Flat-out expansion

Not to be mistaken for Boulder's iconic foothills, Manhattan's famous district or a hair-straightening gadget, Flatiron's restaurant should be open around late May or early June in the former Bennigan's at 2540 Tenderfoot Hill Road.

Luke Travins of Concept Restaurants (SouthSide Johnny's, MacKenzie's Chop House, the Ritz Grill and José Muldoon's) is the majority owner in the south-side venture, with the rest owned by Concept partner Dave Lux.

"I've been actively pursuing new restaurant opportunities for the last five to eight years," says Travins. "I know market conditions inside and outside of downtown ... I had my eye on [Bennigan's] the day it closed."

Macaroni Grill and other chains nearby are doing relatively well, he says, and that in mind, he'll very consciously package Flatiron's with a franchise look: "Considering the building we're moving into — a pad site with parking — that's what it's built for. Which is not to say we won't be original."

What they will be is a "casual and energetic American grill ... very reasonable and affordable, which is what that area of town desires."

In food terms, that translates to items like rotisserie chicken, barbecue ribs, a signature flatiron steak and burgers with house-baked buns: "Some trendy things and some throwback, comfort-food items."

A family affair

The first time Lucho Freyre wanted to open his own restaurant, he was 19, and he approached his father and uncle as investors. Not a bad move, considering his dad owned (and still owns) the Manitou Pancake and Steak House, and his uncle's a longtime high-end restaurant professional (now leading Joseph's Fine Dining). Lucho's Place was born and lasted two years, during which time Freyre "learned how not to run a restaurant."

Now 32, Freyre has worked in roofing sales for the past few years to generate his own capital for Sopa's Restaurant, which opened March 9 at 6530 S. Academy Blvd. (538-7672). Its menu features an eclectic blend of breakfast entrées, smoothies, fresh fruit parfaits, soups, salads, sandwiches and pastas, some influenced by traditional Peruvian family recipes and others drawing from American and international cuisine.

An interesting aspect to Sopa's logo and menu design: Freyre consulted with a Pikes Peak Community College design class that his friend teaches, challenging students to bring his concept to life. He liked student Aeryn Dahl's work so much, he implemented it.

  • The backstory on two new Springs eateries: Flatiron's and Sopa's Restaurant


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