McKinners Pizza Bar, one of Littleton's favorite downtown eateries, will open a second location this winter, which owner Keven Kinaschuk hopes will help the company stay afloat during a dour time for …
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McKinners Pizza Bar, one of Littleton's favorite downtown eateries, will open a second location this winter, which owner Keven Kinaschuk hopes will help the company stay afloat during a dour time for the restaurant industry.
McKinners, a Main Street mainstay, will open a takeout and delivery-only location at 1468 S. Cherokee St. in Denver this winter, with a delivery area encompassing much of south Denver and Englewood.
Unlike the Littleton location, which has been known in recent years for its live music and prominent presence on the main drag, the Denver location will have no indoor seating. The building is tucked into an industrial district beside railroad tracks, surrounded by warehouses.
But it's within an easy drive of numerous chic neighborhoods, which Kinaschuk hopes will get hooked on the pies that recently made Zagat's list of under-the-radar pizzerias in the Denver area.
“In-house dining was already declining before the pandemic,” Kinaschuk said. “Grubhub and Doordash have been climbing for a while, but now it's exploded, of course.”
The new location is a “virtual kitchen” or “ghost” set up by a company called Chef Ready, that does the hard work of scoping out and buying locations, then rents commercial kitchens to established restaurateurs.
Still, that doesn't mean Kinaschuk is taking his mind off the Littleton location. He is in the final stages of building a new patio dining area, complete with newly poured concrete, fencing and lighting, with a retractable awning yet to come. The patio project was funded through local small business grants.
Times are very tough for the restaurant, Kinaschuk said: He's down to seven employees from 23 before the pandemic, and decided to let his lease run out on his dining room, leaving just a few tables indoors.
“It's been awful,” he said. “I'm wondering how I'm going to make it. If it gets really cold for months, it'll be devastating. I'm already counting the months until April. At least climate change means it's staying warmer longer.”
McKinners and other downtown restaurants got a big boost from Weekends on Main, a program that hosted al fresco dining on Main Street until Halloween, Kinaschuk said.
“It was the best thing that ever happened,” he said. “I'd love to see those nights every year.”
Between the new patio and the new location, Kinaschuk said he's in it for the long haul.
“I'm not used to this, but it feels like lately all I do is beg for forgiveness,” he said. “From the landlord, the credit card company, you name it. But unless something drastic happens, I'll be here. I have no choice but to make it.”
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