Downtown Rio expands patio in time for spring

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This week's spring-like weather has us excited for the days of summer when we can linger on a patio and catch the beams of the sun with a drink in hand. Like a margarita. At the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant. In anticipation of summer, the downtown outpost of that local Mexican chain has begun expansion on the deck that flanks its Blake Street space, the goal of which is to unveil new outdoor digs that are reminiscent, according to manager Derek Stoldt, of an urban campground.

"We'll have a lot of mature trees and benches and picnic tables," he says. "It'll be a little less formal than getting sat at a dining room table and a good place to hang out without waiting."

Jen West, who does business development for Foothills Commercial Builders, the group contracted to work on the extension, adds that the new patio is expanding into the adjacent parking lot -- and will have 3,300 square feet of new space. "We're building heaters, flagstone walkways and a projector for movies," she says. "And an outdoor kitchen."

That's because the menu for Rio's patio will be different from the main menu in the restaurant. According to Stoldt, that list is currently being finalized, but, he says, crowds can expect specialty drinks.

The patio should be open by April 1, which also happens to be opening day for the Colorado Rockies.

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