Old Chicago goes for new look, focus

BOULDER – Old Chicago’s original restaurant location, at 1102 Pearl St. in Boulder, is getting an overnight makeover of sorts that is scheduled to be complete by Thursday.

The renovations are part of a rebranding effort by the 37-year-old restaurant chain that has been ongoing for about a year and includes changing the name from Old Chicago Pasta and Pizza to Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom.

Broomfield-based Craftworks Restaurant and Breweries Inc. owns Old Chicago, which boasts 94 locations nationwide. Will Powers, senior director of marketing for Old Chicago, said that in all about $8 million to $10 million is being spent on the changes to the 58 corporate locations alone, which include the Boulder, Superior, Longmont and Broomfield restaurants.

All four local locations have remained open while undergoing renovations. Powers said renovation crews do their work at night and can have an individual location completely revamped in about four days.

Powers said the goal was to “refresh the brand in a positive way.”

“I think what we recognized was that if you’re not evolving and changing you’re not going to make it,” Powers said.

First and foremost is a revamped menu, which is about three-fourths implemented already in the Boulder County locations. Outside of the pizza portion of the menu, almost everything changed, with new salads, paninis and appetizers among the higher-end product offering.

Old Chicago also went for an update in décor, both inside and outside, completely overhauling the interior and adding more craft beers on tap. Bartenders underwent an “intense” craft beer training to tap into the thirst for the growing segment of libation.

The hope is to bring in a new customer base with the new high-end casual feel while still holding onto the base that has made the chain so successful for nearly four decades.

“We never wanted to interrupt or alienate our current guests,” Powers said. “We’re really trying to lay on another customer base on top of that.”

Powers said promotional activities will start ramping up in the Boulder and Denver-area locations next week as all of the changes are wrapped up.

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