Mediterranean fast-casual chain to open new-look location in Longmont

LONGMONT — A 10-year-old, Centennial-based fast-food chain specializing in Mediterranean cuisine will open its second new-concept eatery — and first in Colorado — on Wednesday in Longmont’s Village at the Peaks development.

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill has rebranded as Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, and will open in a 1,900-square-foot space at 1232 S. Hover St., Unit C100, that had housed The Melt, a San Francisco-based chain that specialized in grilled-cheese sandwiches and soups but abruptly closed all its Colorado locations at the end of July.

“This will be the only one in our new ‘trade dress’ so far in Colorado,” said Devin Handler, Garbanzo’s director of marketing. The first one was opened in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, Mo.

“The brand is 10 years old, but we’ve pretty much improved everything,” he said. “We’ve removed all the preservatives, MSG and added sugar, and made our food as nutritious as it is delicious.”

The look of the new-concept space also has changed from the chain’s existing locations, which include stores in Boulder, Fort Collins and 25 other locations. Seventeen are in Colorado.

“We had a hodge-podge of things on the inside, including some very dated art that a former marketing person put together — like a child holding a tomato, or a giant cucumber,” he said. “Gone are the neon green, the ‘Live Bait’ carryout bags, the ingredient graffiti on the walls. Now you’ll see beautiful, eclectic finishes with a hint to all the areas of the Mediterranean that our food flavors are derived from — not just Greek and Italian. We’ll have a corner that will have a bench with oversized pillows.”

He said the new-look restaurants will have an open kitchen with a vertical rotisserie for preparing gyros.

“It’s true to form with our simple, fresh aesthetic,” Handler said. “We’ll have a stand-alone bakery area and a special oven where our customers will be able to see their pitas kneaded, placed in the oven and fluffed right before their eyes.”

The menu will be upgraded with more plant-based proteins including portobello mushrooms and hummus, he said, “the same great flavors but refined, optimized, improved and even more nutritious than they are delicious.”

“We’re excited to bring our new prototype to Colorado and to introduce our fresh, authentic, Old World recipes to everyone in the Longmont area,” said James Park, Garbanzo’s chief executive and, like Handler, a native St. Louisan. “At Garbanzo, we serve up love in every pita, so our guests can feel brighter on the inside. Our cuisine is the kind of food that you can feed your kids without worries about preservatives, MSG or trans fats, and it caters to virtually every diet from vegan and vegetarian to paleo and meat eaters. We are all thrilled to begin serving our scratch-made dishes to everyone on Wednesday and look forward to becoming an integral part of the community.”

Handler said the Longmont location would employ 25 to 35 people.