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Potato Potato gets rolling and more 

Side Dish

Let's call the whole thing on

Potato Potato (search for "potatopotatocos") is the brainchild of 41-year-old Kevin Johnson, and it's got a very specific market: "Our primary customer is going to be late-night folks," Johnson explains. "People who've had a couple of drinks. And are hungry."

With chef de cuisine Aaron Retka (most recently of the now-defunct Conscious Table), Johnson has designed a Colorado-sourced, spud-centric menu for his mobile kitchen, with two dishes in the spotlight: fries and poutines (aka fries, cheese curds and brown gravy). That from-scratch, house-made gravy, by the way, comes in both beef- and mushroom-based versions. "We'll always have something for vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike," he says.

Rotating weekly specials will showcase Retka's creativity, Johnson adds, ranging from potato as primary (think gnocchi and chowders) to potato as standard sidekick (steak frites, fish and chips). To all of this, they'll add freshly made aiolis, ketchups and proprietary salt and spice blends.

Johnson's on target to open the first week in March, putting the food truck downtown and in "food deserts all over El Paso County." But first, he's got one more key component to wrap up. Johnson plans to help a different organization each month with no-cost marketing opportunities — perhaps through a display space on the side of the trailer — and maybe some of the truck's earnings.

"Amber [Coté, his wife] and I have spent a lot of time in the nonprofit field," says Johnson, adding, "It just makes sense that if we're seeing any success, that we want to make sure to share that success."

Variety at Spice of Life

Local Jeff Hogan, a former aerospace industry guy, closed on Spice of Life Café (727 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-5284) last week. Hogan says he plans to "keep focused on the current locals who come in day-to-day ... and not focus on the tourism in the summer. We figure that will take care of itself."

Plans for the future include moving the kitchen to the back so he can bring in some evening meal service, as well as shifting inventory to more local distributors. While the restaurant will remain open in the meantime, Hogan says he is aiming for a relaunch in April.

Principal's calling ...

Sign up for the new Coffee Class at Ivywild's Principal's Office (1604 S. Cascade Ave.), offered 10 a.m. every third Saturday of the month beginning Jan. 18. Topics, including Ethiopian coffees at the first class, will vary each session. The $15 fee includes a Bristol beer or cup of coffee. RSVP at 368-6112.

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