Springs Orleans might expand to both coasts

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Springs Orleans head breakfast chef Joey “Moonfish” Duplessis serves up the dishes that have attracted national attention.

Downtown restaurant Springs Orleans could soon become the flagship of a new national chain.

Owner Perry Sanders said he didn’t go out looking for opportunities to expand to new locations, but when opportunity came knocking, he opened the door.

It started when an investment group from the Atlanta area came courting him a couple months ago. They want a Cajun restaurant for their development in the popular Buckhead area outside downtown Atlanta. They were getting ready to sign papers with a chain based in Louisiana when someone among their ranks who had been to the Colorado Springs restaurant stopped them.

“They were raving about the restaurant,” Sanders said. “And even though it’s in Colorado, the group wanted to check it out.”

He said a representative visited and spent days eating the food.

In the end, Sanders said the culinary scout told him it’s wasn’t even a close call. They wanted Springs Orleans, which is part of Sanders’ Mining Exchange Hotel.

“They said we want to deal with you if you want to deal with us — and I said, ‘Oh yes, I want to,’” Sanders said.

With that, Sanders said he anticipates doing a couple deals with the Atlanta group. The restaurants would be corporately owned, not franchised, he said.

Robert Aertker, a principal broker with Landmark Commercial Real Estate, is representing the restaurant in its national expansion efforts.

Aertker said he didn’t want to discuss specific locations, but that he’s impressed with Sanders’ success and he’s scoping out potential locations in larger markets on the east and west coasts.

Sanders wasn’t shy about where he wants to start expanding.

“One location we’re interested in is the Costa Mesa area in California,” Sanders said, referring to an Orange County suburb of Los Angeles. “That’s real high, high volume there.”

Volume plays a big role in Sanders’ confidence that the restaurant concept will work in other areas. It’s been successful here, in Colorado Springs, where volume is relatively low, he said.

“We’ve grown so much in the last 18 months,” he said. “There are days we really get run over. We’re having Mondays now that are four times what our Saturdays used to be.”

The Mining Exchange, a Wyndham Grand hotel, has had some impact on the restaurant’s growth since the hotel’s opening in the past 90 days, he said. But most of the restaurant volume is local.

Springs Orleans has plenty of regulars, and people drive from Pueblo and Denver to dine there on a somewhat-regular basis, Sanders said.

He said the hotel business sometimes causes a spike in breakfast sales, but its impact otherwise seems minor.

The hotel has been gaining momentum since it opened in June. The Waldo Canyon fire caused some group cancellations, Sanders said.

“That forced us to do some regular transient travel business,” he said. “For only being 90 days old and no advertising out there in the world, we’ve been really pleasantly surprised with amount of volume we’ve had.”

It started off slow, but now bookings into the future look bright, he said. There are 117 rooms in the hotel and Sanders said that if the reservations desk takes at least that many future bookings a day, the hotel should be fully booked every night within a year.

There were 145 reservations made on Monday.

“In 365 days, that will catch up with itself,” he said. “In the short run, it’s exceeding my expectations. Of course, I always suspected in the long run it would do well.”

It’s a distinct, one-of-a-kind property, he said. There’s no way to expand the Mining Exchange brand to other locations.

But it looks like that’s in the cards for the hotel’s restaurant.

Sanders said Springs Orleans’ recipes are perfected and ready to go out into the world. But he needs someone who can whip the operations into shape.

“I am actively looking to hire someone who can manage multiple locations,” he said.