Stoney Jesseph will soon be toasting “Salud” on South Broadway.
The Denver pub owner, who started Stoney’s Bar and Grill on Lincoln Avenue in 2010 and added an outpost in Uptown in 2018, has leased the former Gozo space at 30 S. Broadway St. and plans to open Stoney’s Cantina.
The owners of Gozo planned to rebrand the space as a Lime and started the renovations, but didn’t reopen.
“This is the worst possible time to open a restaurant and it doesn’t make sense to most people,” Jesseph said. “But the reason it worked for us is the space was already remodeled and it doesn’t need a ton of capital to develop.”
The 45-year-old said his vision for this location will be a departure from his sports pubs, known for TVs blaring with every sport possible. He said he’ll invest up to $100,000 to get the space ready with a rustic theme with lots of wood décor.
“It’ll be a great place to watch a game, but not as rah rah rah as the other two,” he said.
As for the food: “A blend of Mexican street food with TexMex and Southwestern style.”
This will be Stoney’s smallest pub at 4,000 square feet. The one on Lincoln is 18,000 square feet, and he leases 5,000 square feet uptown.
Pat Henry, the landlord of the space, said he and Jesseph have a lease that lets the pub pay part of its rent as a portion of sales until COVID restrictions are removed and the business can run in a pre-pandemic manner.
“We’re trying to do what we can (as landlords) to get operating expenses paid and cover the mortgage,” Henry said. “I don’t know if many landlords are making any money. But we’re trying to stop the bleeding.”’
Henry said he was willing to improvise on the lease because of Stoney’s reputation.
“These guys are really strong operators and got their act together,” he said. “They are large enough, they can weather these difficult times.”
Jesseph said he thinks the South Broadway location will be a draw to different consumers than his other spots.
“What we learned in Uptown (which opened in 2018) was that it did not cannibalize our other business,” he said. “It’s a very different crowd.”
“A lot of people like sports, even if it’s just on in the background.”
Jesseph said he expects more walk-in traffic on South Broadway than his other spots.
As for the challenge that COVID brought, Jesseph said it was the first time the business didn’t grow revenue year-over-year. But there were some lessons learned.
“We can make money on a lot less people, and I don’t think we will ever pack people in like we used to,” he said. “The service wasn’t as good. We learned how to provide really good service to a lot less people.”