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BRIGHTON — There’s a reason “old school” never gets old – traditional is good, very good indeed. Fuhgidabowdit Pizzeria owners Rich …
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BRIGHTON — There’s a reason “old school” never gets old – traditional is good, very good indeed.
Fuhgidabowdit Pizzeria owners Rich and Ann Marie Rodriguez have nailed that philosophy with the opening of their 617 E. Bridge St. pizzeria, and they call the response so far “simply phenomenal.”
The pizzeria is enjoying brisk sales after a little more than six weeks in business – so brisk that Rich pulled out the pizza ovens he originally installed to make way for a larger set and add several more booths to meet customer demand.
“Our Denver store, we had the bigger ovens because we got that kind of business,” Rodriguez said, referencing his successful restaurant serving the University of Denver. “But my wife and I figured, living here, it would be smaller, more of a mom and pop.
“We were totally wrong,” he added.
Part of the reason for Rodriguez’ miscalculation is the dearth of authentic East Coast food west of the Mississippi, a problem they remedied with the opening of their first restaurant and now brought home to Brighton.
“We never thought that we would open a second store,” he said. “We live here in Brighton, and I told my wife, ‘I want you to have your own place, being that we live here.’ We decided to take the shot and take a chance.”
Their Denver location is popular with the college crowd and a distinctly more upscale clientele, each of whom frequent the university grounds to pick up a pie or two.
“Basically, it’s attached to the University of Denver,” Rich said. “That store, I cater to the Colorado Rockies, the home and away teams. It’s a humbling experience, to have the baseball teams order from us. We have several Avalanche players come in, especially Paul Stastny, because he is our D.U. alum. So he is always in there. Tom Jackson and John Elway, they come in, not as regularly, and get pizzas from us, which is fun.”
A New York City native, Rich began his career in law enforcement as a city cop before moving to Florida.
“Just like every other New Yorker,” he laughed.
In the Sunshine State, he continued as a policeman until a chance encounter on a cross-country flight with his soon-to-be wife. Ann Marie was born and raised in California but her family roots were in Colorado.
“The next thing you know, we get married and I’m in Colorado,” Rich said. “It’s a very different change of pace for me, and I love it. I lived in the concrete jungle my entire life, and to get away from that is amazing.”
Carrying on the community enrichment philosophy he started in his Denver operation, the pizzeria purchases all of its fresh items from local suppliers, right down to the toppings.
“Even our sausage is bought from a local mom and pop,” Rich said. “Basically, we try and support our neighbors. I don’t have anything against big corporations, but it’s not how we do it. If a customer comes in, I have no problem with them going in my kitchen to see that what we say is true. They can see us making the sauce, or making our dough. Every detail, down to the smallest.”
To prove his point, Rich walks into the kitchen and points to Ann Marie, who is placing a large pan of peppers into an even larger oven.
“She is making our green peppers,” Rodriguez said. “Our onions and green peppers, we sauté them. We don’t just throw them on. It makes a difference.”
Another difference is the use of conventional pizza ovens versus the conveyor style, a concession that Rich made to ensure the quality of his pies, along with a fervor for freshness.
“Nothing is premade, so when someone comes in and asks for something, it is made fresh,” he said. “I will never change that. Sometimes there is a wait, but people have been very understanding because we tell them we are making everything fresh.”
The Rodriguez’ choice of Brighton as a hometown received reinforcement again just two weeks ago when an employee’s car suffered a breakdown and Rich went to help. During the few minutes he was alongside the road, not one but three motorists stopped to help, a far cry from his urban experience.
“That is something that has never happened in my entire life,” Rodriguez said. “As cliché as it may sound, I went home to my wife and told her, ‘I love this town. We picked the right town to live in.”
617 E. Bridge St.
Brighton, CO, 80601
Dine in, take-out, delivery
11 a.m. to 9 p.m.,
Sunday through Thursday
11 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
Friday and Saturday
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