Come next year, Park Hill will be a little sexier.
Sexy Pizza said Monday that it plans to open its fourth location in Denver, at 2846 Fairfax St. in the Park Hill neighborhood, by the beginning of 2020.
“(Park Hill) fit into the geographic diversity of our stores,” said co-founder Kayvan Khalatbari. “If you look at our delivery areas, we’ve never had that northeast area covered.”
Sexy Pizza currently operates in Capitol Hill, Platt Park and Jefferson Park. The last new location opened in 2014.
“Every location has been determined by chance,” Khalatbari said. “We’ve never been proactive about expanding — it’s always been about the right timing and the right location. And we’re debt-free as a company for the first time, so we’re entering into our fourth location better able to finance it ourselves.”
Khalatbari said the business signed a five-year lease on its new storefront in Park Hill Commons, an under-construction block-long development that is slated to incorporate new residential units as well as retail and restaurant, all centered around a city park. Nathan Stern and Zach Cytryn of Broad Street Realty represented the tenant.
“It’s probably the most rent we’ll be paying (between our locations),” Khalatbari said. “It’s the first time we’ve worked with a larger developer (HM Capital) as a landlord. Our first three locations are owned by small, locally owned companies.”
But the development checked the boxes for an ideal Sexy Pizza location: a walkable neighborhood with high residential density.
“We’re not a strip mall kind of business,” he said.
Sexy Pizza was founded in 2009 by Khalatbari and four other partners, two of whom — Jeff Shanahan and Eric Johnson — remain on the ownership team. Kyle Peters was also brought on as co-owner.
The brand got its start in Cap Hill with a storefront at 1018 E. 11th Ave., before opening its second location at 1579 S. Pearl St. in Platt Park in 2012. Jefferson Park joined in 2014, when the business opened its third storefront at 2460 Elliot St.
The pizza stores employ about 70 people in total, and Khalatbari plans to hire about 15 more to staff Park Hill.
He said that the chain’s marketing budget for eight years hasn’t gone towards traditional advertising, but rather toward “providing free food and sponsoring the arts.”
Sexy Pizza’s website said it’s supported local arts projects such as Birdy Magazine, the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra and Girls Rock Denver, as well as nonprofits such as Denver Homeless Out Loud and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
Aside from Sexy Pizza, Khalatbari was a 2019 mayoral candidate, co-founder of comedy collective Sexpot Comedy, and co-founder and former co-owner of one of Denver’s first dispensaries, Denver Relief. In 2016, he sold Denver Relief’s cultivation facility to country star Willie Nelson for use by his cannabis company Willie’s Reserve, and sold its retail shop to Boulder-based recreational marijuana chain Terrapin Care Station.
In addition to opening its newest location, Khalatbari said Sexy Pizza is working toward an employee-ownership model, as another way to “take care of our employees.”
“We want to make sure we’re a diverse organization,” he said. “We deal with a lot of the same issues Denver is dealing with when it comes to growth.”