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Business Briefs

New restaurant in Calhan

The legend of one of America’s favorite cowboys, John Wayne, lives on at the new Roosters Grille and Pizzaria in Calhan, Colo. Owners Deanna Cooper and Ed Stefanish named their venture after one of Wayne’s old westerns, “Rooster Cogburn.”Instead of a John Wayne cardboard cutout, however, the new owners opted for a giant rooster made from aluminum cans to greet customers. Cooper hauled the rooster all the way from Texas and welded it to a post in the parking lot.Roosters Grille and Pizzaria is the first restaurant business for Peyton residents Cooper and Stefanish.Cooper owned a trucking business, which supplied cement trucks for the COSMIX construction on I-25 in Colorado Springs. Business had slowed along with Stefanish’s job as a factory representative for an electrical parts manufacturer.Long-term, the two dreamed of opening a bed and breakfast in the Bay Islands in Honduras, where Cooper owns land. They decided to open Roosters first to get some experience. “We figured we’d better learn how to do restaurants here before we try it in a Third World country,” Stefanish said.It all started one night when Cooper and Stefanish were going to Curly’s in Calhan and discovered it was closed. As they drove through Calhan, they noticed a “for lease” sign on a building on Fifth Street (Highway 24), and that was it. They signed a lease April 1.Stefanish and Cooper took the auto repair garage and transformed it into a family restaurant. “We did everything. We built the booths, the bar and the tables, and we upholstered all the chairs,” Stefanish said.Cal Chausee, their landlord, helped them figure out the type of restaurant Calhan lacked.Of the three restaurants in town, none of them stayed open late or were open on Sundays, and none of them served pizza.The menu includes appetizers, sandwiches, steaks and fish, but hand-made pizza is the stand-out.The pizza features a light and crispy Sicilian-style crust that Cooper created from several recipes. Mozzarella is trucked in from Chicago and Sara’s Sausage in Palmer Lake, Colo., supplies hot Italian sausage. The pizza menu also includes other meats and toppings, from jalapenos to pineapple.The fried pickles are a big hit too. “They’re delicious,” Stefanish said.With 10 local employees, Roosters has been good for Calhan’s economy.”In the beginning, I told everyone I hired, “We’ve never done this before, so you guys can help us figure it out as we go,'” Cooper said. “When we first opened, we didn’t even have a can opener.”Roosters is busiest on Thursdays (Texas hold ’em night), Fridays for happy hour and Saturdays, when families come in for dinner. Live music is featured on Wednesdays.”This place gets really packed,” Stefanish said.Already, Cooper and Stefanish realize their kitchen is too small to prepare all the foods they’d like to include on the menu, and they might expand if space becomes available. Right now, the restaurant is cozy, and Stefanish doesn’t want to lose that feel.”We want to make sure we get food out in time and make sure customers are happy with the service,” he said.They already have regular customers.One of them is Willis, who has come in and bought three beers every day since Roosters opened in June. “Sept. 20 will be his 100th day in a row,” Stefanish said. “We’re going to make a cake for him.”Roosters Grille and Pizzaria is located at 1000 Fifth Street (Highway 24) in Calhan. They’re open Monday through Thursday from 3 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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