TheÂ smell of coffee and eggs rush to mix with the outside air as the door to the breakfast diner swings open.
Upon entering Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, it appears the breakfast experience will be the same as every other. But then, take a moment to soak it all in â€“ the modern 60â€™s decor, the artistic plates of food passing by and Frank Sinatra singing over the early-morning buzz â€“â€“ and itâ€™s obvious this is not your typical restaurant.
With its first branch opened in 2006 in the Ballpark Neighborhood near Coorâ€™s Field and the newest in Fort Collins on April 19, Snooze is the brainchild of Denver native John Schlegal.
Having worked in restaurants since he was 14, bussing tables, and after two eye-opening tax internships, Schlegal decided to go into hotel, restaurant and tourism management at the University of Denver. And after graduating in 1997, he made the food industry the focus of his life.
â€œI thought, â€˜cool, this is something I could do,â€™â€™â€ Schlegal said of working in restaurants.
But after years of long hours and late nights at some of Denverâ€™s top food establishments â€“ Sushi Den and Mao â€“ he decided he should adapt his passion to fit his priorities, which at the time, included family and his own well-being.
â€œI hit the snooze button one morning, and my life changed,â€ Schlegal says, grinning and looking around at the families, couples and college students enjoying his restaurantâ€™s food.
So was born the name of his restaurant from that â€œcool word,â€ snooze.
â€œEverybody eats breakfast,â€ Schlegal says, â€œbut not everyone can go out for fine dining.â€
The simplistic plastic booths and warm walls, adorned with mod starbursts, were designed to put off a cool vibe, Schlegal says, and are anything but pretentious.
Though the atmosphere is anything but pretentious, the menu takes traditional breakfast items and adds flair of high-class dining.
The Barbeque Benny Sope Style combines slow-roasted shredded Niman Ranch Beef atop house black beans and homemade masa cakes. The dish is then topped with poached eggs, smoked cheddar hollandaise, cojita cheese and salsa fresca ($10).
For something simple yet delicious, try Juanâ€™s Breakfast Tacos ($7.50), a combination of three fresh corn or flour tortillas that are filled with scrambled eggs, shredded hash browns, jack cheese and ranchero sauce.
The restaurantâ€™s focus, however, is its pancakes.
Years ago, Schlegal worked with a chef out of Denver who had the best pancake recipe â€“â€“her grandmotherâ€™s.
Impressed with his business plan, Brenda Buenviaje told Schlegal she was on board. He need only call her when he needed someone to design his pancake menu.
About five and a half years after he first hit the snooze button, the pieces, both in terms of money and real estate, fell into place and Schlegal opened his first store at Park Avenue and Larimer Street.
True to her word, Buenviaje flew out to Denver. And after battling Denverâ€™s high altitude, came up with a recipe that Schlegal says is perfectly balanced.
The best part?
Snooze adapted its sought-after pancake recipe for people who are gluten intolerant.
Order either the Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes with fresh chunks of caramelized pineapple, housemade vanilla crÃ¨me anglaise and cinnamon butter, the Sweet Potato PancakesÂ topped with homemade caramel, pecans and ginger butter or something more traditional: Plain olâ€™ Buttermilk, Blueberry, Chocolate Chip or Reeses ($7.50).
_Staff photographer Michael Kalush and News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. _