Bambino's Italian Eatery, the longtime Colorado Springs pizza and pasta favorite, is moving to downtown and changing its concept.
Owners Suzette and Kevin Megyeri plan to close their restaurant at Platte Avenue and Circle Drive on Aug. 9; Bambino's opened at the location in 1982. Around Aug. 19, the Megyeris plan to reopen at 36 E. Bijou St., just west of Bijou and Tejon streets, as Bambino's Urban Pizzeria.
The location they've leased at Platte and Circle has been good for Bambino's, Suzette Megyeri said. But it's an aging part of town, she said, and the Megyeris wanted to move downtown to a building they've owned for 14 years.
"That neighborhood was really good to us for many years, but it's time for us to move on and get into our own property," she said.
Last year, the Megyeris opened the Skirted Heifer hamburger restaurant on Tejon Street in the heart of downtown; they've done well with the restaurant and have become enamored with downtown's ambiance and diverse customer base, Suzette said.
"We have met so many merchants and entrepreneurs and business people and school kids," she said. "I was so pleasantly surprised at how much CC (Colorado College) and Palmer High School support the businesses down there. It's amazing. And then in tandem with the tourists, the business people, it's just so eclectic."
Many of Bambino's employees will move to the new location, which will employ about two dozen people, she said. The downtown site will be smaller - about 2,000 square feet compared with 5,000 square feet at Platte and Circle. The downtown Bambino's will seat 42 people in the restaurant and 20 more on a patio.
But the biggest change will be the concept.
For years, Bambino's expansive menu included calzones, sandwiches, soups, salads and a popular lunch buffet. However, the buffet - costly to maintain because of rising food prices - and many other menu items will disappear, Megyeri said.
The new Bambino's will be a fast- casual eatery serving more traditional Neapolitan pies - whose dough is made with a flour milled in Italy, water, yeast and sea salt and excludes eggs, oil and sugars, Megyeri said.
Customers will order a pizza and walk along a Chipotle-like line to choose their sauce, cheese, meats and veggies, while a new Italian dome-style, 700-degree oven will bake pizzas in five minutes.
"We want to marry the quality with the speed," Megyeri said.
The new Bambino's also will offer specialty pizzas already listed on the menu, along with pasta bowls, mac and cheese, salads, desserts, soft drinks, beer and wine, she said.
The restaurant will have a separate room where passers-by can watch employees make the Neapolitan dough, breads, mozzarella cheese and frozen custard. Tables and walls will use reclaimed wood from the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires, among other environmentally friendly building features.
But Springs-area residents have been accustomed to a certain kind of pizza and comfort food at the old Bambino's; the restaurant was opened in 1978 in Old Colorado City by Barbara Megyeri, Kevin's mother. At one time, there were four locations.
Yet, Suzette Megyeri said she's not worried about how customers will react to the new Bambino's.
"We definitely are evolving for the next generation of this business," she said. "We've got several kids and family members that love the restaurant business, and we want to come up with a hot concept for them.
"Bambino's was so big and our menu was so big. That is a tough deal, running a restaurant like that," Megyeri said. Instead, she and her husband are ready to embrace a "just keep-it-simple concept and to do what you're doing right and organically and fresh. I am so excited about the new concept."
Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228
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