Monday, December 2, 2013

Curry Leaf moves out (east), Coquette moves in (to downtown)

Posted By on Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Coquette’s Bistro & Bakery is downtown. I mean downtown Colorado Springs, not Manitou Springs. And I'm not just talking about the seasonal pop-up market at 104 N. Tejon St. 

I mean the gluten-free outfit has just signed a lease for a second location in the heart of the city (no offense, Old Colorado City), with tentative plans to be open by Valentine's Day, according to a press release distributed earlier this morning by co-owner Michelle Marx.

click to enlarge Hillstrom says she's relieved to be leaving downtown. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Hillstrom says she's relieved to be leaving downtown.
That space happens to be 321 N. Tejon St., former home of Flavors on Tejon and up until last week, the Curry Leaf, which was recently under fire for allegedly not paying its employees.   

Lana Hillstrom, owner of the Sri Lankan restaurant, tells the Indy she will reopen as soon as a couple of weeks from now in a new location "on the east side of town — East of Powers." She's not yet ready to release the exact address, but says the space is much closer to her own home as well as the majority of her loyal patrons' homes. 

Hillstrom adds that she feels "downtown is dying," citing problems with the homeless population, parking issues and the bar culture on the strip. As for the east side, "This is the fastest growing area of town ... I've been wanting to do this for a long time. I knew I was moving."  Finally, she says, her lease expired, allowing for the jump. 

She assures that "this will be the final move for the Curry Leaf," having moved into the Tejon Street space in early 2012 from the spot that recently became Brother Luck Street Eats. With the change, she says she'll revamp the menu with new items and likely add retail pick-up items as well as personal chef services.  

But back to Coquette: Marx confirms that "this happened very quickly for us," though she and her daughter Turu have had an eye on downtown for the last year-and-a-half, since they started "outgrowing our space" in Manitou Springs. "This has been a long time in the making," she says.  

As for what they have in store for the future, here's the body of their press release:

After a long search for an expanded home in downtown CS, Coquette’s Bistro & Bakery owners, Michelle Marx and Turu Marx Eurich (mother/daughter), are thrilled to have finally found ‘the one’ and have signed a lease for 321 N. Tejon.
Michelle states, “We couldn’t be happier with the space and with what we'll bring to it, but we’re equally as happy with the relationship we’ve developed with the many people we respect towards revitalizing downtown. We expect to have a lot of fun merging our energy with the action and creating co-ventures and promotional opportunities."
Turu adds, “The experience of being downtown with the pop-up retail space has just shown us how much our products are wanted with an easier access and how, not only are our loyal customers excited for us, but that whole new groups of people are finding us. It’s been incredible. We can’t wait to now have the space for a proper patio, receptions and bar." 
"We’re thrilled that Coquette's has chosen to stake its future on downtown Colorado Springs," said Susan Edmondson, President & CEO of Downtown Partnership. "Coquette's is a beloved regional brand that draws customers from throughout the Front Range. Their award-winning gluten-free offerings add to downtown's growing mix of eclectic, locally sourced, healthful dining options."
Dave White, president of the COS Regional Business Alliance adds, Getting such a high quality restaurant like Coquette's on North Tejon is an excellent step forward for the development of our downtown. We wish and Turu well as they enjoy their new home."
Coquette’s remains dedicated to being allergen conscious, 100% Gluten Free and Boldly Luscious™, breaking the mold of what’s expected. Danny Eurich, head chef, and team just take it farther away from ordinary GF all the time. They'll create more vegetarian/vegan offerings as they've found downtown is more engaged with it. Their unique GF comfort foods have built a strong following.
Michelle adds, “Manitou has been an amazing experience. We adore the locals and the tourist experience has carried what we do farther out into the country. We just kept outgrowing the location and we need to fully focus on this new adventure. It will take a lot of dedication and we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin. Coquette’s will still keep a smaller presence in Manitou, to be further announced and it will remain as it is through the move.”
click to enlarge The Coquette's Bistro crew obviously doesn't share the opinion that 'downtown is dying,' considering that they've been eyeing an ideal entry point into the marketplace for quite some time. - COURTESY COQUETTE'S BISTRO
  • Courtesy Coquette's Bistro
  • The Coquette's Bistro crew obviously doesn't share the opinion that 'downtown is dying,' considering that they've been eyeing an ideal entry point into the marketplace for quite some time.

In the past The Colorado Music Building and Lofts has housed Flavors, the Curry Leaf and a wine & grocery store. The almost 4,000 sq. ft space has never been utilized in the way Coquette’s will make use of it. They’ll create more “areas” and build a bar with full liquor license, featuring innovative cocktails. It will house a retail shop that will carry not only a larger variety of baked goods and pastries but also “take home” items like their exceptional potpies, lasagna and more. There will be a semi private party/ conference room as well to fill a need they see and left even more vacant by the Olive Branch closing. 

Elaborating on this release just a bit, particularly the line about "a smaller presence in Manitou," Marx says she will likely release a bit of that real estate and downsize some. But the rest of the business, including the production facility at 2130 Spectra Drive (which opened earlier this year to allow for retail expansion into outlets like Whole Foods) will continue to grow. 

Popular items from Manitou's cafe menu will join a list of new items on downtown's menu, she says, while the retail portion of this new downtown location should account for around a quarter of the location's space. 

With "cool cocktails" (until around 11 p.m. is the current plan) and gluten-free pastries baked on site, plus potential breakfast hours (especially with the Olive Branch departing the scene) on top of the restaurant offerings, Marx says the venture is "gonna be a really cool experience." 

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