Best Of 2012: New Restaurant (since July 1, 2011)
The first sign of Tucanos' heart for the Colorado Springs community came with its opening, when the chain restaurant helped raise some $7,500 for three local nonprofits. But it was made even clearer on a flier posted this past summer at Cheyenne Mountain High School.
"Sunday, July 1, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., we are opening our doors at Tucanos to Waldo Canyon Fire Evacuees for a lunch on us," read the paper near the gym-turned-evacuee-hub. "It'll be on a first-come, first-serve basis (we can feed upwards [of] 1,000 guests) ..."
It was a perfect example of what owner Steve Oldham told me when I said he was a finalist in this coveted category: "We enjoy being [in Colorado Springs]; we really like the community and like being involved."
Well, the community clearly likes them back. I imagine it has something to do with the basics: You get all-you-can-eat meat off a skewer, proffered table-side, for around 20 bucks.
Of course, it doesn't cook itself.
"Usually, prep for the day starts about 7:30, 8 o'clock in the morning," says Oldham. "The grills start getting fired up between 10 and 10:30. A number of our meats are marinated overnight; some of our meats are actually cooked overnight, [like] our assado, which is a roast brisket we actually cook all night long. So they come in and pull that out of the oven in the morning and get it ready to go."
On top of that, customers can eat from a huge salad bar full of pastas, fruits and even fried bananas. It's a recipe for success that's led to locations in Utah, Idaho and New Mexico, and a soon-to-open one in Virginia.
"We like to think of ourselves as the urban, Rio de Janeiro version of a Brazilian grill," says Oldham. "So we're a little more festive, a little bit more energetic ... and really try and be reminiscent of the tropical nature of Brazil, with a more urban-type finish." — Byrce Crawford