Fast-Casual Roundup: A New Locale, Hawaiian Brain Freeze and Free Mac and Cheese

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While the big news in fast-casual this week is the opening of Avanti Food & Beverage in LoHi, even with seven food counters under a single roof there's one thing you won't find there: mac and cheese. For that you'll have to turn to one of Denver's industry veterans, Noodles & Company, which will help you satisfy your mac and cheese craving tomorrow, July 14, with a cheesy noodle giveaway — on National Macaroni & Cheese Day, no less (one of the finer made-up national food days, although not government-sanctioned). Noodles & Company is offering a free small mac and cheese bowl with the purchase of any regular entree — but you'll need to print a coupon first, which is available at the company's Facebook page.

Denver continues to be not just an incubator of quick-service chain eateries but a magnet for them as well. Coffee and smoothie chain Maui Wowi is so impressed with our city that CEO Mike Weinberger just moved the company's headquarters here and opened a handful of new locations, including walk-up counters at Coors Field and Red Rocks Amphiteatre. Maui Wowi also opened its first-ever corporate-owned retail store, after 25 years of franchising carts, trucks, trailers and kiosks (there are currently more than 450 worldwide). The new Maui Wowi opened at the end of June in Lowry in the Hanger 2 development. So now you can have fun saying "Maui Wowi Lowry" as you brain-freeze your way through a tropical fruit or cappuccino smoothie.

As proof of Denver's ability to turn out top-caliber fast-casual concepts, restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson — of Frasca Food & Wine fame — are opening their first Pizzeria Locale chain outside of Colorado next week in Kansas City, Missouri. This will be only the third Pizzeria Locale in the chain — which also partially owned by Chipotle Mexican Grill — but there's another in the works in Cincinnati, Ohio. The fast-casual version of Pizzeria Locale was inspired by the Frasca duo's full-service original in Boulder, which opened in 2011 serving Neapolitan pies. The two Denver pizzerias are located on Broadway and on West 32nd Avenue

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