Nineteen-year-old Orry Carr and his restaurant, The Funky Monkey Crepe Café, are two of the newest faces in Old Town.
Moving between two tables of customers in his small joint at 130 S. College Ave., Carr, who described both his personality and management as “laid-back,” says he is not concerned with competition from the dozens of restaurants in the city or the effects of the recession.
“With any business, the product absolutely has to be No. 1,” he says of his strategy to cope with both challenges. And that product is marketed to “basically anyone who can read.”
“(The Funky Monkey Crepe Café) sells Americanized crepes that are inexpensive and are 15 inches long instead of 12,” the recent graduate of Colorado’s Frederick High School says. “You can read the menu and know exactly what you’re going to get.”
Carr’s roots in the food industry grew while helping his family run their four restaurants and businesses throughout Colorado. And those roots help him today to compete in the heavily saturated Fort Collins food market, in which at least five new restaurants have made their home in the last year.
While the Downtown Business Association did not have an official list of the businesses opening or closing in Old Town, DBA Event Director Amanda Miller said tentatively that the following restaurants have set up shop in addition to the Funky Monkey Crepe Café:
-Rocky Mountain Blue Bell
-Bondi Beach Bar, which moved into the location formerly occupied by Zydeco’s,
-Tasty Harmony, and
Much like Carr, Sacha Speinhauser owner of the downtown health restaurant Tasty Harmony, says business hasn’t been slow since opening day in February 2009.
Speinhauser said his product fills a particular lifestyle niche, of the vegan and organic nature, and customers are very receptive to that. That community reception is what sets his business apart from others in the area.
As a local-based company that supports local farmers and dreams of a future of only organic and vegetarian food, Speinhauser hopes to educate the public about his business model and promote a similar lifestyle for his customers. That was one of his reasons for locating in Fort Collins.
“My body told me that this was the right spot. It felt right; it really clicked,” he said. “I love the location of the restaurant, and there is an untapped niche here. Hopefully, I can educate the customer about the business.”
Other Old Town additions shared Speinhauser’s desire to keep his company local, including the Brazilian franchise, Rodizio and Grill.
Kyle Villers, manager of the first Rodizio restaurant that opened in Old Town in December 2008, said the recession has not affected business because of the restaurant’s unique cultural niche.
“(One of the) concepts (of the restaurant) is called Churrascaria, which is Portuguese for barbeque. In Brazil, Gauchos would dig pits in the ground because it was windy. Then, they would skewer the meat, season it, rotate it and shave off a little for everyone to eat before putting it back on,” he said.
On any given night, there are more than 18 different meats and dishes available, ranging from sirloin to glazed pineapple.
As part of recent Old Town developments, several restaurants, including the downtown sushi joint Suehiro Japanese Restaurant, are updating their facilities.
When space was available, management decided to use the space to add a patio to expand its dining and lounge areas.
As for current business, Manager Jeff Nanbara said it “could be busier,” but that Suehiro will “take what (it) can get.”
Staff writer Chris O’Toole can be reached at email@example.com.