Oct 162005
Authors: Matthew Galloway

Avogadro's Number – a popular and eclectic restaurant, bar and nightly music venue on Mason Street just north of campus – is getting set for some changes.

Owner Rob Osborne said coming months might see new additions to the menu and table service, as well as plans to present dinner shows.

Special acoustic material is also being installed to enhance the sound of the local and national acts that come through the well-known establishment.

Farther from the stage will be muffling carpet so diners can talk without disturbing those listening to the music. Music, Osborne said, is the underlying theme for his venue.

"You can spend two hours watching TV and feel nothing – or you can spend two hours watching a show and it will stay with you a long time," Osborne said.

The restaurant, nicknamed "Avo's," dates back to 1971 when two CSU graduates opened the sandwich shop, feeling there wasn't anywhere to buy a good sub. Osborne bought the business nine years later.

From the beginning Avo's walls have decorated with art, though Osborne has added to it. Such artists as Ribo, Susan Dailey and Eugene Hoffman have contributed. Angels, employees, Margaret Mead and Osborne's father are just a few of the subjects that can be found on the wall.

The shop also boasts tempeh burgers, a versatile, vegetarian meat alternative composed of fermented soybeans and edible fungus.

"They're really unique, well-established, have some strange food," said Malia Jones, junior English major. "They're one of the only places you can actually get vegetarian food that isn't salad."

Osborne feels that to survive a business always needs to grow. He is planning to expand the menu in six to nine months, exploring "new food horizons" and moving away from just the sandwich.

On special occasions Avo's has offered a diverse array of foods, including Ethiopian and Polynesian dishes.

"Everyone who works here makes a contribution and leaves something behind that they can come back to," he said.

Morgan Taylor, a restaurant employee, confirmed this. His brother hadn't worked at Avo's for eight years, but was immediately rehired when he became unemployed.

"It's like working with family; Rob doesn't necessarily treat us like his kids … though sometimes he treats us like children," Taylor said with a grin. "Employees come here to have lunch, drinks. They're here with their friends because their friends work here. We also have a great set of regulars. I could make more money someplace else, but I wouldn't be as happy."

Osborne bought Avogadro's Number "around the time of Mork and Mindy," he said. While he was scouting for a spot to open up a second ice cream store, he stumbled across Avo's.

He bumped into the owner who was returning from Kinko's with copies of his business papers. A couple was interested in buying the establishment. He decided to give Rob a copy of the paperwork and told him to call by Monday. Osborne said everything looked good and he met others who loved Avo's, so he bought it and eventually sold his Boulder business.

"They had everything well-mapped-out," he said. "They were just done with college and were used to homework and research."

The restaurant's name had a stormy start.

Before opening the restaurant, the original owners had to retrieve belongings from Kansas. On the way back they were caught in a Nebraskan storm while trying to decide on a name.

As the story goes, one of the CSU grads brought up Avogadro's number – the large constant number used in chemistry and physics calculations – and there was a shockingly loud clap of thunder "as if divine words were spoken."

In the past two-and-a-half decades, some things haven't changed.

"I feel like I'm accomplishing something," Taylor said. "I had a lady come in today who hadn't been in since '84 and we still had her favorite sandwich."

He added: "I can make people smile here everyday."

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