TLC Meals on Wheels moves into former Las Delicias

Nonprofit that feeds elderly, homebound finds new home at abruptly closed Mexican eatery

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First, the good news: TLC Meals on Wheels has a new home.

TLC, a nonprofit that provides healthy meals, companionship and other services to seniors and homebound adults, finally landed a new headquarters, months after finding out they’d have to vacate the old Ames Elementary School in Centennial ahead of the building’s demolition.

The not-so-good news: Their new home is the former Las Delicias, Littleton’s beloved Mexican restaurant, which closed abruptly in early July.

Owner Roberto Torres did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the closure of the longtime favorite eatery at Broadway and Arapahoe Road, renowned for its chile rellenos and blue margaritas.

Though a sign in the window says “We’ve Moved,” the local chain with four other metro-area locations hasn’t opened any new branches.

Back to the good news: The restaurant space should make for a top-notch headquarters for years to come, said TLC Meals on Wheels executive director Diane McClymonds.

“There’s so much potential for us now that we’ll have our own space,” said McClymonds. “It’s a nice big kitchen, and we’ll be able to add new programs down the line.”

TLC has been using the old cafeteria at Ames Elementary near Colorado Boulevard and Dry Creek Road, which closed to students 10 years ago and is slated to be demolished to make way for a new elementary school as part of a massive Littleton Public Schools bond project.

Though district officials originally believed they could find space elsewhere in the district for TLC, plans didn’t shake out, and TLC found out in late 2018 that they would have to be out by Christmas 2019.

The search for a new home was tricky, McClymonds said, because numerous criteria had to be met: the new location needed to be in the heart of TLC’s service area, which is predominantly Arapahoe County. The organization didn’t want to build an expensive and complicated kitchen from scratch in a warehouse, and many closed restaurants were too small for TLC’s volume.

A donor who asked to remain anonymous bought the Las Delicias building for TLC, McClymonds said. The donor paid just over $1 million for the building, according to county records.

The location has another benefit: its high visibility at a busy intersection will bring TLC to the front of people’s minds, McClymonds said.

“I’m more excited to put our sign out front than anything,” McClymonds said.

TLC will start out by leasing the building from the anonymous buyer, McClymonds said, with plans to buy it outright for cash.

“As a nonprofit, we don’t want to have debt,” McClymonds said.

All told, TLC is hoping to raise $2 million to pay for the property and an extensive renovation project to retrofit the building for a fast-paced, high-volume operation of meal preparation.

TLC served 130,000 meals over the last fiscal year to more than 800 clients, McClymonds said, with the number only growing every year.

“People rely on us for nutritious food and a friendly face at the door,” McClymonds said.

A quiet fundraising campaign has already netted about 40% of their goal, McClymonds said, with the rest up to the general public.

“We want the fundraising behind us so we can focus on feeding people,” McClymonds said. “I think it’s our responsibility to give back and help those who helped build this community.”

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