Cantina acquires Mambo

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The owners of the Cantina restaurant on Lincoln Avenue have purchased a popular Italian restaurant on the other side of the street.

Jeff and Kristi Brown, owners of the Mexican restaurant at 818 Lincoln Ave., recently purchased Mambo Italiano and its building at 521 Lincoln Ave. from Doug McNichol.

In an indirectly related move, the Browns have put the Boggs Building, also on Lincoln, under contract with an existing Steamboat retailer who plans to move into the space. The Browns had purchased the building and entertained opening an Italian restaurant there before Mambo became available.

Mambo Italiano opened less than a year after the Browns took control of the well-established Cantina in late February 2002.

"We watched Mambo open up, and it was all the buzz. We said, 'Let's see if it lasts.' Eighteen months later, we felt it was still one of the premium places in town," Kristi Brown said. "I can't say I could have done it better. We think they really struck gold with that formula, the hustle and bustle, the open kitchen and the singing waiter."

The Browns made the Cantina a no-smoking restaurant shortly after taking over. Last summer, they refurbished its interior and gave it a more open appearance by installing large windows in the front of the building.

The Browns will be cautious about tinkering with Mambo's success, Kristi Brown said. She plans to add veal marsala to the menu, and Mambo will begin serving lunch for the first time late this spring.

The Browns also are making plans to approach the city Planning Department about the possibility of constructing a new building toward the rear of the outdoor deck. It would replace an existing beer garden and include rooftop seating, she said.

Mambo Italiano in Steamboat patterned on a successful restaurant in Whitefish, Mont. Kristi Brown said McNichol is opening two new restaurants in Montana and no longer wished to travel between there and Steamboat.

Before Mambo opened, the space was occupied by Brent Holleman's Alpine Bistro.

When Jeff and Kristi Brown purchased the Boggs Building, they also bought out the purchase option of Paul Brown (no relation) who had leased the 5,700-square-foot former hardware building from Doug Boggs.

Paul Brown had spent the summer of 2003 remodeling the building with the intent of opening a New Orleans-style restaurant and performance stage, called the Round Room. That enterprise never got off the ground.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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