Reader: 55 spots in LoHi, and not a fast-casual restaurant to be found

loal birthday party chris.jpg
Christopher Morgan
Slide show: Lola's tenth anniversary party
Six years ago, shortly after Lola moved from Old South Pearl into a corner space at 1575 Boulder Street, the LoHi Merchants Group counted the bars, restaurants and coffee shops in the Lower Highland neighborhood-- bounded by West 38th to the north, Federal to the West, Speer and I-25 -- and came up with 22, many of them little Mexican joints or old-school Italian. Today the count is 55, with more to come.

And more to go, of course: most of those old-school Italian spots are gone, with both Pagliacci's and Longo's Subway Tavern closing their doors last year.

See also:
- LoHi goes from 22 bars and restaurants to 55 -- in just six years

- Slide show: Last supper at Pagliacci's
- Longo's Subway Tavern reaches the end of the line

We ran the list of LoHi's 55 dining/drinking establishments yesterday. And in response, thespot84 offers this:

and not a fast casual restaurant (locally owned, of course) to be found.

Is LoHi full? Or is there room for more restaurants in the neighborhood? And if so, what would you like to see there?


Location Info

Lola

1575 Boulder St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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16 comments
ruthtobias
ruthtobias

If there's one few-block radius in the USA that lacks franchises, those in the neighborhood should consider themselves lucky; aren't such rare quirks the point of living there? If you want to live within walking distance of fast-casual joints, you might consider just about any other neighborhood anywhere ever.

Jon_S
Jon_S

Has no one heard of take-out??? I guarantee that many of these 55 restaurants offer food to go. You could actually walk to a real restaurant, get food packaged up and take it home with you. You can even call ahead so you don't have to wait there. Believe it or not, fast causal restaurants do not have a monopoly in this area.

eyeroll
eyeroll

For those complaining about not being able to walk to a restaurant in order to get a bowl or tortilla full of rice: some might say that you could walk your butt into your kitchen, put some water and rice in a pot, turn a knob on your stove and shortly have a bowl of rice you could then smother in salsa, soy sauce, or what have you.  I suppose that would require you to find a new source of righteous indignation, however.  Too much effort - unless there's a locally owned business selling righteous indignation within walking distance.

Michael564
Michael564

Thanks for the explanations, and that is *exactly* what I thought Spot84 meant. But I distinctly recall a recent near-uproar in the blog when it was suggested that a Chipotle should open. "No! Leave the chains out!" "Don't ruin our bood with fast crap", etc. I guess you really just can't please everyone.

BTW, many of the places in LoHi offer take-out. Not quite fast casual because you can't sit and eat, but if you call ahead, you can walk in, pick up your food and walk home. No tip/expense to worry about. I've hit several spots on my way home from work and they've never had an issue.

david.m.roth
david.m.roth

I agree TheSpot84.  I live in LoHi and constantly wish that I could walk to get food and bring it back.  The only place right now is Masterpiece but they close at 8. 

Michael, fast casual means you don't sit down with a menu and spend at least $20 to get a meal.  On the other hand, it is not fast food.  The style can be like Tokyo Joes, Chipotle, etc, but that doesn't mean it has to be one of those!  Look at CU Boulder for instance who has places like Half Fast Subs, Illegal Petes, Cosmos Pizza, etc..  They are all inexpensive and put out a good product which is a great alternative to cooking or buying an expensive meal when you want to go somewhere in your neighborhood.  OH and please don't make the argument that I can go to West Highland to get Chipotle or 38th to get Burger King  because this has nothing to do with those areas.  This is specific to LoHi and walkable restaurants.

Michael564
Michael564

Agreed about the over-saturation, but please define "fast casual", especially with "locally-owned".

I hear "fast casual", my brian goes to McDs, BK, even Garbanzos or Tokyo Joes. None of those are locally owned. If the term means "sit and eat, but fast service", then Amato's fits the bill for sure. As does Laughing Latte, 32nd Treat (which closed 2 weeks ago, didn't it?), Pasquinni's, and Masterpeice Deli. 

So, what are you really talking about?


ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

It would be nice to see about 33 less places.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Michael564 I think the phrase "fast casual" is a pretty well entrenched industry term that doesn't really need defining every time it's brought up these days.

But since you are confused, the term generally applies to places in between fast-food restaurants and full-service restaurants. You walk in, order at the counter, and your food is prepared for you as you select items (like Chipotle, Garbanzo's, or Qdoba), or the food is brought to you after you sit down (like Noodles & Co.). In either case, you don't have a waiter and you don't necessarily need to consider the added expense of a tip (although many fast-casual places have tip jars on the counter). McDonald's is not a fast-casual restaurant. It may be both fast and casual, but in industry terms it's a fast-food restaurant. Any place where you sit down at a table and a waiter takes your order and brings your food and beverages is not fast-casual, no matter how fast and casual the service and atmosphere. 

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@foodcrazy Nice for who? Probably not nice for all the people employed at those places, or customers who are interested in variety and competition, which help keep restaurant owners on their toes.

thespot84
thespot84

@Mantonat @Michael564 I think you're right about the economics (though there is a quizno's on speer, technically in lohi). However, with 500 or so new apartments being filled within the next year, don't you think that'll change?

Michael564
Michael564

@Mantonat @Michael564 As I said, my brain goes to Garbanzo's, Tokyo Joe's, Chipotle. So I knew what he was talking about. Problem is: fast casual and locally-owned don't usually work together. 

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@chuckroast @Mantonat @Michael564 With all the restrictions everyone is placing on what they consider the perfect fast-casual restaurant for LoHi, it's no wonder you can't find a place to eat in your neighborhood. Let's see: 

  • it must be open later than 8pm, 
  • it must offer portable to-go food, 
  • it must be within walking distance of your exact residence in LoHi
  • it must be locally owned 
  • it can't be too big of a company 

The funny thing is that the DTC is overflowing with these kinds of places, but nobody would ever move there - it's just not cool! 

chuckroast
chuckroast

@Mantonat @Michael564 I don't think Chipotle is a locally owned business any longer, just because they have an office in Denver. It's a 10 billion dollar global corporation with locations in several countries and millions of shareholders who reside all over the world. The owners of a locally owned business live locally.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Michael564 @Mantonat The three you just named were founded in and have their corporate headquarters in Denver. Add to that list: Smashburger, Qdoba, Mad Greens, Quizno's, Noodles & Co., among others. In fact, Colorado is kind of the epicenter of fast-casual development. With all these locally owned chains, it actually is a little surprising that none are located in LoHi.

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