Just under a year ago, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Bobby Stuckey, co-owners of Frasca Food and Wine and the original Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, opened a second, more streamlined Pizzeria Locale in Denver in the former Il Vicino space at Sixth and Broadway. Then, late last year, Mackinnon-Patterson and Stuckey announced their partnership with Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle Mexican Grill, a collaboration that would allow Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson to grow the Denver Locale's fast-casual service model at a quicker pace than if the two went at it alone. As such, the duo is opening a third Pizzeria Locale, modeled after the Denver store, later this year in Highland, in a 2,000-square-foot space previously occupied by Common Grounds.
"We'd like to be open tomorrow, but we have to get through the permitting and all those other nuances that you have to go through before opening a restaurant, so it'll probably be mid-summer before we start construction, and, if we're being realistic, we'll open in late 2014," says Stuckey, who had his eye on the Highland 'hood even before he and Mackinnon-Patterson opened the Broadway space.
"I wanted to open a Pizzeria Locale in Highland from the beginning, so I was personally really pushing for the neighborhood," admits Stuckey, noting, however, that real estate in Highland isn't easy to come by. "There's just not a lot that comes up in Highland," he says. But when the Common Grounds plot became available, Stuckey found that it was everything he and Mackinnon-Patterson were looking for. "The building has good bones, it's the right size and on the right block, and in the right neighborhood with lots of families," he notes.
And, he adds, the interior will largely resemble the Sixth and Broadway space, give or take about twenty seats. "The Broadway location is about 20 percent larger than this one, and every space has its own terroir and its own set of things that make the particular space individual, but the menu will be exactly the same and, by and large, so will the space, although my gut feeling tells me that it will more closely mimic the vibe in Boulder, just by virtue of the number of families in the area," he says.
Parking, of course, is at a premium in Highland, although Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson are no strangers to that annoyance, especially considering that the Broadway parking lot is one of the most congested in the city. "At the moment, we have the worst record when it comes to parking lots," jokes Stuckey, conceding that they inked the deal on the Highland storefront realizing that parking was at a premium. "It's a challenge -- a free-for-all -- and it worries me, but that's just part of the piece of that neighborhood," he says, pointing out that a lot of residents in Highland get around on foot. "There's a lot of walking around in that neighborhood, and that's kind of what we were looking for: a great walkability factor," he notes.
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Once the Highland spot opens, Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson will undoubtedly unleash others, although Stuckey insists that they're in no rush. "We'll look for spaces when we feel like we have people in place that are ready for the next step in their career," he says. "It's totally the opposite of how a lot of people go on a land grab. It's much more about having a team together that's ready to run their own space, and that's why we're growing so slow," he explains. Nonetheless, a third Denver location is already on the horizon.