The first Colorado outpost of Florida-based Pizza Fusion officially opened to the public two weeks ago, offering healthy options that include pizzas, salads and desserts made from organic ingredients. Since then, the spot has been working out the kinks in anticipation of a grand opening celebration in June.
But when it started the application process for its liquor license, it hit a snag.
"There was some normal liquor license concern in the community," explains BJ Iacino, the director of education and advocacy for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, the organization behind the new restaurant. "Capitol Hill United Neighbors got involved, but we had meetings with them, and we're happy to say they're all in support."
Iacino says concerns were mostly related to the restaurant's hours, but fears were allayed when the neighbors learned the place wasn't planning on staying open late-night.
The meetings also gave the restaurant a chance to explain its mission to the neighborhood. "People also wanted to understand our program better, so we had some good discussions about how this works," she notes.
The eatery is owned and operated by the Coalition, which is using the space as part of its Renaissance Works program, aimed at helping rehabilitate homeless people by training them in an industry and then placing them in jobs.
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"This is our largest single-focused job placement," says Iacino, who goes on to explain that people accepted into the program go through an intense screening process. Once they're hired, they complete a six-to-nine-month rigorous training program at the eatery, learning both the front and back of the house, before they're placed in the Coalition's partner restaurants around town.
Iacino says the group now expects the liquor license hearing to go smoothly. If the pizzeria gets the green light, it will offer up organic beer and wine in addition to pizza -- and pour those beverages at a grand opening celebration in June.