Little Anthony’s has long been a source of nostalgia for Tucsonans; a throwback to another time when Elvis Presley was king and actors like James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe dazzled on the silver screen.
Since opening in 1987, one of the ’50s diner’s signature treats has been its milkshakes, served in old-fashioned ice cream glasses in standard flavors, such as chocolate and vanilla, or covered in piles of marshmallows, pretzels, chocolate chunks and even cotton candy, as part of its “Big Bopper” milkshake menu.
More recently, the east-side eatery’s adult milkshakes — milkshakes with alcohol added — have been growing in popularity, said Little Anthony’s owner Tony Terry.
Donning silly names from theatrical productions held at the adjoining Gaslight Theater, which Terry also founded, Little Anthony’s adult milkshakes include the Henry Porter, a mix of cream soda, butterscotch and Crown Royal, and 009, which combines coffee ice cream and chocolate cake flavoring with Kahlua.
"It has been a good addition," Terry said. "We rolled it out, and it has been growing ever since, every week."
Terry had a liquor license that allowed him to serve beer and wine at the Gaslight and Little Anthony's for decades, but switched to a full liquor license about four years ago.
He started offering adult milkshakes at the request of people coming to dine at the restaurant and watching shows at the Gaslight.
"It was customer-driven," Terry said. "People were asking us, 'Can you put in a shot of this, a shot of that?'"
Not a drinker himself, Terry relied on his staff bartenders to come up with some tasty libations that also fit the theme of the restaurant.
Little Anthony's has up to six adult milkshake options available at any given time.
Terry said an expansion of adult milkshakes is possible in the future, "as long as it is something we can handle well."
"They are a little bit more labor intensive," he said. "When you get four to five ordered at the same time, things can get tricky."