Change afoot in restaurant scene
Several Durango eateries growing amid expanding economy
When diners walk into Homeslice Pizza’s new location, they’ll be greeted with a familiar, yet unconventional sight: the pizza shop’s food truck.
The restaurant constructed the new shop at 2915 Main Ave. from scratch but decided to put the food truck to use as its kitchen for the next two years and open the pizza shop sooner. Owner Cory Kitch plans to build a kitchen with a rooftop patio after the two years.
Homeslice is just one local restaurant making some changes. Others are opening new locations, giving an existing location a much-needed face-lift and changing the menu, possibly a sign that Durango’s economy is improving with the national economy as the Dow Jones industrial average regained all the losses during the Great Recession and hit a record high earlier this week.
While the new pizza restaurant will feature the same specialty pizzas Homeslice is known for, it will also have new sandwiches, including gyros and Mediterranean-themed sandwiches, and an appetizer menu.
It also will have a full bar with an extensive wine list and beers on tap. The south location only serves select beers and wines.
The new building is considerably larger than the shop at 441 E. College Drive. Kitch said he wants the building to retain the relaxed, Durango feel but feature an industrial look.
The new store will seat 30 inside and 30 outside because the landscaping is designed as seating. The front patio also will have a fireplace and a wall with the herbs growing up it.
Durango High School seniors frequently make the trek to Homeslice’s original location during their lunch hour, but Kitch expects them to start going to the new store when it opens Friday, along with families that live on the north side of town and people passing through on U.S. Highway 550.
Zia Taqueria is also opening a new location. The new restaurant at 400 South Camino del Rio will open at the end of March.
Owner Tim Turner purchased Iron Horse Pizza’s building and is remodeling the space so it will match the atmosphere of the north location.
Turner decided to open a second location of the popular Mexican food joint to give employees more responsibility and an avenue to make a sustainable income so they could start buying homes and having kids.
He said he has been looking for the perfect location since 2007 and has been building a team of employees for the new store. He hired some of Iron Horse’s employees to fill additional positions.
Turner hopes to install an employee bathroom and shower to encourage them to ride their bikes to work.
The new store will boast the same menu as the original restaurant at 3101 Main Ave., though the weekly specials could get some alterations to more heavily feature produce in season, Turner said.
Bread co-owner Rob Kabeary said he has no update about when the bakery’s new location at 135 East Eighth St. will be ready.
Kabeary submitted an application to the Design Review Board in January for new awnings over the windows and doors of the building.
Carver Brewing Co. is getting a new look for the first time in more than two decades.
The brewery will be closed for about 10 days starting March 25 to install a new storefront with a lift and slide door, similar to the one Chimayo has, to give customers the option of open-air seating. The sidewalk in front of the building also will have three small bistro tables.
An extensive remodel has been in the works for about a year, said co-owner Mike Hurst.
“(Durango dining) is a more competitive scene, and diners have more choices. We’re investing into the look to bring more of a high-scale feeling to the atmosphere,” he said.
The long wall along the left-side of the restaurant when diners first walk in will be a brick wall, and the wood ceiling is getting a new gloss. Both the front and back parts of the restaurant will have new lighting.
Local metal sculptor Ryan Finnigan is creating a few sculptures that will be placed around the restaurant, including a long sculpture to give diners more privacy.
Another brewery is slated to open a new restaurant Memorial Day weekend.
Steamworks Brewing Co. currently is remodeling the building at 945 Main Ave. that recently housed the Rain Dance Gallery into El Moro Spirits & Tavern.
“This will be an ‘approachable’ upscale restaurant, celebrating our local agricultural community, as well as the history of downtown Durango,” said Steamworks owner Kris Oyler in a news release.
The restaurant will feature farm-to-table food, smoked meats and craft beer from around the world, the release said.
In other local restaurant news, Christina’s Grill & Bar is now serving Mexican food.
The Naranjo family, owners of Tequila’s Mexican Restaurant in Cortez, bought the restaurant about a year ago and decided to switch up the menu in the hopes of bringing in more customers, said manager Jonathan Naranjo.
The restaurant now features the same menu as Tequila’s, but Naranjo said the family kept some of the daily specials, including the soup and salad bar and $5 burger night on Tuesdays.