May 26, 2022

go health

New restaurant takes over former Pita Pit space in downtown Colorado Springs | Business

It’s downtown or bust for Salad or Bust.

The healthy food eatery, which began three years ago as a food truck and graduated to a counter space this year at the south side Ivywild School mixed-use center, now has added a downtown Colorado Springs location at 8 E. Bijou St. A grand opening takes place Saturday. 

Salad or Bust’s husband-and-wife owners Bob and Stephanie Curtis have taken over the former Pita Pit space on Bijou Street, whose franchisees closed the restaurant in October.

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Salad or Bust offers a variety of soups and salads, hoagies, chili and acai bowls, among other items.

The downtown menu will be the same as the Ivywild School location, Bob Curtis said. But with more space at the downtown restaurant, the owners have added items such as Buddha bowls — a vegetarian or vegan dish set on top of Quinoa or black pearl rice — and expanded their hot food offerings.

“We’ve got more space, we’ve got more kitchen, so we’re doing a little bit more, offering more,” Bob Curtis said of the downtown location.

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The Curtises have restaurant industry backgrounds, Bob said, and Stephanie currently works at the Calhan School District east of Colorado Springs.

The couple started Salad or Bust in September 2018 when they converted a short, 15-foot-long school bus into a food truck.

The vehicle had two full salad bars inside; customers would enter the bus, walk through, make their own salads, pay by the weight of their food and exit out the back of the bus, Bob Curtis said.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, quashed salad bars, he said.

So, the Curtises came up with their own pre-designed salads — along with hoagies and humus and other sharable plates — that were sold from the bus while it was parked at the Ivywild School, among other places. The old elementary school reopened in 2013 on South Cascade Avenue as a commercial and community center.

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By August 2020, the Salad or Bust bus was parked at the school regularly, serving Bristol Brewing Co. and the Axe and the Oak Whiskey House, Bob Curtis said.

In March, Salad or Bust took over one of four counter spaces inside the school, where it expanded its menu.

When the Curtises read last month about the closure of Pita Pit, they contacted franchisees Jolene and Craig Howard. The Howards had closed Pita Pit because of financial concerns and family matters.

The Curtises took over the Howards’ lease on the building and bought the restaurant’s equipment in preparation for a new Salad or Bust location. The Howards helped in that transition, working to change over phone lines and giving the Curtises the names of contacts at nearby Colorado College for possible catering opportunities.  

The new owners have painted the former Pita Pit space, remodeled a bit and added window seating so that customers can look out onto the street while eating, Bob Curtis said.

The restaurant eventually will seat 36 to 40 people, including a community table that will seat about a dozen people, he said.

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The Curtises hope that Salad or Bust will appeal to students at downtown’s Palmer High School, where their 15-year-old daughter, Lilly, attends.

At the same time, they want the downtown location to be less of a “grab and go” outlet and more of a place where downtown employees, visitors and students will come and stay, relax, study and visit, Bob Curtis said.

“Basically we are excited about just being a … destination spot,” he said. “We’re downtown. We’ve got a great bar and a couple of great stores across the street from us, a couple of great businesses right next to us, like Hooked on Books is fantastic. So we’re just hoping to kind of grow where we are.”