Steamboat Springs Lincoln Avenue will become the site of a new concept restaurant with a pizza/pasta/salad theme intended to test the market for possible franchising.
Principles in the seven-store regional chain, Beau Jo's Pizza, are among investors in a new group that will open the restaurant. However, the new restaurant may or may not include "Beau Jo's" in its name. It will open in the northwest corner of Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue in the original Mountain States Telephone Building.
"It will be a new concept that's fast and casual," Beau Jo's President Jim Abbs said. "We'd like to open four stores in the next two years. Steamboat will be the test. We're in discussions about whether to license the Beau Jo's trademark right now."
The new restaurants will feature the same pizza Beau Jo's has become known for, Abbs said, but there's likely to be less emphasis on table service. Instead, it may feature a buffet, or it might have a serving line and seating similar to another Front Range chain, Chipotle. The restaurants also are likely to serve pasta, sandwiches and salads.
Abbs did not offer a timetable for opening the restaurant. He said he was working with blueprints this week. The building, at one of Steamboat's busiest corners, has been vacant for three years after being remodeled in 2000. Commercial leasing specialist Bill Moser, who represented the property, said the owners came down from the original rent of $30 per square foot.
The building was a dental office for many years and is owned by dentist Richard Boyes. He has since moved to Greeley.
Beau Jo's got its start in 1973 in Idaho Springs, when founder Chip Bair opened an 18-seat store and did all of the work himself. The Idaho Springs restaurant has grown to 700 seats as Front Range skiers driving down Interstate 70 have stopped there to break up the drive with a meal.
Other Beau Jo's locations include Denver, Arvada, Highlands Ranch, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Evergreen. Most of those stores are recognizable for the mining antiques that make up much of their decor. The Steamboat store and the new concept it represents will break away from that theme, Abbs said.
"It will be a brighter mountain theme," he said.
The appearance of the Evergreen Beau Jo's on Highway 74 is more representative of what the new stores will look like, he added.
The size of the building at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue -- 1,800 square feet -- would not accommodate a traditional Beau Jo's, Abbs said. The new restaurant operators plan to take advantage of 600 square feet in the basement of the building for offices and a prep kitchen, bringing the usable square footage closer to 2,300 square feet, he said.
Among the other mountain towns the investment group is eyeing for its new concept are Durango and Avon, Abbs said.
Beau Jo's is organized as a limited liability company.