By Kimberli Turner Colorado Hometown Weekly

POSTED:   06/28/2011 06:24:15 PM MD

 

Bittersweet Cafe and Confections has relocated to a stand alone building at 820 Main Street in downtown Louisville, next door to its former spot in the Marketplace. The cafe boasts a 1,800 square-foot patio, with additional outdoor seating along the alleyway and in the back of the property.

Not only has Bittersweet Café and Confections moved, but it has gained ample outdoor seating with its new 1,800 square-foot patio in downtown Louisville. 

Bittersweet reopened June 4, the café's one year anniversary, and now sits at 820 Main Street, right next door to its old location in the Marketplace. Bittersweet owner Patrick Walsh said the former space will be used to roast their coffee under the Flatirons Coffee Roasters label, which distributes to Boulder and the Denver-metro area. 

Bittersweet's new building is now three times larger than its original space in terms of kitchen and indoor seating upstairs, plus it has a basement area for storage. 

Walsh said sales so far have quadrupled since moving into the standalone building and out of its hidden space inside the Marketplace. 

"(The patio) is definitely a blessing," he said. "That street front presence has changed our business completely." 

Walsh's patios are often filled with people enjoying their food and drink in the sun or under one of the many large umbrellas. 

With little white lights strung along the brick-lined alley and seating along the pathway in between the new and former cafes, Walsh said he is trying to create a European-style gathering space connecting Main Street to Front Street and the Steinbaugh Pavilion. Patios also grace the backside of each building on the Front Street side. 

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Walsh is utilizing all the space around his buildings and he hopes to offer live music as well as a permanent screen to show outdoor movies in the summer. 

With the new space, Walsh's employees now sell made-to-order sandwiches and salads instead of selling pre-made and packaged items. The menu also includes paninis, breakfast sandwiches, crepes and tapas in the evening. 

Toward the end of the summer, Walsh is anticipating getting his liquor license and will add beer and wine to the list. 

He said he thinks the patios popping up in downtown Louisville add to the city's dynamics. It definitely draws people into Walsh's coffee shop. 

"It's a great place to hang out and watch the world go by," he said. 

Patios aplenty in downtown

Outdoor seating has grown increasingly popular since the Downtown Business Association set up its seasonal patios in the 800 block of Main Street two years ago. 

The wooden patios and planters come out every year around Memorial Day weekend and last year's patios were expanded two feet to 6-foot by 8-foot patios. 

Those patios could become permanent, Louisville City Manager Malcolm Fleming, said Monday, June 27. The project is part of the city's parking and pedestrian action plan and staff is recommending the project be included in the 2013 capital projects fund with a cost of $220,000, Fleming said. 

"We are planning on doing some significant resurfacing, reconstruction of Main Street and want to coordinate the construction, either widening of the sidewalks or somehow incorporating into the design of that work, a more permanent patio than what the Downtown Business Association has constructed," he said. 

Fleming said the city will closely work with the DBA to determine design issues, timing and patio locations, should City Council approve the permanent patios. 

Planning commissioner Chris Pritchard said he felt turning the seasonal patios into a permanent fixture is a "natural progression" for Louisville. 

"These patios were put out to show the city it was viable for a resurgence in downtown," he said. 

With the surge of new restaurants and downtown Louisville's popularity, many are capitalizing on the patio scene, including Jacques Blanchard, owner of The Louisville Rex. 

Blanchard opened his restaurant in March 2010 as The Alley Cat Bar and Grill at 817 Main Street, but the traffic he saw then is nothing like the volume his revamped restaurant has seen. Blanchard rebranded the space as The Louisville Rex based off of the structure's historic roots in Old Town -- the Rex Theater occupied the building from 1920 to 1978. 

The restaurant has been closed since January for construction until he opened June 14 to what he said was an "overwhelming" response."We've been busy for lunch, we've been busy for dinner and we've been busy for brunch too," he said. "You know what it is? It's overwhelming. We don't have a slow day and it makes it difficult to make adjustments. Everything has been on the fly." 

In the last 14 days, Blanchard's records show that The Rex has seen 6,272 guests. 

Blanchard also added a rooftop patio to the building's second story, a first not only for Louisville, but also for East Boulder County. 

"It's a whole different atmosphere," he said of the rooftop. "Upstairs is so much more quiet; you don't have the street noise, you have the views." 

The rooftop patio can seat about 100 and it has been consistently busy since The Rex opened. Later this week Blanchard will install misters for the deck and once the weather begins to cool, the rooftop will have a fire pit and heaters. 

Zucca's Italian Ristorante boasts a quaint patio and Lucky Pie's canopy went up last week, at 637 Front Street, covering its outdoor seating area that is bathed in the day's sun. 

LuLu's BBQ, 701 Main Street, another eatery to join Main Street, is still under construction but owners Josh Karp and Kevin Herrington, who were originally aiming for a mid-May opening, hope to open the barbecue restaurant by Tuesday, July 5. 

The restaurant will feature a 1,500 square-foot patio that sits just behind the full indoor/outdoor bar and patrons will be able to play Washers or cornhole out back. Karp said he hoped to offer horseshoes, but because there wasn't enough room, he had to nix the idea. 

LuLu's patio is finished except for the addition of a ramp and Karp said he is just finishing up some metal work inside and waiting on tables and chairs -- then his doors will open. 

"(The patio) doubles our seating capacity and provides a nice atmosphere," he said. "They're definitely the place where everyone wants to sit in the summertime."

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