Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Popular Garden Gate Cafe opens Longmont location


December 13, 2018

Steve Gaibler, owner of the bustling Niwot breakfast and lunch spot, Garden Gate Cafe, converted his Italian restaurant in Longmont into a second Garden Gate Cafe location. Talk about a quick change over -- Gaibler closed Ragazzi Italian Grill the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 21, and on Nov. 27, he presented patrons with a duplicate of his tried and true concept.

Surreptitiously, while the establishment was still serving pasta and red wine, Gaibler began to make a few aesthetic changes. He put up reclaimed wood on the lower three feet of the walls, repainted the ceiling and walls. Then, in the six days the establishment was closed, the final decorative touches were added, including antiques and other themed décor, truly turning it into the sister of the original Garden Gate Cafe.

Even the number of seats in both locations is similar, with inside seating just under 100 and another 30 chairs on the patio of each establishment.

Aside from the addition of adult beverages such as Bloody Marys, a breakfast Mule, and Mimosas, the menu at the new location is the same as the original restaurant.

Ragazzi servers cross-trained at the Niwot location before the transition, and kitchen staff, primarily one family that has worked for Gaibler at both restaurants for many years, will remain on the crew.

Given all of the well planned preparation, the sequel restaurant essentially had a running start and was able to open only one day beyond the forecasted date. Gaibler was thrilled and said it was pretty miraculous, given that most restaurants never open on time.

“We’ve done a real good job with making a duplicate,” Gaibler said. “Everyone working here really knows what they’re doing. It’s sort of like a direct infusion of DNA from one restaurant to the other.”

Gaibler said he’d been thinking about the conversion for a long time. The actual process of making the needed changes began in October so it would be completed before the holidays and traditionally slower months early in the year would not see a huge dip in sales.

“I just decided to consolidate the concept,” Gaibler said. “Part of the reason was that I was managing both restaurants - one in the morning and one at night. So my days were stretching from six in the morning until nine at night. “

When asked if there was any public reaction about the changeover, Gaibler said what he’s heard has been mixed. Customers have told him they will truly miss Ragazzi’s spaghetti, and others have told him they’re excited about Garden Gate opening because the neighborhood needed a restaurant that served breakfast fare.

Gaibler said between the homey ambiance, the great food and generous portions, and the efficient, friendly staff, they are doing their best to be a big hit in Longmont.

“If this past weekend was any indication, we are going to be very popular,” Gaibler said when asked about the reception of the newly opened eatery. “We haven’t done any advertising yet and we’re almost to the level of business that Niwot is.”

Hours for both Garden Gate Cafe locations are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The new Garden Gate Cafe is located at 1135 Francis Street.


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