Smiling Moose restaurant plans upgrades at its Edwards location | VailDaily.com

Smiling Moose restaurant plans upgrades at its Edwards location

EDWARDS, Colorado – When Kevin Sloane started the Smiling Moose restaurants in Edwards eight years ago, he was on the front end of a trend. Today, he believes he’s leading the evolution of the “fast casual” restaurant.

After the success of some new ideas at a Smiling Moose in downtown Denver, Sloane and his partners are going to put those ideas to work at the original location.

Starting sometime in June, the restaurant will close for a week or so for a thorough renovation. That’s going to include a new station where customers can get made-to-order chopped salads. The plans also include space for speciality coffee drinks and breakfast items. The restaurant also will expand into the space downstairs, which is better to handle its catering business.

The downside of the expansion plans is the planned closure of the Eagle restaurant. Sloane said the Eagle store has done well enough, but the lease is about to expire at that location and there simply isn’t enough room to upgrade that restaurant.

“The Edwards location is the foundation of the company, but it’s going on eight years old,” Sloane said.

And, he added, the success of the Denver location is going to provide a template for future Smiling Moose locations.

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“Our salads are now 40 percent of sales – they used to be 8 percent,” Sloane said. The salad station also is helping bring more women into the restaurants. Using real plates, stainless-steel utensils and putting down carpet around the upholstered booths helps, too.

But the improvements haven’t come with price increases, Sloane said.

“We’re able to buy in enough volume that we’ve actually lowered some prices,” he said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.