After 15 years on the same corner, Tony Pasquini is moving his pizzeria into a smaller space more suited for takeout.
The owner of Tony P’s Bar & Pizzeria at 2400 W. 32nd Ave. in LoHi plans to move the restaurant two blocks south to the Coffee for People space at 3000 Zuni St. this summer.
Coffee for People, which opened in 2019, will close in February.
“That building and lease is a big footprint,” Pasquini said of his current spot. “The pandemic gave us a working trial of what it would be like for a smaller location, and it worked out pretty well.”
Pasquini said most restaurants had to pivot, but he didn’t have to pivot at all.
“We were already offering pick up, delivery and online ordering,” he said. “Ten years ago, it was 25 percent of our business, and even before the pandemic, it was half of our business.”
Pasquini, 55, plans to keep Tony P’s current location open until he reopens in the new 1,800-square-foot space on Zuni Street.
“We want to be set up for the new economy,” he said. “I needed something more intimate and manageable, so we can concentrate on our strengths.”
He is looking to sublease his 2,300-square-foot pizzeria and the adjacent 1,500-square-foot bar called Zio Romolo’s Alley Bar, both of which he opened in 2007. He said subdividable options are available. He has five years left on the lease. The building last sold in 2018 to Denver-based Endurance Real Estate Partners for $3.3 million, according to property records.
“It’s such a good corner, and I’m sure anyone with their head screwed on right could do well here,” Pasquini said.
Pasquini said he has always loved the Highlands, and he wanted to stick around for his loyal customers.
“I’m from Colorado, I went to school in Boulder, and ever since I graduated from college in 1987, I’ve always wanted to put a restaurant in that area,” he said.
Although Tony P’s new location is smaller, Pasquini said the kitchen is bigger and will allow him to add a wood-burning oven for more Neapolitan-style pizza and a bread oven for pastries and Italian bread
Tony P’s new space will still have a bar but will decrease the dine-in space to four tables inside, plus a patio in the back.
“I’m not very nostalgic,” Pasquini said. “I like creating new things and looking to the future with new recipes or better ways to do things.”
Pasquini said he plans to open for coffee in the morning. He went to pastry school in San Francisco nearly 30 years ago and is looking forward to getting back to his roots with pastries and breakfast options, such as gluten-free quiches and frittatas.
“We want to take advantage of the history of that location,” Pasquini said. “It’s basically going to be a Tony P’s on top of a coffee shop and bakery.”
Pasquini previously owned a Tony P’s in Cherry Creek at 240 Milwaukee St., which he closed in 2013, and another in Uptown at 777 E. 17th Ave., which he closed in 2018.
Pasquini and his mother Judy first opened a pizza joint called Pasquini’s in 1986 at 1310 S. Broadway in Platt Park.
But when his sister, Melinda, bought the original Pasquini’s in 2004, she wasn’t willing to let go of the name. Tony and Melinda Pasquini feuded in a legal battle from 2010 through 2013 over use of the family surname.
The siblings agreed to a settlement in 2013 in which he agreed to pay her $300,000, give up the trademark on the “Pasquini’s” brand name and change the name of his restaurant to Tony P’s by early 2014. And Melinda was prohibited from having contact with Tony and their mother, Judy.
“Have you ever seen the movie, ‘The Godfather?’” Tony asked. “If you go against the family, you’re not a part of the family.”
Tony also sued Melinda, who is an attorney, and her law firm, Faegre Baker Daniels, in 2012, accusing them of legal malpractice and conflict of interest in their representation of Tony when he was attempting to franchise his business. The case was later settled and dismissed, Tony said.
Melinda closed Pasquini’s original location on South Broadway in 2020. The older portion of the building had a damaging fire in 2016, and Pasquini’s began operating out of the newer side of the building. But in 2020, Pasquini’s moved out and leased that newer space to an Indian and Nepali restaurant called Tikka Grill.
“Technically, because that restaurant went out of business, I get the name back. But it’s not worth pursuing at this point,” Tony said. “I’ve spent the last 10 years building up Tony P’s.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to note that Tony Pasquini’s lawsuit against his sister and his law firm was settled, according to Pasquini.