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Rustica updates itself, Springs Bikini Bar and Red Dog Coffee open 

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Rustica revival

Since opening six years ago, Pizzeria Rustica (2527 W. Colorado Ave., pizzeriarustica.com) hasn't adjusted its menu much. But all that will change in the new year, as the outfit plans to add an abundance of items, including a few pizzas and desserts, a couple of salads and up to six new antipasti plates.

Chef and GM Jay Gust (also co-owner/chef at TAPAteria) says to expect the new menu by late January, with continued feature specials leading up to that. "A) It was time for a change," he says, and, "B) after all our wine dinners and seeing what can be done out of a wood oven, we wanted to see what could be done to improve our menu."

Among the batch of newbies that "clientele have welcomed with super-open arms," he cites a smoked mozzarella with flatbread and a stuffed mushroom dish, featuring fungi filled with ricotta that's been whipped with garlic and salumi scraps. Also look for meatballs and a Caesar salad.

Beer and eye candy

The former Bijou Bar and Grill, turned The Script turned Savannah's, recently became the Springs Bikini Bar (2510 E. Bijou St., see social media pages). As the name suggests, service staff are indeed dressed only in summertime swimwear.

Owner Chantal Abeyta, who has more than 15 years' industry experience that includes Bunz Bakery & Burger Bar and The Donut Mill, says, "It's not sleazy. We're a classy bikini bar. We're family-friendly — I often have my kids here."

That said, she acknowledges that "the scenery is what draws people here. But we have great food, a full menu and full bar."

Abeyta's overhauled the spot, which had been closed since April. Saturdays and Sundays, breakfast is served all day, from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m., including biscuits and gravy and the like. Weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., you'll find classic bar food including a green chile slopper, jumbo wings, ultimate nachos, loaded fries and Guinness-battered black-and-tan onion rings.

Red Dog, with pedigree

The former Marika's Coffeehouse spot at 739 Manitou Ave. in Manitou Springs opened as Red Dog Coffee (reddogcoffeemanitou.com) on Halloween. Building and business owner Laura Thomason has also run Pikes Peak Chocolate and Ice Cream four storefronts away for the last eight years.

Aside from free PPC samples at the register, there's no direct business cross-over; Red Dog bakes its own sweets and buys gluten-free goodies (and sandwich bread) from The Paisley Pantry. General manager Jenny Clark buys her regular sandwich breads from Denver's Bluepoint Bakery and proteins from Boar's Head. Colorado Coffee Merchants provides the coffee beans.

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