I've Seen It All

These locals have been working at beloved Boulder establishments for years. Here’s a glimpse into their experiences and favorite moments.

Article by Sara Bruskin

Photography by Alexandré Hooson

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

The soul of a city is made up of the people in it. In Boulder, we have a dynamic mix of talented individuals who have watched this city grow and evolve alongside them for decades. Those who work at our most iconic organizations see Boulder at its core on a daily basis. From monumental events to tiny, cherished moments, their recollections are meaningful pieces of Boulder history.


Cheryl Liguori

CEO of Z2 Entertainment; has run Boulder Theater and The Fox Theatre since 1992.

“In the music business, it is not unusual to ‘see it all.’ Dave Matthews Band shot their first music video at The Fox—‘Ants Marching.’ It was an insanely fun couple of days! There are plenty of stories for sure. One time we had a band not show up for sound check only to find them wasted in Telluride where they had played the previous night. They never made it to The Fox that night!”


Mike Horowitz

Owner of Freddie’s Hot Dog Stand on Pearl Street since 1997.

“My favorite thing is having people come back five, 10, and even 20 years later and they say, ‘Do you remember me? I got hot dogs from you with my mom and dad 20 years ago,’ and now they have kids of their own. It’s nice to know that one of their fond memories in life was getting food from me. I also get people who visit Boulder annually, and they always get a hot dog on every trip. It’s a special feeling to know that I am a reason they keep coming back to this beautiful town!!”


Bernadette Tillis

McGuckin Hardware employee since 1991, store manager since 2012.

“We have consistent moments with our customers who appreciate us being there for them for all sorts of occasions. From a wedding in the tool department to salvaging homes from a flood, and most recently helping to navigate a pandemic. My most inspiring moments come when we rise in tough times to help people get through it. The flood in 2013 and our current situation are shining examples of the McGuckin way. Be there, be kind, and help one another.”


“Big” Tom Smathers

Owner of Abo’s Pizza in North Boulder; with the company since 1984.

“In 1996, I was the first person licensed to open an Abo’s location outside of Boulder (Niwot). Since then, Abo’s has grown to many locations along the Front Range. Over the years I have owned many of these shops, and now I own and operate the North Boulder location which is the oldest active Abo’s and the flagship for the brand. Not bad for starting out washing dishes when I was 15 years old.”


Jaime Jacoby

Employee at Full Cycle since 2010.

“A few years ago, I was getting some rental bikes ready for a family, when their son asked me if I knew how to do wheelies. I said, ‘Of course I do!’ Then he asked, ‘Could you please teach me how?’ I learned to wheelie when I was about his age, so I was happy to oblige. His parents probably wanted to get out on a ride ASAP, but their son had other plans. So he and I spent half an hour practicing wheelies up and down 18th Street. It made his day and mine as well.”



Librarian at Boulder Public Library since 2001.

“I have read stories to library children and their caregivers Monday mornings since I started. I love it. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, in Utah I would read maybe three books in a storytime. Boulder kids will sit through 6-10 books in the same amount of time!’ I learn so much from children by just watching how they react to the stories and songs. I feel very lucky. A favorite ‘Only in Boulder’ kid moment with the guitar: I was asking a little child what song they wanted me to play and she asked, ‘Do you know any Bob Marley?’”


Kevin J. Daly

Founder and owner of Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries since 1993.

“We had Yonder Mountain String Band playing at Mountain Sun back years ago. Nick Forster’s band, Hot Rize, was playing at the Boulder Theater and after they finished, they came down to jam with Yonder. When we finally closed down at 2 a.m., they couldn’t stop playing, so both bands and the entire pub went to the top of the parking structure to jam for another hour. Only in Boulder!”

James Soole

Physical Education teacher at Coal Creek Elementary and Bear Creek Elementary for 36 years.

After 36 years of teaching elementary physical education, my decision to retire was bittersweet. I am super proud of all the wonderful students and families that I had the privilege to meet and work with. I also had the privilege of coaching multiple sports at Platt Middle School for 10 years and 11 years of football, track, and basketball at Monarch High School. I loved every minute of it and retiring was a difficult decision.

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