Local Italian chain closes original downtown location after 16 years

Mici Handcrafted Italian’s Caparola pizza. (Photos courtesy of Mici)

Mici Handcrafted Italian has lost a slice of history.

After 16 years, the Denver-based chain of Italian restaurants permanently closed its first location at 1531 Stout St. in downtown Denver on Sept. 20. CEO Elliot Schiffer said low traffic and sales as a result of the pandemic prompted the company’s decision.

“The number of people going downtown for work is down drastically, and we just weren’t able to make up the volume of losing 75 percent plus of our daytime business, as well as catering,” Schiffer said.

Mici’s Parker location is one of five that will remain open.

Mici, which is known for its pizza and pasta, has five remaining locations in Parker, Highlands Ranch, Lafayette and Denver’s Central Park (formerly Stapleton) and Hale neighborhoods.

All six locations stayed open for takeout and delivery throughout the pandemic. Mici’s suburb locations stayed on track and even increased sales, but the downtown restaurant saw sales drop 50 percent, Schiffer said.

Mici’s takeout business model was always built better for the suburbs, he added. The CEO said business at the downtown location had slowed down ever since a new building went in where their delivery drivers used to park.

Mici CEO Elliot Schiffer

“The reality is a big chunk of our business is takeout and delivery, and this location was no longer representative of our brand in terms of super easy access,” Schiffer said.

The Italian chain was founded in 2004 by Miceli siblings Jeff, Michael and Kim, who used family recipes passed down through generations to create the menu. Schiffer joined the company as CEO in 2017.

Despite closing one location, Mici expects to grow its footprint. Schiffer said his team is looking to add three more corporate-owned locations next year, and is considering sites in Colorado Springs and Boulder. Mici also recently launched a franchise program, and hopes to open three franchise locations around the country in 2021.

“When the pandemic hit, there was a pause in franchising activity. But people are slowly starting to get interested again,” Schiffer said. “Many restaurants are getting hit hard by the pandemic, but it does create an opportunity for resilient brands to get their hands on some real estate.”

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