For many, gooey cheeses atop tender macaroni bring back memories of childhood and the comforts of home.
Macaroni and cheese has become an American staple for children, but Alex Kantor and his business partner, Chris Williams, hope to put an adult twist on it at a new concept in Greeley: Gourmet mac and cheese.
The budding restaurateurs have a glimmer of home in their eyes as they survey the 3,000 square feet they’ve leased in west Greeley to offer up their gourmet morsels in their new restaurant, Cavatappi (Italian for corkscrew, the shape of the pasta for their dishes).
The pair hopes to capture that feeling of home and offer the comfort food outside of the box — 14 different flavors, in fact, for the Greeley eating public.
Signs are already up in the former Reds Dogs and Donuts eatery at 5750 10th St. But they won’t open until October.
Kantor 30, owns Specht Point Café in Fort Collins with his wife, after spending the majority of his working life in the industry, including Yellowstone Parks and Resorts. He lives in Windsor. Williams, 25, is a full-time college student with a double major at Colorado State University and lives in Fort Collins.
They met in 2008 while working together at Macaroni Grill in Fort Collins.
Kantor came up with the concept for gourmet mac and cheese a couple of years ago, noticing college students routinely opted for such dishes at other chain restaurants. The mere thought invoked those old childhood memories, and he came up with the plan.
“I did some research, and found there were maybe like six to seven restaurants in the country that do that. And they’re very successful,” Kantor said.
Kantor and his wife Laura opened Specht Point Café off of Timberline and Prospect four years ago. He wanted to expand, but he also knew that Fort Collins was saturated with restaurants.
“I owned a coffee shop, and I wanted to do something different,” Kantor said. “But I was tired of the same old pizza and wings. It’s boring.”
Greeley, he found, had more reasonable lease rates, and he figured it might be a nice place to start a new concept.
The pair are developing their menu now and working with chefs to perfect their recipes. In addition to the many flavors of mac and cheese — which may include traditional styles, plus choices of Mexican, Mediterranean and vegetarian, and a build-your-own option — the restaurant will serve salads and appetizers, and wines and beers.
Not unlike a pizza restaurant with its varieties, Kantor and Williams feel their many different mac and cheese options will keep people interested.
“People don’t get tired of eating pizza,” Williams said. “A lot of restaurants in a lot of cities are lumped into categories. People choose and cycle through them. We’re not interested in being the only restaurant people go to.”
One option they feel may set them apart is offering a gluten-free menu. All of their mac and cheese dishes will come with a low-fat or gluten-free option.
Being in the restaurant industry for as long as they have, they know people on restricted diets have very few choices at restaurants. They will keep all gluten-free offerings completely separate from other dishes, as well.
They also have a pasta with 40 percent fewer carbs and 200 percent more protein than traditional pastas.
They’re bringing in their pastas — all fresh, not dried — from a company in Denver.
They plan to manage the business themselves with a small wait staff and kitchen.