Mexican food lovers in Arvada have another eatery to try out, as Teocalli Cocina opened in Olde Town Arvada on Feb. 14. The Arvada Teocalli is the restaurant’s second location; the first opened in Lafayette in 2019.
Teocalli fills the void on the corner of Ralston Road and Olde Wadsworth Boulevard left by Griff’s Hamburgers, which closed in 2015.
Teocalli owner Grant Hopfenspirger said that he was drawn to the location because of its proximity to the Olde Town Historic District.
“Our previous restaurant is in Lafayette, I’ve always liked those historic areas of town, the Olde Town feel, and I feel like that always generates a good atmosphere,” Hopfenspirger said. “Obviously that location on the corner there, it’s at the entrance to Olde Town, it was pretty exciting to have that opportunity, that exposure.”
Hopfenspirger added that his parents and extended family have lived in Arvada for about 25 years, during which time he’s become familiar with the area.
“I’ve been down in Olde Town probably the last 20 years just watching it grow. The last couple of summer spending time down there, we just felt the energy and the buzz, and it just feels like a good spot to be,” Hopfenspirger said.
Teocalli’s original head chef from the Lafayette location, Julio Gaspar, has transitioned into the same role at the Arvada location. The continuity extends to the menu – Hopfenspirger said that besides the addition of a couple dishes, including an adobo tuna plate, the two locations share almost identical offerings.
The original a-frame leftover from Griff’s was kept by Teocalli, albeit in a repainted and repurposed capacity. Ryan Stachelski, Arvada’s Director of Growth and Economic Development said that Teocalli’s owners opted to keep the a-frame as an homage to Griff’s and were not beholden to construction rules which govern the historic district of Olde Town.
“They were trying to do a nod to the history of the building, trying to modernize, to keep part of the old structure and build around it,” Stachelski said. “(The building) is technically not in the historic district of Olde Town, so there were no specific requirements from the city to keep it.”
Hopfenspirger said that he kept the a-frame because of its familiarity among locals.
“It’s got a historical value I think, to the community and people who grew up there. Everyone who I spoke with along the way knew exactly what it was, and everybody recognized it as Griff’s. I think that a-frame has some historical value for that town, so we wanted to try and retain that and have it as a nod to the community,” Hopfenspirger said.
Olde Town Arvada Business Improvement Director Joe Hengstler praised the decision to keep the a-frame.
“We’re always excited to welcome a new business in Olde Town Arvada but this one is especially fantastic since the old Griff’s lot had sat vacant for so many years,” Hengstler said. “It was great to see how they incorporated the old roof into the new design to still pay tribute to the old building.”
Teocalli joins a crowded scene of Mexican food in Olde Town, with Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, Lady Nomada and Cochino Taco offering related fare in the area. Despite the competition, Hopfenspirger said he’s not phased.
“I think our food quality is really good. I don’t think it’s inferior to really any other food,” Hopfenspirger said. “I think our price point is really attractive as well. I think it’s a really fair price for what we’re offering, and I think too, with our location and our build out with the garage doors and patio and just the light and airiness of the space are pretty unique.
“So, I think we’ve got some advantages over them,” Hopfenspirger continued.
Last year, Teocalli entered its fare in the Top Taco festival, an annual event featuring submissions from restaurants throughout the Denver Metro Area. Teocalli’s carne asada taco took home first place honors, while its el jefe cocktail won second place in its category.