Arugula Bar e Ristorante celebrates a smashing first year

Arugula Bar e Ristorante, at 2785 Iris Avenue in Boulder, celebrates its first birthday tomorrow, and owner/head chef Alec Schuler is feeling lucky about his restaurant's first year.

"It has been great," he says, "an overwhelming positive response, considering the economy and being a first-year restaurant."

And some other problems, too. For example, there was the almost-too-weird-to-be-true story of a BMW smashing into his restaurant. "I learned that PR works," he says. "About five weeks after we opened, we had a car crash through the front window, break the five front windows and crush the front wall. And after that, people knew what we were and where we were. When it happened, I thought that it was bad, but it was huge. You can't pay for front-page coverage."

But even without the crash, Schuler says, the restaurant has been getting attention. He did his homework before opening Arugula, and planned everything, right down to the perfect building. "I actually waited for the location to open," he notes. "And because our model is working, we are busier than I imagined we would be. We have a lot of repeats."

So as the restaurant marks its first anniversary, Schuler plans to stick with what he knows. "It's working well right now, so I'm not going to do anything large," he says. "But when people ask me how often I change the menu, I say 'daily.' I have decided we will keep the standard menu pretty firm. It doesn't change drastically, but the special list is very extensive, and we are always trying out new things."

Simply put, Schuler says: "We're just gonna keep doing what we're doing; people are enjoying it, and I'm enjoying it."

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