COLORADO SPRINGS — A popular pizza restaurant in Colorado Springs is reopening its doors ahead of the 4th of July weekend.
Fargo's Pizza Company off of E. Platte Ave is on the rebound after closing its doors back in December when the second indoor dining shutdown happened. Since then, restaurant staff has been making a few minor changes and upgrades, and on Friday evening, they're expecting the dining room will be packed with customers once again.
For many employees, customers and residents of Colorado Springs, the restaurant was a place to go as a kid for pizza and arcade games.
"We always came here for a party, ordered a bunch of pizzas, ordered a bunch of drinks, and have a good time," said Matthew Neill, a manager at the restaurant who's been working there for seven years.
Neill recalls going to the restaurant as a kid around 12 years old, before getting a job there after high school.
"I think there's a lot of history of the people here. You have people who've been coming here since this place has opened, and then almost 50 years later, you still have people coming here, and they're the same people," said Neill. "If you're from Colorado Springs, you know this place."
The restaurant opened in 1973, but when the second indoor dining shutdown happened in late 2020, the owners temporarily closed the restaurant's doors and took time to improve the building.
"Staff have been refurbishing the floor, painting of the handrails, and dusting off the historic artifacts. Those are all big jobs, believe it or not, because there's so much of that in the restaurant," said Al Martinez, the new general manager for the restaurant.
When the restaurant closed, he said the owners "always had it in the back of their head that they were coming back, and when I had a chance to meet with the owners, we put it in motion."
For Martinez, his first time at the restaurant was when he was eight years old. He says despite all the years that have come and gone including the pandemic, the restaurant remains a staple in the Colorado Springs community.
"I remember coming as a kid and hearing the player piano, and then going to the game room. There was always something to do as a kid," said Martinez. "This is Fargo's, it's always going to be Fargo's, but we have come into 2021. It's a landmark, a staple in the community, and just the building alone is iconic."
Capacity is nearly 550 people at the two-story restaurant. Martinez says they're expecting 1,500 customers on Friday evening after the restaurant opens at 5 p.m. However they're keeping customers safety in mind, and said the restaurant will be opening at around 85% capacity.
Martinez also mentioned 90% of former employees returned to work for the restaurant.