Openings and Closings

Two Albuquerque Eateries Head for Colorado — Including "The World's Friendliest Restaurant"

When we think of food and Albuquerque, we tend to think of chile — red or green — and not much else, especially when it comes to exporting the culinary offerings of New Mexico beyond the state's dusty borders. But a couple of ABQ restaurateurs are out to prove that there's more to the Southwest than Southwestern cuisine. And that's a good thing for Denver — because we already have plenty of our own Den-Mex to keep our foreheads sweating for the foreseeable future.

A darling of New Mexico television, Tim's Place, also known as "the world's friendliest restaurant," just announced that it will be coming to Colorado soon. Tim's is owned by Tim Harris, who makes a point of serving hugs along with comfort-food breakfast and lunch. Harris has Down Syndrome and studied food service at Eastern New Mexico University before opening his restaurant in 2010. His exuberant personality along with his non-profit organization, Tim's Big Heart Foundation, have garnered attention from CNN,  the View and CBS News.

Tim's Place will close in Albuquerque on December 20 because Harris is moving to Denver to be with his girlfriend. A location for the new Tim's Place has not yet been selected, but the restaurant's managing partner, Zac Perez, told the Albuquerque Journal that the plan is to open next year. While New Mexicans will certainly miss Harris and his restaurant, we're ready for an eatery that puts friendly first — and we'll welcome him with open arms. 

Another Albuquerque import, Dion's Pizza, has already landed, opening at 25750 East Arapahoe Road in Aurora's Serenity Ridge development (betcha didn't even know there was such a thing) last week. Jon Patten and Bill Scott opened the first Dion's in 1978 and have since built a small pizza empire, with 21 locations now spanning from Lubbock, Texas, to metro Denver. The Aurora pizzeria is the second Colorado Dion's;  like the others, it features an open kitchen and a kid's station where young diners can watch and interact as their pies are made. There's also a handy pick-up window for those who don't want to hang out at Serenity Ridge (tempting as that sounds). The menu offers build-your-own options by the slice or as whole pies, along with house combos like the 505 with pepperoni and green chile. There are also subs, salads and a pizza kit with a dough ball, sauce, cheese and one topping if you and your kids want to make your own.
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation