How many times can a business pivot before it's facing the same direction as when it started? Rather than reacting, some restaurants are choosing to devise new strategies that could help them weather the pandemic and come out on the other side with built-in ways to grow their customer base. Walk-up windows, for example, are great for social distancing, but they've always been an efficient way to serve a high volume of customers in pedestrian-heavy urban areas. Here's how several restaurants are implementing service for walk-up customers.
Fox Run Cafe opened at 3550 East Colfax last March (just before the coronavirus shutdown began), so almost from day one, the staff was doing takeout-only business. The cafe opened its dining room over the summer, but with COVID-19 cases spiking dramatically over the past two weeks, owner Lucien Reichert is closing on Sunday, November 8, and taking a few days to shift back to a takeout-only model. He's dubbing the result Fox on the Run, and is adding menu items and a takeout window that will better serve the neighborhood. Customers will be able to order from the cafe's regular menu, but they'll also be able to choose housemade-pasta meal kits, prepared foods and pantry items, along with wine and bottled cocktails. Fox on the Run will reopen on Wednesday, November 11, and customers will be able to order online or by phone for pick-up or third-party delivery. See the cafe's website for menus and ordering details.
Just a few blocks away, Chef Zorba's (2626 East 12th Avenue) has been anticipating winter even as it served customers only on its expanded patio. For the past couple of months, the dining room was closed as it underwent a remodel to make the space better suited for socially distanced breakfasts and lunches. Owner Karen LuKanic also added a walk-up window, a nice touch in the pedestrian-friendly Congress Park neighborhood. The dining room reopened just in time for last month's snowstorm, and Chef Zorba's has also added online ordering for takeout and delivery. And unlike in past years, when the patio furniture was stacked and packed away during the winter, this year the outdoor seating will remain in place for use when weather permits.
In LoHi, the long-running Lola Coastal Mexican (1575 Boulder Street) has been utilizing one of its patio windows for walk-up service for the past several months. We envy neighbors who can swing by for a couple of tacos and a margarita to go, then hike up the hill for a cone from Little Man Ice Cream, all without changing out of their pajama pants and bunny slippers. But there are a few strange birds out there who don't like tacos, and for them Lola has added something new. On November 5, the eatery launched the Tender Project, serving fried chicken tenders and "ThighFries" — strips of chicken thigh meat cut into just the right size and shape for dipping in curry ketchup, apricot-habanero sauce, spicy goddess ranch, honey-gochujang bbq sauce or malt-vinegar aioli. Sides include waffle fries or furikake rice with kimchi.
Big Red F, which operates Lola, also runs the West End Tavern, at 926 Pearl Street in Boulder, where the company will launch the Cheesesteak Project beginning November 13 (which had previously been planned for November 11). The menu reads as you'd expect from a cheesesteak joint, only the ribeye is first smoked — the specialty at West End — before being griddled with onions and cheese and slapped onto a traditional Amoroso roll. This is the second in a series of "projects" that will pop up at Big Red F restaurants all winter; plans also include lasagna, oyster and soup projects. Big Red F founder Dave Query has also set up a commissary kitchen in Five Points for expedited delivery of Big Red F dishes to a wider audience, and is also getting into the food-truck game.
Oh, and in case you're one of those pajama-clad LoHi residents wandering the streets in search of good takeout options, Little Man, at 2620 16th Street, is serving more than just ice cream this November. Dis Burrito is taking over the walk-up window at the base of the giant creamery can from 7 to 10 a.m. every morning this month, serving foil-wrapped breakfast burritos stuffed with bacon, carnitas, chicken chorizo or veggies. Grab a burrito and a coffee for $10, including tax. Visit the Dis Burrito website for details.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.