With its large front windows, bright red sign, and prominent patio area, it's hard to miss Pinocchios Restaurant as you drive down 2nd Avenue. But behind the exterior there has been a great deal of change. As of Jan. 18, the restaurant has new owners, Kelsey and Joe Deboard.
Kelsey Deboard isn't new to Pinocchios, in fact, she's been part of it for a while. "I started as a server looking for extra income, but when I came on board I enjoyed everything I did. From the social aspect of it to prepping and serving, I loved it all."
Now that the Deboards have taken over operations, Kelsey will be running the front of the house while Joe cooks. For them, running the business will be a family affair. Her mom is providing support watching her kids while she works, and her dad is often on the premises, doing what he can to help out.
Deboard said even her older child, a nine-year-old is getting into the action when she's onsite. "She likes to seat customers and clear tables. She's working up to when she can be a server."
In their first months of ownership, the Deboards just want the larger community to be aware that they’re open. Currently, the restaurant serves customers Wednesday thru Friday from 4 pm until about 8 pm. They’re also open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 1 p.m. for brunch. Takeout, including to-go alcoholic drinks, is available during regular restaurant hours and there’s a happy hour every day from 4 pm to 6 pm.
The Deboards also are presenting Pinocchios menu that's familiar to regular customers. It spans a range of options including the expected spaghetti and meatballs as well as more extravagant dishes. Brunch pairs pancakes, benedicts, and creative omelets with bottomless mimosas and bloody marys.
Not only is Deboard pleased to be assuming an ownership role, but she's also excited about being in Niwot. "I see our future as being a piece of the community, not just an area restaurant. I love that everyone has come together to help each other during the pandemic, and how the Niwot Business Association looks out for us."
Deboard continued, " That level of support is exactly what my family loves about this area. It makes us feel that this isn't just a great place to be in the restaurant business, it's a great place for our family."
Though they're approaching this venture with optimism, the takeover is coming at a tough time for small businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry.
Pandemic-related restrictions on operating hours and seating capacity have added to challenges. In addition, the timing of the Deboard's ownership made them ineligible for financial support, such as PPP loans. Many loans are only available to owners in businesses that were owned for a given amount of time prior to Covid-19 impacts.
This past year, the family also faced the stress of having one of their own members contract Covid-19. Kelsey's father was diagnosed in late 2020 and has since recovered, but the challenge of his illness wasn't easy to contend with.
Throughout all of this, the Deboards have been grateful for the support they've received. "We already have such a great, loyal customer base of regulars. Some people were even popping in to check on my dad. That's what Joe and I love the most about the restaurant business, the people."
Perhaps, because of this support, Kelsey feels ready to continue. "It's been scary and stressful, but we've learned a lot about ourselves and what we're capable of making it through. Now we just have to have faith in Niwot, which we do."
Editor's note: an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Pinocchios is open seven days per week. Currently, Pinocchios is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.