Captain D’s Seafood Kitchen has opened its first Colorado restaurant in nearly a quarter century, dropping anchor this week along busy Powers Boulevard in northeast Colorado Springs.

A nearly 3,000-square-foot Captain D’s opened Monday and began serving the chain’s signature batter-dipped fish, shrimp, salmon, hush puppies and other items at 4441 Integrity Center Point, northwest of Powers and Barnes Road.

It’s the first Captain D’s to open in the state since 1995, said franchisee Lester Nowell. He now operates four Captain D’s in Colorado Springs; other locations are 1234 E. Fillmore St., 1107 N. Academy Blvd. and 2495 S. Academy.

He closed a restaurant on South Eighth Street about 1 1/2 years ago and one on far North Academy in 2007.

Based in Nashville, Tenn., and founded a half-century ago, Captain D’s bills itself as a fast-casual alternative to burgers, pizza and other fast food. The chain has more than 530 corporate-owned and franchised locations in 22 states.

A variety of reasons have contributed to the delay in expanding the Captain D’s brand in Colorado, Nowell said.

Corporate ownership has relied on franchisees for expansion and none has stepped up in Colorado over the years, Nowell said.

At the same time, Colorado and Colorado Springs restaurantgoers haven’t always embraced seafood when they go out to eat, instead preferring “steak and potatoes,” he said.

That’s changing as restaurantgoers look for healthier choices and begin to eat more seafood, Nowell said. Captain D’s has broiled menu items — such as shrimp, tilapia and Omega 3-rich salmon — to go with its fried fare.

“A lot of people think that we’re just fried, but we do a tremendous amount of broiled,” said Nowell, a southern Georgia native who moved to the Springs 33 years ago to become a Captain D’s franchisee.

“We’ve been doing that for 30 years now, but people still look at us just a fried food place and it’s not that at all.”

Nowell’s franchise is a family affair; his wife, son, daughter and daughter-in-law are involved in various parts of the operation, he said.

He chose Powers Boulevard for the restaurant because of its high traffic count and visibility. Powers arguably is the hottest retail area in the Pikes Peak region, with big-box department stores, smaller retailers, restaurants, banks, movie theaters and the like.

Thousands of homes have been built over the past 25 years in neighborhoods along Powers, while apartments and hotels increasingly are becoming part of the mix along the corridor.

The newest Captain D’s has a higher ceiling and walls, producing a more open feel, Nowell said. It seats nearly 100 people, and also has outdoor seating.

The restaurant has hired more than 30 people, and might add more, he said.

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