The distance between the B&B Café and Tricocci’s Family Restaurant is less than the length of a city block, but for Angela Hooper, the expanse spans decades.
Hooper’s family owned the B&B for decades when a lease dispute led to the end of an era at the Castle Rock landmark. The B&B closed its doors in November, after a month-long legal dispute ended when she left the restaurant name behind her.
Hooper went to work at “The B” one summer before heading to Washington, D.C., and the family joke is that it was the longest summer in history. She was 21 years old when she put on her first B&B apron and was a fixture at the restaurant for 30 years, taking over after her mother’s death.
The day she signed the business name over to her former landlord was “heartbreaking,” she said.
“I felt like I let down my mom,” Hooper said. “Even though this is a new start, the B&B had been my whole life.”
The new start came about two months after she closed the doors to the B&B, which has remained closed, and around the time her family’s concern grew to epic proportions. The woman who had spent all of her life in the daily bustle of a family restaurant resorted to filling her time at her sewing machine.
By the time she was done, she had set aside 20 baby quilts for donation to a local women’s shelter.
“My kids said ‘she’s losing it,’” Hooper said.
Instead of losing it, Hooper followed through with a new venture in the form of Tricocci’s Family Restaurant. Named after her 8-month-old grandson Richard Tricocci Loiacono, the restaurant is down the street from the B&B in a space formerly filled by the Tana Dolce Wine Bar.
Hooper is revamping the space to accommodate high-backed cherry booths, hand-troweled walls, historic photos of Castle Rock and an atmosphere fitting for family diners.
The breakfast menu will remain the same as that at the B&B and the lunch menu will include a few minor changes. Entirely new to the Hooper family, which makes up the backbone of the staff, is a dinner menu featuring American Italian fare, alcohol and a children’s menu.
Children rank high on Hooper’s list. Set aside on the restaurant’s second floor is a play area for the five children younger than 5 years old among her staff’s families, including her grandson.
“Litigation can really drag you down, emotionally and financially,” Hooper said. “Plus I had 17 employees and family members. This (grandchild) has really inspired me. I was so down and he just lifted me up.”
Hooper also found support in the form of customers looking forward to her new place. She hopes to have Tricocci’s open by the end of March and, about two weeks before her deadline, customer Bob Davis, 75, was among those who dropped in to pick up a paintbrush, just to pitch in.
“We’ve got to get the place open,” Davis said.