Courtesy Happy Belly Tacos
Following the successful transition just before the new year at 7702 Barnes Road from The Collective to Happy Belly Tacos - East
, co-owners Mark Henry (also of Rooster’s House of Ramen
) and Sean Fitzgerald (also of The Wobbly Olive
and Allusion Speakeasy
) have turned the Wobbly Olive Old Colorado City location at 2611 W. Colorado Ave. into Happy Belly Tacos - West
Happy Belly Tacos - West hopes to soft open Friday, Feb. 21 — but short of that mark will open on the 22nd says Fitzgerald.
In turn, the former and original Happy Belly location at 125 N. Spruce St. has become a commissary kitchen they’re tentatively referring to as The Kitchen. Company Chef de Cuisine Chad Henry (Mark’s younger brother) will oversee prep and consistency out of that kitchen to supply both Happy Belly locations, while Fitzgerald says the space (liquor license to come) will also allow for pop-ups and incubation space for other chefs to try out concepts before leveraging themselves to brick-and-mortar space.
Fitzgerald says the original Wobbly Olive location at 3317 Cinema Point will refocus on its creative roots (undistracted by a second location) under executive chef Justin Edgar, and that the reason he’s decided to turn the west location into Happy Belly is because underperformance during non-tourist seasons, making for fluctuating staffing levels and not exactly a thriving business situation.
By contrast, since its opening, Fitzgerald says Happy Belly - East has seen five times the traffic as The Collective did, spawning wait times and even running out of food during unexpected rushes as they settle into the new flow. Under the new merger of sorts, Fitzgerald oversees front of the house and drink programs, while Henry puts his energy strictly on the back of the house and menus, “focusing on our strengths,” says Fitzgerald.