The next NaRai
NaRai Thai Restaurant (narai-thai.com), in business at 805 Village Center Drive since 2008, has just opened a sister outfit, NaRai Siam Cuisine (120 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 434-1975) in the spot formerly occupied by Chopsticks.
Owner Jasmine Andrew says she had been looking for another space into which to expand, partly because her original location's kitchen is simply too small to allow for menu additions, and its dining room too tiny to really grow the business as a whole.
The new location — to which she gifted a gorgeous, modern, Eastern-influenced overhaul — will allow for exactly that type of growth. Along with the addition of a bar (license pending), Andrew cites new salads and appetizers, as well as entrées like short ribs: She's taken the classic Korean preparation and added a Thai twist, with lemongrass joining the marinade.
As we noted not too long ago in our Reverb column, the formerly pirate-themed Castaways at 107 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, became The Lower Deck and The Red Room (thelowerdecksredroom.com) at the turn of the new year.
The Red Room accounts for a separate music venue/private party space divided from the main bar area. That bar area, The Lower Deck, features full, typical offerings that include a growing bottled beer line, but just one on tap: Rolling Rock. Co-owner and Detroit native Damien Kadamus — who developed a local following in part from eight years at the Austin Bluffs Old Chicago location and five at Oscar's — says the lounge also dishes "basic bar food, nothing fancy," such as wings, sandwiches and tacos.
The key to the overhaul, he says, is the swank atmosphere: "You've gotta come see this place."
In early December, we told you about Coquette's Bistro & Bakery's (915 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, coquettesbistro.com) plan to take over the former Flavors on Tejon/Curry Leaf spot at 321 N. Tejon St.
The initial goal was to be operating by Valentine's Day, but co-owner Michelle Marx now says the aim is mid-March. Part of the delay relates to adding more to the new vision, such as a frozen-foods line to bolster the retail bakery. You might recall that Coquette is also launching a full bar and expanded gluten-free menu with the move.
As for its earlier promise to "keep a smaller presence in Manitou," Marx says that though the café shut down last Sunday, she will open "cupcake huts" next door at 919 Manitou Ave., around May, tentatively. She'll likely shuttle other Coquette goods to historic Colorado Springs TB huts as well, and may operate them seasonally.