LOVELAND — The buzz started building the day the owners of the Cactus Grille announced they would be coming back to downtown Loveland.
A Facebook page created Tuesday, Jan. 15, had a dozen comments by the end of the day from excited fans of the former Loveland eatery wanting to know who, what, when and where.
Who: Mike Severance, who managed and then owned the Cactus Grille for 20 years before it closed in December 2008; his daughter Chrissy French; and their business partner, Geoff Fleming.
What: A bar and grill serving Southwestern cuisine and “wicked margaritas.”
When: Opening March 21, if the liquor license comes through.
Where: 119 E. Fourth St., in the former Baja Fish Co. building in downtown Loveland, which Severance managed during its short life.
On Wednesday, Severance and French and some old friends were getting started on the renovation of the restaurant, which is two doors west of the original Cactus Grille.
Bringing the Old Cactus Back
French said her family plans to re-create the old Cactus Grille as closely as possible, with the same menu, plus daily fresh fish specials in the style of Baja Fish Co.’s chalkboard menu.
“It’s not authentic Mexican; it’s more of a Southwestern flair,” she said. “We’ll have burritos and chimichangas and fajitas and the specialties – the chipotle chicken and stuffed sopaipillas.”
The décor will evoke a Mexican village, she said, with Mexican tiles, hanging chile peppers and the like. And they hope to add patio seating along the side of the building on Painter’s Alley and a large patio in back.
The Cactus Grille and the Severance family carry decades of history on the Loveland restaurant scene.
The story starts in April 1988 when Loveland businessman and developer Leo Schuster, who died in a plane crash in 2004, converted his Petite Café at 125 E. Fourth St. into the Cactus Grille.
In August of that year, Schuster hired Severance as general manager. Over the next few years, Severance became a part-owner with Schuster and Mike McCarty and then sole owner.
His wife, Colleen, worked in the kitchen, and his daughters grew up in the business. “I started working there when I was 9,” French said. “I used to host during the Sunday brunches. I worked there until it closed.”
Along the way, Severance also owned the Cactus Grille North in Orchards Shopping Center before converting it to the Out of Bounds.
In December 2001, the Cactus closed downtown and reopened at 1329 Eagle Drive in Thompson Valley Towne Center. That restaurant closed at the end of 2008 as the recession set in, French said.
Time to Get Back Downtown
Since then, father and daughter have worked in a variety of other restaurants, including the Beach House Grill in Old Town Fort Collins. When the Beach House closed Jan. 1, Severance was its general manager and French was the catering manager.
Although Severance said he still has a full-time job with the Beach House’s owners, he, Colleen Severance and French decided to take the opportunity to resurrect the Cactus Grille.
“Moving the Cactus out of downtown was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made,” Severance said.
“I’ve been hearing for 24 years that downtown is going to turn around,” he said. “It’s time for us to get back in the game.
“We’re Loveland people. I love downtown Loveland.”
This Loveland Restaurant has now opened its doors to the public with great food and atmosphere! Including our signature Guacamole made fresh not from the can!