Co-owner Lee Driscoll had long wanted to expand the Cherry Cricket concept, which finally happened in 2018 when a location in the Ballpark neighborhood was added. Now it's expanding once again.
"It's a really different location for us," Bunn says of Littleton. While its first two outposts are more "urban," she says, "this is a neighborhood location."
The Littleton space was built in 1967 and has always held a restaurant; the most memorable was the Crestwood, which was in business for over four decades. "We're bringing a heritage restaurant back to life, which has been really fun," Bunn says.
The team is excited about being able to serve a new market south of the city. "From the very beginning when we decided to come to Littleton, we've gotten the warmest welcome from the community," Bunn says. "We were hoping it will be a really great fit for the brand, and based on the reception we've gotten already, it is."
The parking lot of the location has been converted into what the company calls a Burger Garden, which seats over 100 people and offers what Bunn describes as "a really special outdoor dining experience; a place to unwind and relax."
But overall, "we really tried to stay close to the feel of the OG in Cherry Creek," Bunn notes. "The signage, the exterior, the design itself. That's what we strove for."
Cherry Cricket Littleton will be open from 11 a.m. to midnight daily to start, though those hours may be adjusted. "We'll continue to stay open until midnight, or even later, if the demand is there," Bunn says.
"Our focus is making this location the best it can be. There are aspirations of an additional location or two down the road, but nothing specific yet," she adds. "We're just so excited. From the beginning, we've gotten such a warm response from the City of Littleton, the neighborhood, the guests. We've just been blown away by the response."