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With the Woodland Park Planning Commission recommendation of a conditional use permit and if the Woodland Park City Council also approves the permit during a public hearing on Oct. 21, the old Denny’s Restaurant building will have a new life as the Stuft Food Emporium, a family-style restaurant.

With a catchy name and recipes designed to tease the taste buds, The Stuft Food Emporium is set to enter the gustatory scene in Woodland Park in a few weeks. Opening in the old Denny’s restaurant, the food emporium is a restaurant/game room/sports bar.

The “stuft” part of the name comes from the concept of combining recipes as toppings or meals. “For instance, we’ll take a baked potato and put a whole Philly Cheesesteak sandwich on it,” said Michael Andersen, the chef who switched from cooking on wheels to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. “Basically, we’ll take a lot of different toppings and put them in different things.”

Andersen is ambitious about his menu. With an imagination on a culinary fast track, Andersen is developing “stuff” that includes the Hawaiian cowboy burger, seafood, salads, pastas, steaks and dishes from Mexico and Italy.

Andersen and business owner Mark Marovitch were partners in the The Stuff Traveling Emporium in Orlando, Fla. Eventually they brought the food truck to Colorado Springs. “We were catering music festivals and large events,” Andersen said.

For the new venture, the indoor emporium will feature a sports bar with nine televisions, pool tables, a game room and a private party room available for rent.

Pamela Decker joins the team as the emporium’s general manager.

In a time of severe labor shortages, the business is offering $500 sign-on bonuses and paid vacation, pending completion of a probationary period, and incentives for servers with the highest-ticket sales for the month.

With 30 jobs available, Decker said she has hired nearly 20 employees so far. Many of the new hires say they want to be part of helping a new business grow, she said.

In the meantime, the former Denny’s is getting a complete makeover. The rock fireplace stays but that’s about it. Everything else will be new, including the kitchen.

The team expects to open the restaurant by early November.

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