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Side dish: Hell's Kitchen to add a heaven

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Hell adds a heaven

Nelson Rufran, the man behind Ruffrano's Hell's Kitchen Pizza in Manitou Springs, is set to expand his holdings as early as month's end with Ruffrano's Heavenly Squeeze (10 Ruxton Ave., 685-4388). Located directly across the street from his eternal-damnation-themed New York-style pie joint, the new juice bar "will be like walking into heaven," he says.

The potential for wordplay in his slogans is too good to pass up, but not yet solidified. "I'm thinking something like, 'You don't have to choose between heaven and hell, you can have both,'" he jokes, clearly struggling for some clever cross-promotion.

Heavenly Squeeze tentatively plans to sell fresh-squeezed juice and smoothies, plus coffees, teas and gluten-free pastries, with some organic options. But Rufran's more excited to talk about the design elements.

"The doors will be trimmed in gold — it'll be like you're walking through heaven's gates ... there's flames in Hell's Kitchen, and over here we'll have everything painted blue with clouds ... it'll be amazing scenery."

Burn one down

And in other Manitou Springs makeover news, there's this cryptic post on the Facebook page of year-old Naturally's Market & Cafe (110 Cañon Ave., naturallys.net): "The Phoenix soon will rise straight up from the mountains in Manitou where it could have died, but did not ~ reborn again and again and now with a new image it has earned through struggle and the power that comes from this journey ..."

For those now quietly thinking to themselves, "What in the mumbly mystical Manitou f*ck are they talking about?" I offer this translation after speaking with owner Ronda Burke's husband Terry.

Turns out the eatery is ditching its market element and essentially rebranding the cafe around expanded seating and new menu additions — killing the old model to make way for the new. Hence the mythical bird symbol and new name, the Phoenix.

"When we were in Texas [South Padre Island, where the store originated] and didn't have Whole Foods or Mountain Mama's to compete with, our market was 60 percent of our business," says Terry. "Here it dropped to about 10 percent ... we feel that people want to dine at a restaurant, not in a market."

Terry assures that the Phoenix will still stick to Naturally's organic, clean-food mindset through the changeover, tentatively expected to be completed by June 1. He says to expect more dinner items and expanded hours. Also, the business has applied for a liquor license, in hopes of adding wine and local craft beers.

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