For Vail-based Yellowbelly Chicken, business in Arvada wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
The fried chicken sandwich restaurant closed up shop at 7450 W. 52nd Ave. in September in an effort to stabilize the business and focus on its more profitable locations in Boulder and Vail, according to co-founder Michael Friedberg.
The Arvada location opened in 2017.
“We’ve done business in a variety of places, but Arvada was just a horrible place to be in business,” Friedberg said.
Last year, the city randomly assigned a sales tax audit to the restaurant, Friedberg said, and found that Yellowbelly’s construction vendors had charged the business state tax and not local Arvada tax.
“We were tied up with that for months and, as a small company, we don’t have in-house bookkeeping, so I spent over $2,000 on it,” Friedberg said. “Then we got hit with a $10,000 bill in the middle of the government shutdown. While Boulder and Vail are offering deferment and payment programs, Arvada just said, ‘Pay up.’”
Yellowbelly reopened for takeout and delivery in May and dine-in a month later, but sales were down significantly and bills continued to pile up. So, Friedberg and his two co-founders Barry Davis and chef Eric Wuppermann worked out a deal with the landlord and moved out.
“It’s a bummer not to be able to share our food with Arvada anymore, but not to be done with this mess,” Friedberg said.
The three co-founders opened Yellowbelly’s first location in Vail in 2012 as a way to offer a healthy alternative to comfort food. The Boulder location opened in 2013.
The restaurant offers fried and roasted chicken along with seasonal sides through a build-your-own plate model, similar to Chipotle.
Yellowbelly also opened a location in Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace a few years ago, but closed it in March prior to the pandemic shutdown.
“The projected operating costs in Stanley were a fraction of what the actuals were, so we were able to break that lease because they had violated our CAM clause in our agreement for three years running,” Friedberg said.