Glenwood Springs couple reopens restaurant after fire three years ago
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Life can change in a moment.
Just ask Becky and Corey Spagnolo.
As quickly as fire destroyed their restaurant in the Grand Avenue Mall on March 19, 2006, the couple found themselves the new owners of another restaurant location they can call their own.
One lucky moment changed their life. Even though it took them almost three years to get there.
“It’s very unexpected,” Becky said.
The Spagnolos owned Spagnolo’s Restaurant for nine years in downtown Glenwood Springs before it burned.
They spent more than a year looking to relocate their restaurant, with no luck.
“We spent a year waiting and then we finally looked around to see if we could move it and there was no place that was restaurant ready,” Becky said.
But all that changed, when a friend and co-owner of Russo’s Pizza, John Cannella, walked into the Corner Gourmet coffee store at 11th and Grand. The Spagnolos own the coffee store, and Cannella made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Cannella offered to sell them the Russo’s Pizza location in the Van Rand Center in December 2008. They didn’t hesitate.
“It just shifted from one extreme to another in one minute,” Becky said.
Now, just a few months later, the name Spagnolos is back in the restaurant business and they couldn’t be happier.
“I’m excited,” Corey said. “We’re doing it again. This is what we do.”
Russo’s Pizza still has a location at Glenwood Meadows.
It was March 19, 2006. It was late Sunday morning when she picked up the phone. It was a neighboring store owner and the news wasn’t good.
“He said, ‘You might want to get down here, the building is on fire’,” Becky recalled.
Upon arrival, she remembers seeing a huge teddy bear, soaking wet, sitting slumped in front of the building as thick smoke billowed from every possible escape.
“It was pretty awful,” she said. “I just kept looking at everything and saying, oh my god.”
After the smoke cleared, she was able to go into the restaurant and recover some pictures and personal things. It didn’t look as though the restaurant had sustained much damage. But there was a lot of water and smoke damage in the dining room.
The fire originated from a short in a copy machine on the second floor. The owner of the building, Gus Lundin received an insurance settlement in October 2008, more than two years after the fire. All of the other businesses had already moved on to new locations, or closed all together.
The Spagnolos were one of the businesses that closed.
Becky struggles to find the words to describe what it was like losing the business. “It just stopped everything in its tracks. It was kind of a bummer for a while.”
As she remembers what was left behind, Becky thinks about the restaurant oven. “I’d still like to have my old electric oven from there.”
The wait to reopen the restaurant was long.
So long in fact, the Spagnolos gave up altogether and moved on. With no progress at their old location, while the building owners were waiting on the insurance claim to be settled, the Spagnolos opened a new business, the Corner Gourmet in December 2007.
The Grand Avenue Mall is still a reminder of that devastating fire. It’s now up for sale and remains vacant due to the fire damage.
At the time they had accepted that their restaurant wasn’t coming back.
“We just waited, and waited, and waited,” Becky said. “Then we realized that it wasn’t going to happen.”
Months turned into years.
After they opened the coffee and gift store, Becky told the Post Independent in the fall of 2008 that they had moved on with life, and in business. She said that they were no longer looking to reopen the restaurant. However, she said it wasn’t a definite, “no.”
“Never say never, right?” Becky said then. “It’s been too long. It’s been two years.”
But things change and now that they have their restaurant up and running again.
Life can change in a moment.
Now that pizza is on their menu, the Spagnolos have put the Corner Gourmet up for sale.
The business was doing well, but Becky admits that it’s just too much work to try and run them both.
She is happier in the restaurant.
“Much happier,” she said. “I’m in my element. So much happier.”
Sitting at a table in her new restaurant, on a Wednesday afternoon, Becky smiled.
“I am thrilled,” she said. “(Corey) is too, he’s just too tired to show it.”
They have been working nonstop trying to get their restaurant just the way they want it. Becky said that the transition has been pretty smooth, but they still have some work to do before it will be Spagnolos’ again.
“We’re trying to make it more into a dining room for nighttime dining,” she said. “We’ve still got a few little things to do to make it more cozy on the restaurant side of it, but we are getting there.”
They took over the restaurant during spring break because they wanted to be opened when students returned to school. Currently they serve mostly pizza, but have added a few pasta dishes. Some of the favorites they had at the old establishment.
One dish at a time they will eventually get back to a full menu of Italian dishes.
In the short time they’ve taken over, Becky said that the community support has been wonderful.
“I can’t tell you how many people have come in just to say, ‘Welcome back. We are so happy you are here’,” Becky said.
In all honesty, Becky and Corey are happy to be back, too. It’s where they belong.
“This is what we do and we’re happy to be doing it again,” Becky said. “It’s been awesome.”
Life can change in one brief moment.
Contact John Gardner: 384-9114
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will continue to be closed due to “extreme damage” from the latest round of heavy rain and flooding Saturday night, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced Sunday afternoon.