Zi South will open on Blake Street in the late winter or early spring

Forty one years ago, Jerry and Deb Sturm opened the South Restaurant, an Englewood joint that turns out a massive board of Mexican-American fare and fish bowl-size margaritas in a festive space.

Now, the family is getting ready to take their concept downtown: Next year, they'll introduce Zi South on 22nd and Blake Streets.

The group has signed the lease on a 4700-square-foot address on the ground floor of the Zi Lofts building, and they've hired Roth Sheppard -- the architects behind nearby restaurant Vesta Dipping Grill -- to build out the space.

"We gave the architect free rein," explains Brett Sturm, Jerry and Deb's son and the general manager of the new restaurant. "It'll feel like a classy, sophisticated place -- but without the upscale prices."

The restaurant, which will feature 190 seats between the bar, dining room and patio, will feature a menu similar to the one at the South Restaurant, though Brett admits that they're cutting the offerings in half and bringing on a chef to lend new dishes and expertise.

"We're known for our quesorito, and we'll be bringing over our fajitas, which I think are phenomenal," he says. "But we're in the process of writing the menu now." The Sturms are consulting with a chef at the Brown Palace to build the opening day menu, and then they'll look to him to find a new chef to come on full time.

Construction, says Brett, is slated to start in December, after building permits are secured. "We hope to be open at least a month before Rockies opening day," he notes.

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