The new sign outside 4500 Washington Street caused more than a few drivers to slam on the brakes -- not just because they suddenly realized they needed some fiery Bubba Chinos green chile, but they wondered what had happened to the longtime tenants of the building, Muneca's Mexican Restaurant and Dolly's, which at various times had been everything from Dolly's Party Time to Dolly's Sport's Bar to Dolly's Chili Spot.
"I'm Dolly," says Betty Kelley, when asked about the changes at the location, where she's been for the past forty years, the last twenty of them at some variation of Dolly's. And the restaurant business is still there, but on August 1 she turned it into an outpost of Bubba Chinos, serving the dishes initially introduced at the first Bubba Chinos at 160 Federal Boulevard. See also: - BubbasChinos owner Leonard Cordova makes changes in his business plan - Bubba Chinos serves up authentic "Chicano" cuisine - Photos: Mural behind Bubba Chinos pays homage to rap legends
"The food is excellent," Kelley says of the original Bubba Chinos recipes. But because they're now coming out of Kelley's kitchen, in a very different neighborhood from the original Bubba Chinos, they taste a little different here, she says.
Leonard Cordova is a grandson of Stella Cordova, the late, legendary powerhouse behind Chubby's. Many of her offspring went into the Mexican food business, including Leonard, who opened his first restaurant in 1999. A few years ago, Leonard had big plans for franchising Bubba Chinos outposts around the country -- but after a few missteps here in Denver, he's scaled back those plans.
But Kelley's operation looks like a good next stop for Bubba Chino's. She's put up a partition in the vast restaurant space, and might lease out some of the building to another business -- but right now, things are definitely cooking at 4500 Washington.