Mainstream American diners are in love -- or at least extreme lust -- with homegrown Colorado chains. And two of them -- Garbanzo and Snooze -- just made the Nation's Restaurant News list of top "breakout brands" for 2013.
See also: -The falafel truth at Garbanzo -Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill: Hail fellow, well-Med! -Wake up and smell the coffee: Snooze opens today in Boulder - 100 Favorite Dishes: Pineapple upside-down pancakes from Snooze
Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill received "breakout factor" nods from Nation's Restaurant News for ethnic cuisine, healthful bent and "hot culinary niche." That sounds about right, because Garbanzo delivers all three -- and more.
Alon Mor opened the first Garbanzo in 2007; today the company has fifteen Colorado locations and plans to add another five to ten company and franchised stores in the first half of 2013, with more to follow. Garbanzo's menu brings nutrition and a touch of exotic Mediterranean street fare to the table, with healthful vegan, vegetarian and meat entrees, salads and sides, including some of the best babaganoush in town -- smoky, savory and creamy, with housemade pita bread thast customers can watch come out of the oven.
Snooze, our local breakfast/brunch chain, has one of the most creative morning menus in town, and customers line up outside the various locations' doors on the weekends to get their mitts on rosemary sausage gravy pot pies, the Bella! Bella! Eggs Benny with Taleggio cheese and prosciutto, and Snooze's signature pineapple upside-down pancakes.
Snooze got "breakout" factor props from Nation's Restaurant News for its innovative approach to food/operations, "funding/ownership change" and new executives or leadership team. Jon Schlegel founded Snooze in 2007 and there are currently six locations -- five in Colorado and one in San Diego, which has been such a hit that it inspired the changes in Snooze's structure so that the company can focus on national expansion. "Last year the brand gained a private equity partner in San Francisco-based Weston Presidio," NRN reports, and Industry veteran David Birzon (formerly of Paradise Café ) was hired on as chief executive, freeing Jon Schlegel to pursue other activities while his brother, Adam, continues with day-to-day company operations (and other activities on the Denver dining scene: He's the past president of Eat Denver). Snooze has plans to add two or three more stores this year, moving into Arizona and Texas.
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.