The best way to describe the new Prickly Pear restaurant in Lyons is “the opposite.”
Co-owners Jason Reiff and Shirley Oliver have dusted out the cobwebs in the corners of the building and brought in some fresh air. Located at 160 E. Main, the previous restaurant was the Lyons Den. Let me list the changes…
The normal renovations took place, like the staff repainting the walls a mellow tan, and scrapping the floors clean and sealing them. It gives the feeling that you are walking into a welcoming best friend’s home. The art on the walls is modern, but moderate SouthWest. The bar has some tall wood barrels used as tables to hang out around with friends. The old stage is gone, giving way to a larger main dining room. And, the far back, northside of the main dining room, is currently free from tables, with the anticipation of offering activities there. That could be live bands, or sip-and-paint, wedding rehearsals, or art displays. Their neighboring store, with a connected wall, Western Stars Gallery, will leave their doors open to the restaurant during normal business hours.
The second fresh thing observed is the selection of drinks. The line of “beer” taps is still in place on the wall behind the bar, but you won’t find the same line of Colorado brews that other Lyons’ businesses are offering. This means that there will be a few gems from outside Colorado. But wait – there will also be house wine on tap, hard seltzer (to create your own flavors), international beers, and hard Kabocha. And, even some beverages chosen for their bottle’s appearance, such as the little “Mexican Coke” bottles, especially for the kids.
Even the kitchen has been rearranged with some new equipment. It took them two months to clean it to their satisfaction. Randall Odom is the head chef. He has cooking experience from North Carolina restaurants, and has been in Lyons for five years. He was the executive chef at the Stone Cup after popular chef Moudou left, and was highly received due to the quality of his menu items. He is assisted by sous chef Jason Lennard. He was the chef du cuisine at some Lyons restaurants, like The Fork, and Mojo’s Taqueria, so he brings a lot of information on tricks-of-the-trade in running a kitchen.
But let’s stop for a second, and get to item #4, as locals reading this are anxious to hear about this item. Yes, Jason did approach the nearby neighbors and talked to them about their complaints against the previous owner. That owner allegedly let the outside live music play beyond the recommended time limit, and at decibels higher than the designated restrictions by Town Hall. Jason felt that it was a matter of poor communications.
He plans to maintain good communications with neighbors and strictly abide by the Town regulations. The decibels and 10 p.m. limits will be observed. He will notify neighbors if there will be a big event, and has asked them to “come to us fist” if there’s a suspected problem. They plan to rent space to larger groups, in particular the sandstone patio area, and close it off from the restaurant.
The previous owner’s problems with the health department and local government (which were some of the primary reasons for closing down) was mainly to blame for the new owners having their application for a liquor license delayed a few times. They just got it in recent weeks, and they have been scrambling to get their alcoholic beverages stocked. They did a test run last Friday for family and friends, giving the extended staff an opportunity to meet and familiarize themselves with the place. We hear the service people were exceptional.
On the other hand, there are many of you who are biting at the bit to find out what the menu will be like. Again, there is a big difference from all the past owners. Jason likes to call it “contemporary American, with European undercurrents.” Ah, more mellow feelings swirl around the dining room again. He said they wanted to make it approachable, but unique from anything else offered in town.
OK, so first, yes, there will be the popular $12 burgers, and a New York strip steak, and a children’s $7 menu. The kids’ menu was taken from what families found good in the Lyons’ Den kid menu. The kids will also have a personal Wikki stick bendable craft toy to occupy their mind with, while parents enjoy the ambiance and conversation.
But let’s get into the entrees for adults!
On the appetizer menu, right off the top, is “warm brie with caramelized shallots, French baguette, crostini and apricot preserve.” And, yes, they remembered the truffle fries that so many asked for when Jason did a call out to the public as to what they would love to see served. Prices are from $7 to $14.
Next is the small plates menu, prices from $16 to $22. For an example, there is the favorite charcuterie board with its assortment of meats, cheeses, fruits, breads and more.
On the main menu there are stuffed seared chicken, or roasted chicken breast. Or try, ham and Swiss panini with fresh slaw and shoestring fries for $12. (Please note, prices and menu options will be fluctuating as they experiment over the first weeks).
They plan to move into a lunch menu after a few weeks of serving dinner, depending on when they can find enough quality staff. They currently plan to open at 4 p.m. daily. That would include things like paninis, crepes, salad and soup, and burgers. Attention is paid to details, like using whole-grain breads. They plan to maintain their character by offering elevated food and drinks.
How did Jason and Shirley find this calling? You could say that “opposites attract” is the theme here too. The two were a good fit because Jason is a “big picture” kind of guy, and Shirley is “detail oriented.” First, the two of them met over their mutual infatuation with botanicals and CBD. Jason opened up LaCuna seven years ago in Lyons with two other people.
Shirley started at LaCuna in 2018 and loved working with Jason, even though it was at a distance, since she worked from home.
“I was drawn to the product,” said Shirley, “but found it was a natural working relationship between us. I started working in the restaurant this year, directly with him. It was a risk and exciting, since we were coming out of COVID. I had a dream to do something new and risky that I might not have if COVID never happened.”
Jason looks to one day use the restaurant as a “real world testing ground” for LaCuna products. It would be a culinary line that would include finishing oils, like higher-end olive oil. He would develop and expand on the CBD infused gastronomic line, which would include drink mixes.
“I always enjoyed cooking,” said Jason. “Since the age of ten, I cooked together with my dad. And, it fostered my passion for cooking. At age 10, I was working weekends in the pizza parlor, bussing tables and dishwashing. Then came being a line cook at two different restaurants, Asian and Italian.”
Part of Jason’s knack for visualizing the big picture was realized in his earlier career of working in graphics, advertising and photography. He graduated from Ft. Lewis College, Ft. Collins. He worked for PRO Lab, developing film extensively. Then he became a professional photographer and doing photographs for marketing items, or doing weddings, or producing products. Next arrived the photography digital world; but those changes made Jason look at changing his career and go back to his old love of the working in the food world.
Shirley says that people have commented to her that the place has a new positive vibe that they can feel. They also plan to work with the town’s nonprofits, such as the Lyons Chamber, to do events, and possibly with the local school. And, in some cases, to work out a portion of the proceeds to go to the nonprofits. Jason says “It’s not just a bar.”
GRAND OPENING: September 17, Thursday. Doors open at 2 p.m. Live Music: Blue Canyon Boys 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. – 160 E. Main Street, Lyons
HOURS: initial hours
Wednesdays and Thursdays: 4-10 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays: 4 p.m. – midnight
These hours will be adjusted moving forward.
Note, if you search for the restaurant online or on Facebook, the name starts with the word “The”…The Prickly Pear.